Maryland

Sports Betting in Maryland

Maryland has had a strange history as it relates to gambling with the mood of the populace vacillating between legalization and prohibition. Maryland gained statehood in 1788 and its history with gambling began just three years later. In 1791, Maryland allowed privately run church lotteries (‘good cause lotteries’) and this would open a ‘can of worms’ that took almost 50 years to reverse. With very little regulation the ‘good cause lotteries’ proliferated well beyond the intent of the original legislation. At one point, estimates indicated that over 1000 lotteries were running in Maryland alone. Not surprisingly, they were rife with cheating and corruption and this led to the end of lottery licensing in Maryland in 1834. It would take another 26 years to eliminate them entirely after which the lotteries moved South and proliferated all over again from their ‘new home’ in Louisiana.

The state assumed oversight of horse racing in 1920 and introduced parimutuel wagering in Maryland. Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is the home of the Preakness Stakes and Laurel Park is also a top level thoroughbred racing facility. There are also two harness tracks at Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway. There are also eight simulcasting facilities throughout the state. The state had a brief experiment deregulating slot machines to the counties. Several counties saw an explosion in the number of slot machines and a few became ‘destinations’ for gamblers. After several attempts, anti-gambling scolds got them banned in 1963 with the last machines being removed in 1968.

The Maryland Lottery began in 1973 and offers a fairly pedestrian selection of games including draw games with Powerball and Mega Millions along with scratch off games and keno. The only other significant change in Maryland state gaming law came in 2008 when video lottery terminals (slot machines) were legalized and in 2012 with a referendum passing that allowed casino table games. The casinos currently operating in the state are the Hollywood Casino Perryville, the Casino at Ocean Downs, the Live! Casino & Hotel, the Rocky Gap Casino Resort, the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore and the MGM National Harbor. All offer slots and table games with the MGM National Harbor and Horseshoe Casino Baltimore featuring live poker.

Sports betting has been discussed in the Maryland legislature though in very incremental form. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for the state to add sports betting to their gaming mix but as of the 2018 legislative session there’s nothing ‘in the pipeline’.

Sports Betting in Baltimore

Maryland is a much better gambling environment than nearby Washington, DC though from a practical standpoint the area has a similar array of gambling offerings. There’s a state lottery and parimutuel wagering available in Maryland. Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course is the home of the Preakness Stakes and Laurel Park is also a top level thoroughbred racing facility. There are also two harness tracks at Ocean Downs and Rosecroft Raceway. There are also eight simulcasting facilities throughout the state.

Maryland has a decent number of casino gambling options with the downside being that their ‘slot machines’ are in actuality video lottery terminals (VLTs). The two closest casinos to Baltimore are the Live! Casino and Hotel in Hanover, MD and the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore. It’s also a one hour drive to the $1.2 billion MGM National Harbor which opened in late 2016. This is the closest casino to DC and features over 3,000 video lottery terminals and 165 table games. The Live! Casino and Hotel actually has more slot machines and gaming tables than the massive MGM National Harbor. Parimutuel wagering is also offered in Maryland. The Horseshoe Baltimore has over 2,300 slots and video poker machines plus table games, live poker and a race book.

Baltimore is also close to West Virginia and its variety of casino gambling options. The most popular destination is the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races just 90 minutes away. It offers over 2,500 slot machines including video poker and video keno. They also offer the full compliment of table games, a poker room and most recently opened the first legal sports book in the state of West Virginia. It’s less than two hours to any of Delaware’s gaming properties—Dover Downs, Delaware Park and Harrington Casino and Raceway. All three properties offer slots, table games and poker plus Delaware has the distinction of the first state outside of Nevada to offer sports betting in the post-PASPA world. Baltimore is also a quick 2.5 hours drive to Atlantic City, New Jersey and its assortment of casino gaming properties with sports betting. Were that not enough, Pennsylvania is less than two hours away with even more casino options that will soon be adding sports betting.

Sports betting has been discussed in the Maryland legislature though in very incremental form. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for the state to add sports betting to their gaming mix but as of the 2018 legislative session there’s nothing ‘in the pipeline’.

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