Maryland Weighs Pros and Cons of Online Gambling Legalization

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The debate over whether or not to legalize online gambling in Maryland continued this week. As in other states, lawmakers and much of the gambling industry are highlighting the additional tax revenue that iGaming will bring in while opponents argue that it will damage the retail sector and increase problem gambling.

Earlier this week, Vanessa Atterbeary, the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee chair, introduced a bill that would legalize iGaming. The bill proposes offering a dozen online gambling licenses, each of which would have a $1 million fee. The licenses would be valid for five years after which, a five-year renewal fee would be paid that would be equal to 1% of the licensee’s average annual revenue.

Bill Proposes Two Tax Rates

The proposed bill puts forward two different tax rates. Those operators that offer just iGaming would have to pay a 55% tax while those that also provide live-dealer games would pay 20% tax. The logic behind this is that the lower tax rate will encourage live dealer gaming and this way create new jobs.

Upon introducing her bill, Atterbeary explained that revenue from the iGaming industry would help with funding the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, a plan to overhaul public education that would cost as much as $40 billion over a decade. Her plan would see 1% of iGaming tax go towards treating problem gambling, 1% would help fund educational programs, 1% would go to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, and the rest of the funds would go to the Blueprint plan.

Disagreements Surrounding Potential Job Losses

There is some disagreement in the retail sector over whether legalizing iGaming would cause job losses. The general manager of Horseshoe Baltimore, Randall Conroy, has stated that he doesn’t think there would be job losses and as such, supports the bill.

However, a representative for Live! Casino Hotel Maryland has said that iGaming would be a “bad deal” for the state that may result in decreased revenue and job cuts. Mark Stewart, The Cordish Companies’ executive VP, and general counsel has a similar view and has gone as far as claiming that thousands of Maryland residents will lose their jobs.

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