By Skip Charles
The Maryland legislature approved legislation to legalize sports betting, voting overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. said he likely will sign.
The House of Delegates approved the final measure 122-16 last night, a few hours after the state Senate did the same with a 47-0 vote.
The state’s share of the proceeds will be used largely to supplement the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, a K-12 education account.
Del. Anne R. Kaiser (D-Montgomery), chairwoman of the House Ways & Means Committee, said that if emergency regulations are adopted in time, Maryland residents will be able to place bets on professional and college sporting events by late summer. “I think the goal is to go live by kickoff of the NFL [season] in the first week in September,” she said during floor debate Monday, as reported by Maryland Matters.
Discussions about how to implement sports betting meandered during much of the session, intensifying only in the legislature’s final days as legislators sought to resolve differing approaches. Lawmakers differed primarily on whether to cap the number of licenses or leave it to the free market.
Under the deal, Maryland will award as many as 60 licenses to companies wishing to offer mobile, or app-based, betting. As many as 47 additional licenses will be issued to “bricks and mortar” applicants — 17 identified in the bill and 30 others that will be awarded through an open application process.
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