Will Maryland legalize online casinos in the 2024 legislative session? Online casino gambling is already legal in several of its neighboring states. The Ways and Means Committee in Maryland recently spent hours discussing House Bill 1319, introduced by House sponsor rep. Vanessa Atterbeary. The bill would create 12 online casino licenses and doesn’t tether them to land-based casinos. It would tax the industry at 55% or 20% for live dealer games. The bill lists an initial licensing fee of $1 million, with each license being valid for five years.

Ways and Means Committee discusses Bill 1319

Maryland law currently allows in-person casino gambling as well as online sportsbooks.

In February, the Ways and Means Committee lawmakers discussed Bill 1319, which would legalize online casinos. They heard from Maryland online casino proponents and opponents. Four Maryland land-based casinos supported the issue and said that online casinos would be complementary to in-person offerings. The two other casino operators opposed the bill as they felt it would be detrimental to their operations.

Senate bills 565 and 603

Senator Ron Watson has led the charge in the Senate with two bills, SB 565 and SB 603. The key difference between them and Bill 1319 is that they designate up to two licenses to each of Maryland’s six land-based casino operators and five more untethered licenses. The proposed tax rate is 47%, and SB 603 allows for multi-state internet gaming agreements.

The legislative session runs through to April 8th, and the cross-over deadline is March 18th. Legislators have a few weeks following the hearings to move the legislation into the opposite chamber.

Online gamblers won’t need to budget for betting this year. Even if one of the two bills passes through both chambers, voters still need to approve it in November.

A 2025 launch date for online casinos

As voters still need to give their approval in November, Maryland online casinos will only launch in 2025 if voters approve. To expand iGaming in Maryland, it’s necessary to amend the constitution. It can only become law if it gets a majority vote in the state’s general election.

As Maryland is one of the states where sports betting is legal, online bettors can still have fun placing sports bets even if they can’t gamble at online casinos. They can also continue gambling at Maryland’s six land-based casinos. There are also social and sweepstakes online casinos where Maryland residents can play legally for fun instead of for real money.

Highlights of bills SB 565 and SB 603

The Senator Ron Watson’s two bills are intended to help fund the public education system in Maryland. They both specify privacy protections and responsible gambling requirements for players.