Broken lightbulb

Maryland’s push for online casino legislation fell flat on Monday after it was made apparent that the igaming bill that made its way from the House into the Senate was met without adulation. 

The bill, which would have offered up to 30 online casino licences for the Old Line State, faced controversy from its inception and throughout its journey through the house as opponents fought against the motion.

A key issue surrounding the bill stemmed from a flurry of research studies that presented the issue of online casinos potentially cannibalising land-based venues.

One paper from Eilers and Krejcik commissioned by iDEA growth placed the impact on retail bottom lines at around two percent, whereas more damning studies found this figure to be somewhere between eight and 10 per cent, as suggested in research from The Innovation Group.

This led unions to come out in full force against the online casino bill, alongside anti-gambling opponents and retail organisations. The AFL-CIO and UNITE Here were just some of the labour groups that showed up in Maryland’s Capital, Annapolis to diminish the legislation. 

Despite this long-lasting opposition, a version of House Delegate Vanessa E Atterbeary’s House Bill 1319 managed to pass through the lower chamber in March by a vote of 92-43.

The bill undertook a similar process to that of the state’s consideration of sports betting in 2020, with Maryland voters weighing in on the subject via referendum. 

However, the Maryland Senate showed no interest in legalising igaming, which would have required a change to the state constitution, as the state budget was announced without an inclusion of tax revenue from online casino expansion. 

Bill HB 1339 was then not included on the agenda for the Budget and Taxation Committee, which met multiple times on Monday, spelling the end of Maryland’s igaming consideration for now.