A Maryland Senate work group that has been helping shape the state’s sports wagering bill came up with recommendations Tuesday that would essentially uncap the number of licenses for certain categories of retail sportsbooks as well as for mobile sports licenses.
The recommendations also include a provision where the largest retail licensees — which currently includes the state’s six casinos, horse racing licensees and pro sports facilities — would donate to a fund. That fund would be used to assist small businesses, minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses in getting up and running in the sports wagering industry.
Such recommendations, if adopted in a final bill, would make Maryland’s approach to sports wagering unique in the U.S.
Maryland’s sports betting future is currently couched in a House of Delegates bill, HB 940, that was sponsored by speaker Adrienne Jones and has already been approved by the full House. The House bill has moved to the state Senate for consideration where it falls under the Budget & Taxation Committee.
The Senate sports wagering work group’s recommendations were passed on to that committee later Tuesday. A committee version would go to the full Senate for a vote and that version would have to be reconciled with the House before going to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. In November, Maryland voters approved sports wagering by a 2-to-1 margin.
Classification Tiers Refined
The work group’s recommendation takes HB 940’s classification of two tiers for retail sports wagering facilities of Class A and Class B and further refines those to Class A-1, Class A-2, Class B-1 and Class B-2.
The proposed Class A-1 includes casinos with more than 1,000 slot machines, horse racing licensees and sports facilities; Class A-2 includes casinos with fewer than 1,000 slot machines; Class B-1 includes facilities which do not qualify for a Class B-2 license, and Class B-2 are entities with fewer than 25 employees.
Application fees are also tiered from a high of $2 million for Class A-1 to a low of $50,000 for Class B-2. Businesses in Class A-1 and Class A-2 would contribute to a fund to assist smaller, minority-owned and women-owned businesses.
Mobile Sports Betting Category
There’s a single category for mobile sports wagering licenses with an application fee of $500,000. Online sports wagering has made up the bulk of sports betting handle throughout the country in states with mobile sports betting options. Those licenses appear to be uncapped in the work group recommendation.
Another proposed tweak of HB 940 is that sports facilities and horse tracks, which were limited in their sportsbook operations to game/racing days, would be allowed to conduct their wagering operations year-round.
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