Maryland iGaming Dead for 2024 After Senate Folds on House Measure

The Maryland iGaming bill passed by the state House of Delegates last month has died in the General Assembly’s upper chamber.

Maryland Del. Vanessa Atterbeary wanted to bring online casino gaming to the state. Her 2024 bill passed the state House but stalled in the Senate. (Image: The Baltimore Sun)

House Bill 1319 was introduced in February by Del. Vanessa Atterbeary (D-Howard). The statute sought to expand gaming in Maryland to include online slot machines and interactive table games.

Atterbeary’s bill passed by a 92-43 vote largely along party lines, with Democratic delegates more supportive of the iGaming initiative. The state Senate, also a Democratic stronghold with the party maintaining 34 of the 47 seats, opted to forego considering gaming expansion this legislative session.

After fielding HB 1319, Senate leadership directed the bill to the Budget and Taxation Committee. It received a hearing on March 26 but committee members decided not to vote on advancing the statute.

With the General Assembly’s 2024 legislative session ending on Monday, and no further consideration of HB 1319 planned, the iGaming effort is dead.

iGaming Shunned

Atterbeary and other iGaming supporters believed online casino games could provide further funding for the Maryland Blueprint.

Passed in 2021, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is designed “to transform public education” to improve schooling, “especially for those who have been historically underserved.”

Maryland’s tax benefit from its six brick-and-mortar casinos goes towards the Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports pre-K through 12 public education, public school and higher-education infrastructure, and capital improvements to community colleges. Sports betting taxes support the Blueprint.

Senate leaders told Atterbeary and other House lawmakers campaigning for iGaming that the issue would be dead on arrival in the upper chamber. Senators said 2024 wasn’t the year for more gaming, and earlier this year folded on similar iGaming legislation filed by state Sen. Ron Watson (D-Prince George).

Atterbeary’s bill would have allowed the state’s casinos to partner with up to three iGaming platforms. Maryland’s four off-track betting and two bingo locations would have qualified for a single skin.

Media conglomerate Urban One would have been allocated one iGaming license, and five others would have been put up for a competitive bid. Each license was to cost $1 million and gross revenue would have been taxed at 55%.

Marylanders would have had the final say on HB 1319, as the legislation required a ballot referendum to amend the state constitution to permit online casino gambling. Being a legislative-initiated ballot proposal, the bill needed three-fifths support in each assembly chamber.

Public Pushback

Along with the state Senate, a poll commissioned in February determined that a majority of the public in Maryland opposed online casino gaming.

The probe concluded that 64% of Marylanders do not want iGaming at this juncture. It’s worth noting that while the poll was conducted by an independent public policy polling firm based in Raleigh, it was commissioned by the Maryland Retailers Alliance, which is strongly opposed to iGaming.

The state’s casinos are also against expanding casino gaming to the internet. The six casinos last year generated gross gaming revenue (GGR) of $1.98 billion, a 3.3% decline from 2022.

MGM National Harbor — the state’s market leader and one of the most profitable casinos in the country outside of Las Vegas — saw its GGR drop nearly 6% to $834.1 million.

The post Maryland iGaming Dead for 2024 After Senate Folds on House Measure appeared first on