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Maryland iGaming Bill Given Quick Peek by the Senate

Maryland lawmakers convened on Tuesday to scrutinize an online casino bill, but only gave it a cursory review. The proposal, which seeks to expand online gambling within the state, has ignited both curiosity and skepticism among legislators.

Online casino gaming has become a hot topic in recent years, with states across the nation grappling with the balance between economic gains and social responsibility. Maryland, like many others, is navigating this delicate terrain. The allure of increased tax revenue and job creation clashes with concerns about addiction, consumer protection, and the impact on existing brick-and-mortar casinos.

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Maryland is poised to become the eighth state to authorize online casino gaming, joining a group of four large-market operator states that includes West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan. In contrast, Delaware permits only a single legal real-money online casino operator.

However, there's still a lot of work that has to be done. If the bill survives a Senate vote, with no changes to the House's version, the measure would then have to go before voters this November. That means, at the earliest, iGaming wouldn't arrive in Maryland until at least next year, possibly later.

The proposal also faces formidable opposition from lawmakers grappling with questions such as whether online gambling a sustainable revenue stream. While proponents point to success stories in other states, critics raise concerns about potential oversaturation and market cannibalization.

Brick-and-mortar establishments fear losing customers to their virtual counterparts. The proposal must strike a delicate balance to ensure coexistence. In addition, addressing addiction and promoting responsible gambling are critical components. Legislators are wary of unintended consequences.

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The Proposal in Question

The bill under scrutiny aims to create a framework for online casino gaming, allowing licensed operators to offer a variety of games to Maryland residents. Proponents argue that this move would keep revenue within the state, prevent residents from seeking offshore options, and provide a regulated environment for players.

The current proposal outlines the availability of up to 30 licenses. Among these, each of the state's six casinos would be entitled to one, with the possibility of obtaining up to two additional licenses through specified pathways.

BetMGM and Caesars are likely to secure licenses owing to their casinos, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and MGM National Harbor, respectively. Similarly, Penn Entertainment, operator of Hollywood Casino Perryville, also stands as a prominent candidate to introduce its Hollywood Casino digital platform.

Furthermore, DraftKings and FanDuel emerge as strong contenders for securing potential iGaming licenses in Maryland. As leaders in the nation's sports betting market share, both companies have existing affiliation deals for sports betting in the state, positioning them favorably for acquiring online gaming licenses in the state.

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