Maryland Considering Legalizing Sports Betting Without Public Vote
Maryland General Assembly leaders are "considering a fast-track proposal" under which lawmakers would legalize sports betting "without first seeking voter approval" in the November '20 election, according to a front-page piece by Jeff Barker of the BALTIMORE SUN. A voter-approved constitutional amendment has "long been considered a precursor" for Maryland to join other states that have legalized sports betting. Maryland legislative leaders and casino and racetrack lobbyists are now "studying a plan in which the state would place the regulation of sports betting under the lottery and gaming agency." Changes or "additions to lottery games are exempt" from an '07 requirement that "any new commercial gaming must be approved by a majority of voters in a general election." Maryland state Senate President Thomas Miller said he would consider allowing sports betting moving forward if the principals "can agree this year to bypass the constitution." Maryland Speaker of the House Michael Busch has been "vocal about the potential benefits of sports betting." Busch said, "Hopefully we can expand sports betting and dedicate that money to the education fund. That's taking place in all the other states around us" (BALTIMORE SUN, 1/17).
LONG & WINDING RHODE: In Providence, Katherine Gregg notes Rhode Island state Senate President Dominick Ruggerio has "introduced his long-promised legislation to allow mobile sports betting," setting the stage for Gov. Gina Raimondo to "include millions in potential new gambling revenue" in the proposed '19-20 budget. The state would receive 51% of "'all winnings' from sports wagering" under the proposed legislation. Ruggerio said it would be one of the "highest rates in the country" (PROVIDENCE JOURNAL, 1/17).
RIVER RUNS: ESPN.com's David Purdum noted Mississippi's 23 casinos have combined to take in over $157M in wagers since the first "legal sports bets" were placed Aug. 1. This comes despite casinos "only being permitted to offer in-person betting." Mississippi books finished '18 up a net $14.8M, with a "solid 10.6 hold percentage -- greater than Las Vegas books." However, it "wasn't a stress-free ride for the books." In October and November, sportsbooks in the states' coastal region "suffered back-to-back losing months on football bets, including a $600,000 hit in October." However, the books also "made it all back up and then some" on baseball and basketball those months. State Gaming Commission Deputy Dir Jay McDaniel said since implementing sports betting in August, gross gaming revenue "was up in every region" (ESPN.com, 1/16).
HAWKEYE BETTING: Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino has "entered into a partnership with William Hill U.S. to operate the casino's sports book should gambling on sporting events officially become legal in Iowa." In Des Moines, Richardson & Gruber-Miller note the casino is "constructing an 8,600-square-foot sports book" as part of a "larger remodeling project." Prairie Meadows is the "first of Iowa's 19 commercial casinos to formally announce a sports betting partnership" (DES MOINES REGISTER, 1/17).