Maryland Officially Legalizes Sports Betting
Sports betting is now officially legal in Maryland. On Tuesday, Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill that makes both retail and online sports betting legal. Citizens voted on the matter last year, but the legislation still had to be passed. Five states have legalized sports betting in 2021.
Meanwhile, Texas will not be legalizing casino gambling and sports betting this year. Bills in both the state House and Senate failed to gain traction. Finally, sports betting still has a chance to be passed in 2021 in Florida, but online gambling is off the table. A clause allowing parties to discuss the matter in the future was struck from legislation.
Maryland Legalizes Sports Betting
Maryland is officially the fifth US state to legalize sports betting in 2021. On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation that will bring both live and online sportsbooks to the state. Some of you may recall that Maryland citizens voted for sports betting in last November’s general election. However, this only gave the OK for the activity. It did not set up a regulatory framework.
That’s where lawmakers stepped in. Back in February, bills began circulating to regulate the activity. The one that finally received the Governor’s signature includes an emergency clause that allows the bill to take effect immediately.
Under the new law, there will be up to 60 online sportsbooks in Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens have already announced a partnership with BetMGM as their official sportsbook. Other partnerships will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
There will be up to 30 retail sports betting licenses with sports bars, OTC facilities, and racetracks among those eligible to apply. Sports betting will be taxed at 15% of revenue with the industry generating approximately $17 million in taxes annually. Tax revenue will go towards public education. Sports betting is expected to launch sometime before the fall, likely in time for the 2021 NFL season.
Texas Passes on Casino Legislation
For those hopeful that casino legislation would pass in Texas this year, you’re going to have to keep waiting. Bills in both the House and Senate failed to come to a vote before established legislative deadlines.
House Joint Resolution 133 and Senate Joint Resolution 49 both failed to come to a vote and will be nixed for 2021. Both bills would have allowed for citizens to vote on whether to allow for gambling in the state. Under the bill, four casinos would have been built in four major Texas cities. Also, the three Indian tribes in the state could have also run casinos.
Similar bills for sports betting in Texas will also likely not come to a vote. The legislative session ends on May 31st and there doesn’t appear to be any indication that a vote will happen.
Back in February, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick claimed that sports betting would not see the light of day in the legislature. Sadly, this has become a reality. Now lawmakers will have to start over again in 2022 if they hope to legalize either sports betting or casino gambling.
Florida Senate Approves Sports Betting Deal – Without Online Gambling
The first hurdle to legalizing sports betting in Florida is cleared. On Tuesday, the Florida Senate approved the 2021 Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe by a vote of 38 to 1. The matter will now move to the House, and if they approve it, the matter moves to the federal government for approval.
However, not all is good news. The clause in the compact that would allow the Seminole tribe and the state to discuss online gambling was removed before the vote. This means that real money online casinos will not be coming to the state. Under the original draft, both parties had three years to revisit the notion of offering online blackjack and other casino games run in live casinos.
The removal of the online gambling clause effectively sealed the deal for the compact to pass. In the end, giving up the “potential” for online gambling is a small price to pay to get sports betting passed. Lawmakers can always revisit the matter in the future.