Online Casino Bill Introduced In Maryland House

February 12, 2024
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A Maryland House committee will consider legislation later this month that proposes a different model for potential online casino legalization focused on diversity and inclusion.
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A Maryland House committee will consider legislation later this month that proposes a different model for potential online casino legalization focused on diversity and inclusion.

House Bill 1319 would set a framework for online casino gaming subject to passage of a separate constitutional amendment and voter approval in November.

Under the bill, which was introduced on Friday (February 9), the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission would be authorized to issue up to 12 internet gaming licenses. 

Unlike in a competing Senate proposal, however, licenses would not be tethered to existing land-based casino properties.

The House bill would instead require that any applicant demonstrate at least 5 percent ownership by people who are below a certain personal net worth threshold set by the commission, or establish a profit-sharing agreement with non-management employees below that threshold.

The percentage of ownership by the described individuals would be one of the criteria for determining which applicants receive licensure.

HB 1319 would also set up a competitive bidding process, with applicants proposing the percentage of proceeds that they would retain, with minimum thresholds set by the legislation. 

Applicants would have to return at least 20 percent of live dealer games to the state, as well as at least 55 percent of all other internet gaming. 

Other selection criteria include the financial stability of applicants, workforce development plans for employees in the state, plans to employ people who reside in economically disadvantaged areas, and responsible gaming programs.

In the Senate proposal, which was filed in January, each of the state’s six casinos would be eligible to apply for an internet gaming license, with each property receiving two iGaming skins.

In addition, up to five licenses could be issued to companies with headquarters in Maryland for the last ten years and more than 250 full-time employees that have already been found suitable to own 5 percent equity in a land-based casino.

Those licensees would also have to commit to use the brand of the Maryland-based entity for at least one year, and also commit to spending at least $5m over the five-year duration of the license to construct and operate a live dealer studio in Maryland.

Each of the bills will receive their first hearings in committees later this month.

The House Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to hear House Bill 1319 on February 26, while the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee is set to hear Senate Bill 603 on February 28.

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