Guide to Maryland’s Sports Betting Laws

Marylands Online Gambling LawsGambling Laws in Maryland have been swinging to-and-fro between legalization-and-prohibition since the early 1700’s. Licensed lotteries were legal for many years until tainted with the-brush-of-corruption and banned. Slot machines helped Maryland develop the reputation of a ‘mini-Vegas’ in the 1950’s until prohibition won-out again. The current resurgence of land-based casinos in Maryland is led by a state government seeking to compete with its neighbors for gambling revenue.

Gambling Type Legal Land-Based Legal Online
Sports Betting No No
Casinos Yes No
Fantasy Sports (DFS) N/A Yes
eSports No No
Poker Yes No
Horse-Racing Yes Yes
Lottery Yes No
Charitable-Gambling Yes No

Maryland Gambling Tax Rate

Maryland Residents; 9.25% tax on gambling winnings.

Non-Residents; 7.5% tax on gambling winnings.

Large wins attract Federal taxes.

Maryland legal gambling Age

Gambling Type Age
DFS 18
Casinos 21
Horse-Racing 18
Lottery 18
Charitable-Gambling 18

Maryland Sports Betting

The state of New Jersey won its challenge in May 2018 to the Federal Government ban on sports betting. Overnight, sports betting laws were ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court to be handed back-to-each-state to decide for themselves, and until now, Maryland’s nearest neighbor, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia have joined Nevada and New Jersey as states with legalized sports betting.

Sports Betting in Maryland

Maryland’s State Legislators have yet to turn the topic of legal betting on sports to the state’s residents for vote by referendum under the guidelines of House Bill HB 1014 on answers to the twin questions ‘is sports betting legal in Maryland?’ and ‘is online sports betting legal in Maryland?’.

Firstly, there are a number of administrative questions including sports betting taxes to be answered, however, it appears to be only-a-matter-of-time until the lawmakers agree on how sports betting in Maryland may be regulated and administered.

Fans of the adoption of legal sports betting in the Old-Line State can take heart knowing the influential Maryland’s casinos strongly support sports betting. If the state’s voters approve by referendum, lawmakers are likely to follow suit with legislation without few questions knowing both the public and the casino lobby support them.

In the meantime, Maryland’s residents and visitors can enjoy the sports betting options of DFS and horse and greyhound racing.

Sports Betting Online

Online Sports Betting in Maryland is currently prohibited under the state’s gambling laws.

As is the norm in many States of the Union, the broad wording of the Maryland State statutes is considered broad sweeping enough to cover online gambling as illegal, although it has never been tested in any court. We anticipate that may potentially alter when the State Legislature drafts the laws that will cover legalized sports betting.

As mentioned above, in the meantime, DFS and online betting on horse and greyhound racing are both legal ways for the online sports bettor to wager in Maryland.

Casinos in Maryland

In the 1940s, counties in Maryland were given the option to legally operate slots machines if they wished. A small section of Maryland on the Potomac exercised the option and until 1963, (when slots were banned again) became known as ‘Little Vegas’.

Land-based casinos were deemed illegal then until 2012, when Maryland’s voters re-legalized casinos and in 2013, 5 land-based casinos opened their doors in Maryland. An additional sixth casino (a horse racing track) was also given the green light as a legal casino with the addition of casino gambling games.

Maryland’s Land-based Casinos

Maryland’s land-based casinos, (administered by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency) operate almost 13 000 slots and gaming machines, and oversee nearly 500 casino table games. Since the opening of the casinos in 2013, gambling funds leaving the state of Maryland for neighboring states have diminished, and much-needed tax revenue is now staying in Maryland instead of lining the state coffers of Delaware and New Jersey.

Online Casinos in Maryland

Online gambling in Maryland is limited to horse and greyhound racing and DFS. Accordingly, for the time being, gambling online at online casinos is implicitly illegal in Maryland.

Therefore, in the interim, potential online players in Maryland should avoid playing both off-shore and U.S. based online casinos and not risk criminal charges.

State Legislators in Maryland are actively monitoring nearby states where online gambling is legal as they consider a four-point-plan of;

  • enhancing the state’s revenues,
  • catering to low budget players,
  • adhering to precedents in other states and;
  • ensuring players security.

Horse Racing Betting in Maryland

As Maryland has a historic heritage with Horse Racing (the Maryland Jockey Club was founded in 1743), residents of, and visitors to the state of Maryland have a great range of legal options for on course and off-track betting locations and online horse racing betting sites.

Track Side: There are 5 Horse Racing tracks (including the iconic Pimlico Racetrack, home of the second leg of the Triple Crown – the Preakness Stakes) in the State of Maryland and 2 live harness racing tracks.

Off-Track Betting (OTB): The small state of Maryland currently offers 6 OTB locations, although there is no legal impediment to the number of OTBs available and occasionally OTB’s are open for service (under state license) at county fairs.

Online Betting on Horse Racing in Maryland: Most online horse racing betting sites operating in the United States accept customers from the Old-Line State of Maryland and offer real money betting action on all the big U.S. races (the Preakness Stakes and the rest of the Triple Crown, Arkansas Derby, Kentucky Derby etc.) and international horse racing.

Maryland’s Daily Fantasy Sports Laws

U.S. Federal Law legalizes Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) competitions as they are considered to be a contest of skill, rather than a gambling game of chance. Many state governments have taken the Federal ruling onboard and have ruled DFS to be a part of their state laws.

Maryland is no exception. While the law has undergone several incarnations since state lawmakers first legalized DFS in 2012 under Section 12-114 of the Maryland State Code, the implicit understanding has always been that DFS betting is not considered to be gambling.

All major DFS companies are able to legally accept players from Maryland in their real money DFS competitions.

What exactly is DFS?

 While many of Maryland’s residents are currently playing DFS on a regular basis, many more have no concept of what a DFS competition actually is. That’s not unusual, as many more across the United States are not aware of how a DFS competition operates.

 A DFS competition is a totally unique version of sports betting that has little to do with an ‘old school’ win/loss sports bet or wager. When playing a DFS league, a virtual ‘salary cap’ is allotted for your ‘team’ which you use to ‘spend’ on drafting players into your DFS team.

The real-world sports stars in each associated league (NHL, MLB, NBA, NFL and college football and basketball) are priced according to their real-world performances and career statistics (just like transfer fees in the real-sports world). For example, a superstar quarterback like Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers, could cost as much as 30% of your NFL DFS team budget with still 8 places remaining to fill.

‘Paying’ for Aaron Rodgers will potentially leave a DFS contestant with much less money to spend on other quality players for their fantasy team. Consistently performing team players who don’t command high ‘buy-in’ prices are the favourites of the best DFS contestants and usually feature in the highest scoring teams.

In an NFL DFS league, participants may select a new fantasy NFL team every day or allotted time period: spending from their budget on running backs, receivers, defensive linemen, a quarterback linebackers, tight ends etc. Points are accumulated based the performances of the players in the real-world games.

Daily, weekly or even season-long DFS competition winners can potentially receive as much as $1 million per competition, per major league.

Poker Laws in Maryland

Live Poker was illegal in Maryland, even at licensed casinos until the outcome of the November 2012 referendum legalized table games at the state’s casinos. Now, you’ll find more than 125 legal and live poker tables across the state.

Home poker games became legal in Maryland in 2016 when the State Legislature signed off on HB 127, legalizing private home poker and card games under certain conditions;

  • No games involving more than $1000 stakes during any 24-hour period.
  • The game is not held more than once a week
  • Advertised to the public is not allowed; and
  • Organizers cannot profit off the game, only players.

Online Poker Laws in Maryland

Online Poker is a still unavailable for online players currently in Maryland, however, the online poker topic has not been ruled by the state’s legislators as untenable. Part of the answer lies in how the state’s casinos approach online gambling with their future solutions to the potential online sports betting uptake in Maryland.

eSports Betting in Maryland

Given the approaching sun-rising-on-the-horizon of legal sports betting for citizens of Maryland, eSports betting’s legality will transform betting in the Old-Line State. Winning exciting eSports wagers in radical new ways through betting markets never experienced before will create a potentially record-setting new tax revenue stream for the State Government of Maryland.

What are ‘eSports’?

Since the earliest days of video games, there’s always been a competitive side to the game play and players have always desired to rank themselves with their colleagues.

Now, professional video game play at the top level, (i.e.eSports) has given rise to wagering on the outcomes of the rich and widespread global tournaments.

eSports is now a huge and growing industry, where pros play an official network of professional gaming tournaments playing games like Overwatch, Starcraft II, FIFA 18/19 and Fortnite). With its roots in groups of close friends hosting marathon LAN parties, the eSports industry shows no signs of diminishing in popularity. The global eSports market will cross the $1 billion per annum barrier in 2018/19 and with every tournament, entrance tickets become harder to get.

There is big money to be made of course, and where there is big money, sportsbooks follow. Worldwide sportsbooks now offer betting markets across all the big eSports tournaments.

Expect to see eSports betting in Maryland soon at your favorite legalized Old-Line State sportsbook.

Benefits of Legal Gambling to Maryland

  • Legal Gambling in Maryland contributes hundreds of millions of dollars annually to state programs.
  • Gambling revenue has assisted with more than $2.1 billion raised for the Maryland Education Trust Fund, which supports Kindergarten through Year 12 public education programs, public school and higher-education construction and capital improvements including community colleges.
  • Gambling revenue also supports local impact grants, Maryland’s horse racing industry and a range of minority, small and women-owned businesses across the state.
  • Gambling increases economic growth as a whole in Maryland and the industry supplies more than 3000 direct jobs (paying well above the minimum wage) and creates hundreds more jobs indirectly in associated service industries like restaurants, bars, taxis and entertainment to Marylanders.

History of Gambling in Maryland

1743; Maryland Jockey Club founded.

1791; First legalized gambling took place in Maryland through church lotteries, leading to a boom in lotteries. Many thousands were operating at one point.

1834; Lotteries prohibited.  A legal lottery would not be offered again in Maryland for almost another 140 years.

1920; Horse Racing board formed to oversee legal betting on horse racing in Maryland.

1943-49; Slot machines legalized in several counties in Maryland.

1963; Slot machines prohibited.

1973; Maryland State Lottery created.

2012; State referendum passes legalizing casino table games and 6 casinos now operate in Maryland as a result.

2012; DFS legalized in Maryland under Section 12-114 of the Maryland State Code

2016; Bill HB 127, legalizing private home poker and card games under certain conditions passed into law by Maryland State Governor Larry Hogan.

2018-19?; Sports Betting & Online Gambling legalized after debate in the Maryland State Legislature and resulting state referendum?



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