Maryland Approves Contract For iGaming Study, Regulation Updates

July 28, 2023
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The efforts to legalize online gaming took a step forward on Thursday when the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission unanimously approved a contract for a vendor to produce a detailed report on the potential impact of iGaming.

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The efforts to legalize online gaming took a step forward on Thursday (July 27) when the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC) unanimously approved a contract for a vendor to produce a detailed report on the potential impact of iGaming.

James Nielsen, deputy director, chief operating officer with the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA), said the Innovation Group’s $86,000 bid to conduct the study had been selected because it ranked first in the agency’s technical evaluation of each proposal.

Each of the proposals submitted were evaluated on the company’s technical response to the requirements and work plan, experience and qualifications of proposed staff, and their qualification and capabilities, including proposed subcontractors.

In total, five firms responded prior to the MLGCA’s July 17 deadline for all request for proposals (RFP).

“We believe that holding this approval item for the commission’s August meeting could jeopardize meeting the budget committee’s deadline, so we are presenting it now,” Nielsen told the commission in a five-page staff report issued on Thursday.

Prior to approval, Nielsen said a meeting with the Innovation Group would take place within the next ten days to discuss the research process and establish a schedule. The MLGCA is required to submit the iGaming report to the Budget Committees in both the House and Senate no later than November 15.

The report is expected to lay out the current regulatory landscape for iGaming, the estimated market in Maryland, the potential economic impact of legal regulated iGaming on Maryland’s brick-and-mortar casinos, other gaming venues, and the MLGCA.

Lawmakers are also curious about the experience other states have had with iGaming, methods to transition individuals from the illegal iGaming market to the legal market, and the impact on problem gambling.

Democratic Senator Ron Watson’s iGaming bill, Senate Bill 267, will carry over into next year. Watson’s bill was co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Senator Nancy King.

“We’ll get the results back and we’ll craft a bill. We’ll push it through. It’s that simple,” Watson told VIXIO GamblingCompliance on July 15 at the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) summer meeting in Denver.

Passage of SB 267 next year would still get the question of legalizing iGaming before the voters in November.

On Thursday, the commission also approved a series of amendments to address changes in gaming regulations needed due to bills passed by the Maryland legislature, industry recommendations, the MLCGA’s annual review process and staff recommendations.

Nielsen told the commission that the proposed amendments would be submitted through the regulator approval process, while others would be under emergency regulations.

“Emergency will allow us to enact some of these [quicker] because some of these regulation changes are based on statute changes,” he said. “So, we need to get the regs in place to meet the statute changes. That process saves us about 45 days and they’re good for six months, I believe.”

Among the amendments to Chapter 10 of the state’s gaming provisions, dealing with the enforcement of voluntary exclusion programs, was the requirement “not to include in any advertisement for sports wagering, video lottery terminal, or table game play language that suggests an outcome is guaranteed or without risk.”

An amendment also implements Senate Bill 620, which prohibits Maryland’s colleges and universities from contracting with sports-betting companies if either the college or its marketing agent “receives a commission, a bonus, or any other incentive payment based on the success of securing student participation in wagering."

Other regulatory updates would allow licensed video lottery employees to work as employees in sportsbooks without submitting a separate license application, and implement House Bill 1288, which relaxes mandatory disqualification requirements for those with misdemeanor records who complete a problem-solving court.

In total, the commission approved 70 pages of updated regulations.

Commissioner Diane Croghan asked Nielsen if they should expect to see this every year with regard to updates to proposed amendments.

“Yes. You should expect to see this every year,” Nielsen said. “What we do is work with the industry … and (American Gaming Association). The AGA typically works with all the licensees in Maryland and collects their recommendations.”

Nielsen said the changes are based on new technology, industry trends and what is being done in other jurisdictions.

“They put together a list which is submitted to us, and we go through them line by line, debate each of the recommendations and come up with a group of suggestions,” he added.

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