Maryland Files Sports Betting Bill – GA Bill Advances
The legal push to expand live and online gambling continues in several states. First, the first of several bills to regulate sports betting in Maryland has been filed. Next, a bill to legalize online sports betting in Georgia is making progress towards a vote.
Finally, citizens of Alabama may get the chance to vote on expanding gambling in the state. If this happens, the door will be opened to legalize casino games and real money online casinos.
Maryland Files First of Many Sports Betting Related Bills
Last year, voters in the state of Maryland voted to legalize sports betting. However, all that did was legalize the activity. It did not establish a framework for the activity. The first of many bills geared toward regulating sports betting was filed last week.
The bill is geared towards charitable sports betting. If passed, the Maryland State Fairgrounds will be allowed to open a retail sportsbook and an online sportsbook. Proceeds from the sportsbook will go toward various charitable purposes.
This would be a first for legal sports betting in the United States. If passed, the bill would make Maryland the first state to require a license for charitable betting.
Several other bills will be filed during this legislative session to establish the framework for legal live and online sports betting. The bills will cover everything from licensing to taxation. At the rate things are progressing, it may be late 2021 to early 2022 before sports betting launches.
Georgia Online Sports Betting Passes First Committee Vote
We’ve recently reported on an online sports betting proposal in Georgia. The measure is backed by the four professional sports teams in the state. Earlier this week, we learned that this bill has cleared the first of multiple hurdles for passage.
HB 86 has passed its initial committee vote and will now head to the GA House Rules Committee. Should the bill pass there, it will head to the House floor for a vote. The process will then begin over in the Senate.
Lawmakers anticipate annual tax revenues of around $100 million from sportsbooks, based on a 14% tax rate. Sportsbooks operating in the state will also pay a $900,000 licensing fee to offer online sports betting.
The interesting part about this is that, if passed, the bill will make Georgia an online-only market for sports betting. Tennessee is the only state that offers online sports betting without a live counterpart.
Expanded Gambling to Go to Voter Referendum
Alabama lawmakers are considering a compact with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians for expanded gambling. However, those plans will be delayed a bit as Governor Kay Ivey wants to take the matter to a referendum vote.
The push for a compact began back in 2020 but Gov. Ivey pushed for a study on the matter. The study revealed that expanded gambling would add 19,000 jobs in the state along with $700 million in tax revenue annually. However, the study also recommended that voters approve the measure because the state Constitution bans most forms of gambling.
State Senator Del Marsh is presently planning to introduce legislation to expand gambling in the state. Once the bill is passed and signed by the Governor, voters can then vote on whether to approve the compact. Even if the bill is pushed through the legislature in 2021, the vote will not likely occur until 2022.
The only form of gambling in Alabama presently is Class II gambling offered by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. Expanded gambling would allow for casino games like blackjack, roulette, online slots, and possibly real money online casinos. It is unclear at this time whether online gambling will be part of this year’s proposal. Even if it isn’t, lawmakers can revisit online casino gambling at a future date.