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Maryland Bill Regulating Online Casinos Advances to Senate

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At the end of last week, Maryland Representative Venessa Atterbeary’s House bill 1319 passed in the House and is now headed to the Senate. The bill promises to deliver a “highly regulated” online casino industry should it pass the Senate and then be approved by voters in November.

The Senate has until April 8 to pass the bill and many believe that Maryland is the state most likely to pass an online casino bill in 2024. The only other state considering the possibility is Maine. In order to get through the House, the bill underwent several changes, some of which the industry is likely to campaign against.

High Taxes on Electronic Games

Amongst the amendments was the ban on the use of credit cards as well as guidelines relating to diversity, equity and inclusion. The bill also stipulates a minimum tax of 55% on electronic games while live dealer games would be subject to a 20% tax.

A five-year license would come with an initial fee of $1 million and then a renewal fee equal to 1% of the average annual profit for the last three years. Tax revenue would go to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future scheme, which includes sending some money to counties that are home to land casinos, racetracks, and small, minority, and women-owned businesses. One percent of tax money would go towards programs related to problem and responsible gambling.

License Eligibility

The six casinos in Maryland may apply for a license but they must be at least 5% owned by a social equity partner. A social equity partner is an individual or a group deemed to have come from an “economically disadvantaged area” and who meet various other conditions. Casinos may apply for a second and third license if they are at least a third owned by a social equity partner.

There will be seven “Class B” licenses made available to the four OTBs and bingo halls that already have online sports betting licenses. There will also be between five and eighteen stand-alone digital gambling licenses that applicants may bid for.

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