Maryland Online Gambling Legalization Debate Continues

The debate over the legalization of internet gambling in Maryland continues, with differing opinions among participants about the advantages and disadvantages. Proponents, such as state legislators and business leaders, highlight the possibility of higher profits and regulated online gambling choices. Opponents, meanwhile, express worries about decreased industry revenues, job losses, and a possible rise in compulsive gambling.

During a hearing on Monday, Vanessa Atterbeary, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee in Maryland, presented a new measure that would legalize online gaming. Twelve online gambling operators will be granted licenses under the terms of the bill, each with a $1 million licensee fee and a five-year license term. A renewal charge equal to one percent of the licensee’s yearly average income would also be levied.

Under Atterbeary’s proposal, two distinct tax rates would apply. Operators offering solely iGaming activities would face a 55% tax rate, while those incorporating live-dealer games would be taxed at a reduced rate of 20%. This tiered taxation system aims to incentivize operators to expand into live-dealer gaming, potentially creating employment opportunities.

Addressing Concerns

In defense of her proposal, Atterbeary refuted alarmist notions, asserting, “the sky will not fall if iGaming is implemented in the state of Maryland.” She emphasized the potential for iGaming revenues to contribute to Maryland’s Blueprint initiative, a comprehensive education reform plan requiring $40 billion in funding.

Atterbeary’s proposal earmarks portions of iGaming tax revenue for various purposes, including 1% for problem gambling treatment, 1% for local government educational programs, and additional funding for the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. The remainder would bolster the state’s Blueprint initiative.

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Casino & Sports

While proponents of iGaming, such as Horseshoe Baltimore general manager Randall Conroy, highlight its advantages, not all business representatives share this view. A Live! Casino Hotel Maryland official called iGaming a “bad deal,” citing concerns about possible income drop and employment losses. Executive Vice President of The Cordish Companies Mark Stewart expressed similar worries, pointing out that if iGaming is allowed, there will be a major loss of jobs.

Stakeholders in Maryland are debating the possibility of legalizing iGaming while trying to strike a balance between social obligations and economic opportunity. The debate is being shaped by differing points of view, so there are still many unknowns and complexity on the horizon.


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