Maryland Online Poker Law
Like the Terrapin mascot of the University of Maryland, Maryland is slowly making its way to the finish line that is online poker legalization.
In 2012, it looked like Maryland had a decent chance to pass a sweeping online gaming bill that was part of a bill to give live casinos table games, but its language was removed at the last minute. Maryland had five casinos that spread slots and table games, with a sixth scheduled to open in 2014. Maryland is the second-fastest growing casino market in the United States. In 2012, more than $377.8 million was spent by consumers in casinos there.
Maryland’s House speaker Michael Busch was the man behind the bill, and his push to include online gaming and poker in it showed his concern about Maryland losing the race for a piece of the significant amount of revenue generated by other states where online gaming was (or soon will be) already live.
“In order to maintain a healthy and competitive gaming program that attracts players from beyond Maryland’s borders and keeps Maryland gamers at home, we must put our gaming program on par with other jurisdictions in the mid-Atlantic,” Busch write to his Democrat colleagues, telling them of his plan.
Unfortunately, Busch moved a little too fast in assuming that his colleagues would be ready to adopt online poker and gaming for its residents. That part of the bill was removed when no interest was shown by his fellow statesfolk. Afterwards, Busch had a conference with the head of the Maryland State Lottery, and they determined the issue needed more study.
At a federal level, Maryland Governor Mike O’Malley felt compelled to share his concerns about Congressman Joe Barton’s Internet gaming bill, which, if passed, would have legalized online poker across the country.
He wrote to Congress in opposition to the bill: “In Maryland, for example, federalized poker and casino gambling would put at risk the $519 million annually we generate from our state lottery — our state’s fourth-largest source of revenue — and jeopardize the jobs and survival of lottery retailers, many of which are small businesses.”
That doesn’t mean O’Malley is against online poker in his state. He just wants to be sure to he protects what he perceives as his, the proceeds the state can make from online poker players.
When Will I Get to Play Online Poker in Maryland
Maryland has recently shown a willingness to give gambling consumers what they want when its General assembly approved table games, which included poker. The Speaker of the house has shown a concern to remain competitive with its neighbors, one of which — Delaware — has already gone live with online poker and casino games.
Although there was no movement in online poker in Maryland in 2013, possibly expect some sort of online gaming study to be launched in 2014. Depending on what’s in that study, expect politicians to move on an online poker or gambling bill anytime from 2015 onward.