Maryland Bills To Boost Sports Betting Best Practices Sent To Governor

April 11, 2023
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Three sports betting bills are now on Maryland Democratic Governor Wes Moore’s desk waiting for his signature or veto, after receiving legislative approval prior to the state legislature adjourning its 2023 session on Monday.

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Editor’s Note: This story was updated on Thursday, April 13 at 11:00am to clarify additional changes made to Senate Bill 621 prior to its passage.

Three sports-betting bills are now on Maryland Democratic Governor Wes Moore’s desk waiting for his signature or veto, after receiving legislative approval prior to the state legislature adjourning its 2023 session on Monday (April 10).

Senate Bill 620, which was crossed filed with House Bill 802, was approved on Thursday (April 6), while HB 802 itself was returned passed on Saturday (April 8), according to legislative voting records.

Neither bill would altogether prohibit marketing partnerships between sportsbooks and Maryland colleges.

Instead, the ban only would apply in the event that either the college or its sports marketing agent “receives a commission, a bonus, or any other incentive payment based on the success of securing student participation in sports wagering or online sports wagering.”

In December 2021, PointsBet was named the official partner of the University of Maryland’s athletics department. The same operator recently amended a similar agreement with the University of Colorado, to remove a $30 referral bonus each time someone signed up with PointsBet with a Colorado University code and placed a bet.

According to the bill, details of contracts between sports-betting companies and universities would be required to be publicly available.

PointsBet is not the only sports-betting company to sign deals with universities. In 2021, Michigan State University (MSU) negotiated a contract with Caesars Entertainment, worth a reported $8.4m over five years.

Supporters described the MSU deal as “the largest sportsbook deal in college athletics”. The same year, Louisiana State University (LSU) signed a similar deal with Caesars.

"Notwithstanding the monetary aspect of this issue, these college-gaming company partnerships raise important issues,” said Senator Shelly Hettleman, a Democrat who supported SB 620. “Promoting gambling on campus does not fit the mission of higher education.”

These partnerships, Hettleman claimed, make “young people vulnerable to developing gambling addictions, including those underage.”

Both bills fall short of the American Gaming Associations updated marketing guidelines released on March 28.

The AGA’s updated “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering” enhanced protections for college-aged audiences by prohibiting partnerships that promote, market, or advertise sports wagering activity, other than to alumni networks or content focused on responsible gambling initiatives or problem gambling awareness.

Name, image and likeness (NIL) deals promoting sportsbooks are prohibited for amateur and college athletes.

Senate Bill 621 was passed 44-0 shortly before the legislature adjourned on Monday.

Under the bill, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission will be required to identify and license certain independent evaluators to check and rate content provided by touts and handicappers, sports betting influencers and content partners.

An independent evaluator may be compensated by a licensee or operators for its evaluation and rating of sports betting content. The MLGCC “shall adopt regulations to implement this section,” according to the four-page enrolled version of the bill.

The bill further allows the MLGCC and Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) to consider a request to amend a Class B-2 sports wagering facility license for altering its location. To submit a request, the license must have been awarded on or before February 15, 2023.

Licensees must submit a written request to the MLGCC or SWARC on or before December 31, 2023.

As of Tuesday (April 11), the governor had not signed any of the measures, according to a list of bill signings on his website.

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