Maryland Lawmakers To Consider Online Casinos In Special Session

Next week, lawmakers will meet in Maryland for a special session to determine the next course of action in an effort to help plug budget gaps. One of the top topics that will be discussed in the special session is online casinos, and whether or not they are a viable option to assist in raising funds in the state.

Maryland legislator Michael Busch, a Anne Arundel Democrat, sent a preview of the upcoming special session to chamber Democrats, and the memo contained information on possible online gambling legislation that is expected to be discussed next week.

The state of Maryland has been battling with other Northeastern states in the gaming industry since casinos were formally approved by voters a few years ago. Since that time, several casinos have opened, including one in Busch’s backyard, Anne Arundel. Voters approved a casino for the Anne Arundel mall and the casino has been an economic success since opening. Busch believes that online gambling may be the next step for Maryland to keep up with their neighbors.

“Since the voters overwhelmingly approved the establishment of a Maryland gaming program in 2008, every surrounding state with a gaming program has expanded to include table games, and, in some cases, other forms of gambling,” wrote Busch in the memo. “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.”

While table games for state casinos is a priority for Busch in the special session, online gambling is only in the first stages of discussion among lawmakers. If approved, Maryland would only reap the benefits from online gamblers in their own state, as federal laws currently are set up to discourage Internet gambling.

Nevada and Delaware have authorized online gambling, but are only permitting licensed online casinos to take bets from residents in their respective states.

It was Delaware’s move to allow online gambling that has prompted Busch and other Maryland legislators to reconsider their gaming laws. Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed a bill earlier this summer that will not only allow for online casinos, but also will expand the current keno offerings to up to 100 additional locations around the state. Currently, only the three regulated casinos in Delaware can offer keno.

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