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New Bill Aims to Prohibit Gambling at Maryland Colleges

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A bill that would ban online gambling on college campuses in Maryland has been introduced in the state’s House of Delegates.

House Bill 1087 proposes institutions create a virtual perimeter or "geofence" around campuses to prevent cell phone access to online sportsbooks. The bill requires four-year public institutions, Baltimore City Community College, and local community colleges to engage with geolocation service companies partnered with licensed sports betting operators in Maryland. The colleges are given up to August 1 2024 to set up the virtual perimeter.

The legislation, which has already had its first reading in the state’s Ways and Means and Appropriations Committee, anticipates increased costs for the institutions but does not predict any impact on revenue. Towson University, a public university in Maryland, has raised concerns about the practicality of enforcing a geofence. The university pointed out challenges like geolocation accuracy, mobile settings, ethics, and the use of private networks.

Maryland Sports Betting Rise in December

Maryland launched sports betting in November 2022 and is home to 13 retail and 13 mobile sportsbook operators, including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and ESPN Bet. In its December betting report, the state recorded an all-time high sports betting handle of $559.8m, a 12.58% increase year-on-year. The approved operators in the state generated $43.2m in total taxable wins in the month, with 15% allocated to the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund.

Meanwhile, state lawmakers are currently considering the possibility of legalizing online gambling in Maryland. Earlier this week, Vanessa Atterbeary, the Maryland House Ways and Means Committee chair, introduced a bill that would legalize iGaming.

While supporters of the initiative highlight the additional tax revenue that iGaming will bring in, opponents have argued that it will lead to job losses in the retail sector and increase problem gambling. In January, Maryland’s six land-based casinos reported a decline in gaming revenue. Earnings from slot machines and table games reached $153.2 million, an 8.4% decrease from January 2023.

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