Amended Maryland iGaming Bill On to House Floor

Amended Maryland iGaming Bill On to House Floor
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

A measure that would open the door to online Maryland casinos took another step toward passage late Wednesday afternoon after a committee sent it to the House floor.

In a split vote, the House Ways and Means Committee approved an amended version of House Bill 1319, sponsored by Committee Chair Vanessa Atterbeary. The move came one day after the committee’s Racing and Gaming Subcommittee voted in favor of the legislation.

The key amendments approved by the subcommittee remained in HB 1319, including the licensing structure designed to encourage participation and investment from disadvantaged populations. Atterbeary also introduced more during the brief discussion the panel had on her bill.  

Wednesday’s changes included a provision for video lottery facilities, giving them greater flexibility regarding live-dealer studios. Rather than make those facilities host such studios at their venues – as would be required for the casinos that receive licenses – the live-dealer studio also would be allowed to be located anywhere within the county where the VLT hall is based.

Other amendments in HB 1319 include a ban on using credit cards to deposit funds into a Maryland iGaming account and mandating account holders establish limits on how much they can deposit and play. If an individual wished to increase their limits, they must first abide by a “cooling off” period before the raised limits would take effect.

HB 1319 retains its 55% tax on online slot revenues and a 20% levy on online table games. However, Atterbeary told her colleague the amendment “alters the definition of proceeds for purposes of determining the taxes due.”

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Opposition Remains

Wednesday’s voting session was in stark contrast to the committee’s hearing on the measure two weeks ago when lawmakers heard hours of testimony from proponents and opponents of Maryland iGaming. No one from either side spoke during the roughly seven-minute-long committee presentation and vote.

Still, HB 1319 faces immense opposition from casino labor groups and sections of the Maryland business community. Two of the state’s six brick-and-mortar casinos are also against the bill, joining their workers in raising concerns about online gaming potentially cannibalizing their operations.

The bill now goes before the full Maryland House of Delegates, which has until Monday to pass the bill and send it to the Senate for its consideration.

Atterbeary’s Maryland iGaming bill might receive consideration in the House as the measure dictates the tax funding generated from online casinos would pay for the public education initiative lawmakers passed a few years ago.

That was on the mind of state Del. Chao Wu, who said he typically opposes gambling.

“Eventually, this year’s vote means that we put this issue in front of our voters for a referendum,” Wu said. I really trust our voters to make an informed decision at election time, the same way they elected me to this position two years ago.”

Stay close to as we will cover the progress of HB 1319 as well as provide information and analysis on Maryland sports betting.

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Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters.

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