Maryland Will Allow Voters to Have a Say on Legalized Sports Betting

It looks as though Maryland voters will be the driving force and deciding factor behind whether or not sports betting will become legal in the state.

A referendum posing the question to voters will appear on the ballot in November thanks to the legislation that Governor Larry Hogan has allowed into law without his signature on it.

It was notable that Gov. Hogan allowed the sports betting bill since he ended up vetoing a number of other key bills just last week – all of which were seen as important to the state.

The Groundwork Is Being Laid

Besides the fact that voters will now have their say at the ballot box in November, Gov. Hogan also authorized a substantial redevelopment project that will affect the sports betting industry should it move forward.

Baltimore’s Pimlico Race course has been given the green light to go ahead with a redevelopment plan. The track plays host to the Triple Crown’s Preakness.

As for the sports betting bill itself, it was approved back in mid-March by the Maryland General Assembly. That took place before the legislative session adjourned for a few weeks. It is now back in session, which is why the topic is being discussed once again.

If voters decide to approve the measure in November, it would mean that the legislature would then need to take the next steps to figure out licensing approval, tax rates, regulations, and how actual sports betting could be put in place and implemented.

All of that takes time and lots of discussion, but it is possible that if things go smoothly that sports betting could be legalized sometime in 2021.

Why Do Voters Get a Say in the Matter?

There have been a number of states that have already gone ahead and legalized sports betting at this point, but not all have to follow the same process. In Maryland a voter referendum is required by law.

Even the way the question would be worded requires careful thought, as it will need to ask about authorizing sports betting, and what that revenue would help to pay for – in this case education. This is according to the House version of the referendum question that has been amended.

As it stands right now, the question to voters would ask the following:

“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

If the referendum passes, it would make Maryland the third state to actually legalized sports betting in this manner. The other two are Colorado and Arkansas. Currently the state of Louisiana is also mulling over the same legislation and would need to pose the referendum in November to all 64 of the state’s parishes.

Will Sports Betting Pass in November?

The question on everyone’s minds right now seems to be will the referendum pass? What will voters decide? Currently, there is no clear cut answer.

It truly could go either way at this point. In a recent poll that was conducted in February by Goucher College in Baltimore results showed that 43% of voters opposed legalized sports betting while 47% supported it. A very tight race indeed, and considering that was back in February things could have changed by now.

Maryland is looking to be more competitive in its gambling options. Right now, Maryland offers online casino gambling, but in terms of other gaming options and sports betting, its neighboring states have Maryland beat which only adds to the state’s desperation to legalize sports betting.

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Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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