The US state of Maryland has moved a step closer to having its own sports betting industry following progress in the state’s legislature.
A bill that would legalise sports betting in the state has completed the amendment stage and has come through a first vote on the Senate Committee for Budget and Taxation. Bill 4, which was brought forward by Sen. Craig Zucker, was in fact one of a pair of Senate bills proposed that would lead to a legal sports betting sector in the state. Both were launched in January this year.
The latest amendments to the Bill were introduced by members of the committee Nancy King, Thomas Miller Jr, Guy Guzzone, Chris West, Cory McCray and Pamela Beidle. The final Bill, if passed, would permit legal sports betting to be offered at three racetracks in the state: Maryland State Fairgrounds, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, as well as an unnamed professional football stadium, which is believed to refer to the FedEx field, where the NFL franchise Washington Redskins play their home games. This clause is thought to be aimed at ensuring that the team doesn’t relocate to the District of Columbia, which has just legalised in-stadia betting.
The amendments to the bill also mandate that minority participation in the awarding of sports betting licences is fully considered. The license fee for operating a sports betting business in Maryland is set to be $2.5 million, along with an annual renewal fee of $250,000 as well as a hefty 20% tax rate. The bill will also enable sports betting licensees to contract third party online firms to provide online sports betting, though they will be required to pay a fee of at least $5,000.
Having cleared the committee, the bill will now head to the Senate for a vote, and sports betting proponents in the state are hopeful that it will soon become law.