A Maryland House of Delegates committee has approved a sports betting bill that would see as many as 22 in-person sports betting locations and 15 mobile betting options within the state.
The House Ways & Means Committee approved House Bill 940, a measure that has the backing of House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones.
Under her guidance, the bill has been amended to make it easier for female and minority entrepreneurs to get a foothold in the industry.
As a result of those amendments, HB 940 will now allow 12 ‘Class A’ licenses across Maryland which is an increase on the original 10 proposed. The increase in licenses would see all the state’s casinos along with the State Fairgrounds, the Maryland Jockey Club, the Riverboat on the Potomac, and all of the pro teams that play at Maryland’s three pro football and baseball stadiums receive a license.
The committee also amended the bill to now offer 10 ‘Class B’ licenses to those properties that don’t qualify for ‘Class A’ licenses.
The bill also makes provisions for 15 mobile betting licenses, an increase on the original 10 proposed. Mobile licenses are open to bids and the application process will be managed by the State Lottery and Gaming Control Commission. This means that holders of ‘Class A’ and ‘Class B’ licenses don’t automatically receive a license to run mobile sports betting operations.
The Commission will be required to give as much help as possible to minority and female entrepreneurs who apply for any of the available licenses.
The committee and House Speaker Jones feel that an expanded pool of license holders will create better services and increased competition within the industry.
Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), the head of the Legislative Black Caucus and a member of the Ways & Means panel felt that it was necessary to make provisions for minorities and referenced “the lessons learned from medical cannabis”. The medical cannabis license process saw all licenses issued to white business owners.
Speaking of the new bill, Del. Barnes said:
“Nowhere in the union has a sports bill been put together like we are doing here in the state of Maryland, which gives greater opportunity for minorities to participate.”
Both Caesar’s Entertainment — that own Baltimore’s Horseshoe Casino — and the Washington Football Team have pledged to have a minimum minority ownership stake.
The introduction of HB 940 follows the November ballot that saw 67% of the electorate vote in favor of legalized sports betting.