Sports betting is coming to Maryland. What you need to know.
Maryland has joined the growing number of states to approve legalized sports betting, though lawmakers still need to decide on even the most basic details before the first bets are made.
Voters favored the sports betting ballot question by a 2-to-1 margin, with 75 percent of Maryland precincts reporting.
Major questions remain, including when sports betting could begin and what the industry would look like in Maryland.
That's because the General Assembly passed a simplified version of its sports betting law in the days before the coronavirus forced lawmakers to end their session early in March.
Though a more detailed bill passed the Senate, the House approved a pared-down version that ultimately went on the ballot.
Now, with the blessing of voters, legislators have the go-ahead to proceed with more detailed plans for sports betting when they return to Annapolis in 2021.
Sen. Craig Zucker, a Montgomery County Democrat who sponsored the sports betting legislation, said in a previous interview that he expects lawmakers will approve mobile wagering.
"I can't imagine a scenario where we wouldn't allow mobile betting," Zucker said. "Eighty to 90 percent of sports betting is done online."
Legislative analysts estimated that legalizing sports betting could bring in annual revenues of about $20 million.
The ballot question said that money will go toward education funding, though key details of how sports betting would be taxed and how the money would be allocated are still to be decided.
Critics of sports betting have said it will not solve spending problems in Annapolis.
Delegate William Wivell, a Washington County Republican who voted "no" on sending the sports betting legislation to the ballot, said in a previous interview that the revenues raised from sports betting are just a "drop in the bucket."
"The legislature has a spending problem, and the amount of revenue that's going to be generated by sports betting is not going to bail them out of that problem," Wivell said.
A region-wide movement
Maryland is among the last states in the region to adopt sports betting. Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia and the District of Columbia all allow retail and mobile sports betting. Delaware has options for retail sports betting but doesn't yet offer mobile betting.
Sports betting has spread quickly across the country since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law that largely blocked states from authorizing betting on sports.
About two dozen states have legalized some form of sports betting, according to a tally kept by DraftKings, an online sports betting company.
DraftKings, FanDuel, Maryland casinos and other entities spent millions of dollars to convince voters to legalize sports betting, campaign finance reports show.
Budget ballot question also approved
Maryland voters on Tuesday also voted in favor of a ballot question that would give state legislators greater control over the state's budget.
The measure, which does not go into effect until fiscal year 2024, will allow the General Assembly to make changes to the proposed budget and move money around, as long as the total amount does not exceed what the governor proposes.
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The governor could exercise a line-item veto on individual changes, but the General Assembly could also override those vetos.
Voters favored the change by a margin of 74 percent to 25 percent. Senate President Bill Ferguson said in a statement that the ballot question's passage shows "Marylanders recognize that our Legislative branch is a co-equal branch of government, entrusted and relied upon to protect our shared values for the future."
Republican lawmakers, however, largely opposed the measure and warned that it could leave rural areas of the state with less say over the budget. Gov. Larry Hogan also encouraged voters to reject the measure, calling it a "blatant cash and power grab" by lawmakers.
Madeleine O'Neill covers the Maryland State House for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @maddioneill.