The proposed legislation that may bring an iGaming legalization ballot measure to voters in November became public record on Jan. 25. That’s when SB565 appeared on the Maryland General Assembly‘s list of pending Senate legislation. A complementary Maryland online casino bill is expected to arrive next.
In November, Maryland voters may see this question from the Expansion of Commercial Gaming — Internet Gaming Referendum bill:
Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize Internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?
However, that ballot measure will only happen if both chambers of the legislature approve the bill.
Plus, the Maryland online casino bill itself must have nods from the House and Senate.
The sponsor of SB565 and the upcoming online casino and poker measure, Ron L. Watson, told Bonus on Jan. 25:
What you see online [is] the ‘Referendum Bill.’ The ‘Implementation Bill’ was completed this morning and should be uploaded to the system by tomorrow.
SB565, the bill that would authorize a ballot measure, saw its first reading and a referral to the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on Jan. 25.
Up Next: Maryland Online Casino Bill
While the Maryland online casino and poker proposal hasn’t yet been published and made clickable to the general public, Watson has been openly working to gain buy-in for the measure for some time. Most recently, state Sen. Watson, D-Prince George’s County, spoke about it at a Jan. 18 House Ways and Means Committee briefing.
He said Maryland needs iGaming revenue. The committee’s briefing was specifically about research illustrating that iGaming revenue could reach $900 million annually.
Watson said legalizing online casino and poker gambling could:
- help offset the deficit,
- stem Maryland retail casino revenue losses from Virginia facility launches, and
- add jobs resulting from new live dealer studios serving online casino operators.
Watson’s iGaming bill draft showed that up to 12 operators would pay a 46% tax rate. So, the filed online casino bill may offer a higher potential revenue figure than the study House members evaluated on Jan. 18.
Meanwhile, legal iGaming opponents are worried that Maryland casinos may lose revenue and jobs if Watson’s bill becomes law. They cited the study commissioned by the gaming regulator, Maryland Lottery and Gaming (MLG), that showed legal online casino and poker games may cannibalize 10% of land-based casino revenue.