Maryland Sports Betting on Election Day Ballot, Simple Majority Needed

Posted on: November 3, 2020, 10:49h. 

Last updated on: November 3, 2020, 12:26h.

Today, Maryland voters are deciding who should lead the United States for the next four years, but they’re also voting whether they want to allow legal sports betting.

Maryland sports betting casino gambling
Voters in Maryland are being questioned if they approve of allowing sports betting to be legalized. (Image: The Baltimore Sun)

Question 2, the Sports Betting Expansion Measure, asks Marylanders, “Do you approve of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

If a simple majority backs the ballot referendum, Maryland will join 22 other states and DC in passing legislation to allow sports gambling. Sports betting is also on the ballot today in Louisiana and South Dakota.

The biggest sports betting opportunity on the ballot this year is in Maryland, given the significant population base, household income demographics, and sports culture. All of Maryland’s neighbors already approved sports betting, and the state legislature passed the bill with a near unanimous support (save three votes), so we like the odds,” explained analyst John DeCree of Union Gaming.

Maryland moving forward with legal sports betting would be welcomed by the six casino operators that are invested in the Old Line State. They include five publicly traded companies — MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Penn National Gaming, Golden Entertainment, Churchill Downs — and the privately controlled Cordish Companies.

DraftKings and FanDuel would also benefit from Maryland entering the sports betting industry. The two sportsbook powerhouses jointly contributed more than $2.75 million to committees backing Question 2.

Scant on Specifics

Senate Bill 4, the sports and event wagering referendum that is before voters, was passed by the Maryland General Assembly. But Gov. Larry Hogan (R) refused to sign it. The governor instead allowed it to pass without his signature.

SB4 was rushed through the Maryland legislature in March, lawmakers deciding to put the issue before voters without many concrete details. Time was a factor, as the General Assembly adjourned early on March 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Particulars on the regulatory conditions that would govern sports betting were not provided to voters. Maryland lawmakers instead opted to see first if residents want such gambling — and decide on specifics later if they do.

The lack of information regarding what a legal sports betting market might look like led to The Baltimore Sun voicing its opposition. “There should be more transparency,” the state’s most circulated paper opined.

“Work out the details, then Marylanders can make an informed decision. Until then, we urge a vote against Question 2,” the Sun concluded.

DeCree isn’t overly worried about the shell referendum question.

“Some pundits suggest the lack of specifics could serve as a hang-up at the polls to getting this one over the finish line. But we disagree. We actually think asking voters to approve just sports betting is cleaner and easier,” DeCree explained.

Hogan Embraces Gaming Expansion

Though he did not sign SB4, Hogan said in the weeks leading up to the election that he supports expanding gambling to include sports betting.

“Question 2 provides a critical revenue source for public education without raising taxes on families and businesses,” the governor declared. “This initiative builds on the very successful ‘Hogan Lockbox,’ which puts casino revenues in a lockbox dedicated to education.”

Polls on the referendum were limited. But a survey conducted by Our Voice Maryland in late September found that 53 percent of likely voters will back Question 2. However, that’s within the poll’s 4.6-point margin of error.

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