Maryland Bills Would Set Up Geographic Restrictions Around Class B Retail Sportsbooks

Maryland Bills Would Set Up Geographic Restrictions Around Class B Retail Sportsbooks
By Bill Ordine

Two bills have been introduced in the Maryland General Assembly, one in the state Senate and the other in the state House of Representatives, that would tweak the existing Maryland sports betting law regarding geographic restrictions of certain types of retail sportsbooks in a handful of counties.

The first bet in Maryland was placed by Gov. Larry Hogan at MGM National Harbor’s BetMGM Sportsbook on Dec. 9.

Also opening during December were retail sportsbooks at Live! Hotel and Casino, Horseshoe Baltimore; Ocean Downs Casino, and Hollywood Casino. The sportsbooks reported $16.55 million in wagering handle combined in December with a total taxable win of $3.17 million. Taxes to the state checked in at $470,000.

What Would the Proposed Bills Do?

In essence, the proposed bills would create a specific distance — in this case a 10-mile radius as a buffer — around Class B-1 and Class B-2 “sports wagering facilities” (in plain English, retail sportsbooks).

Class B sportsbooks represent the smaller of two sports wagering facility classifications in Maryland’s law. Among the larger Class A-1 and Class A-2 licenses are the state’s six casinos as well as the state’s pro sports stadiums. The original law had already put geographic restrictions of varying distances around certain licensees.

The 10-mile distance restrictions specified in the recently introduced bills would apply to Class B sports betting businesses in Calvert County, Carrol County, Charles County, Frederick County and Washington County.

The bills, SB297 (Senate version) and HB339 (House version), are cross-filed and direct the state’s Sports Wagering Application Review Commission, a layer of the application approval process for sports betting licenses, to adhere to the geographic restrictions when approving applicants.

Some Class B Licenses Handed Out

As it turns out, the three Class B licensees that have already been granted approval (but are not yet taking wagers) are located in or adjacent to the counties listed in the proposed bills.

All three businesses have had existing OTBs and bar-restaurants. They are: Long Shot’s in Frederick; The Riverboat on the Potomac, which is docked in Virginia but floats in Charles County waters, and Greenmount OTB in Hampstead.

The House bill is in that chamber’s Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate bill is in that chamber’s Senate Budget and Taxation Committee. Both bills are scheduled for committee hearings Feb. 2. Before a bill becomes law in Maryland, it must have several readings, be considered in a number of hearings, then voted on by both chambers before it is sent to the governor for his signature.

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A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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