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Gambling in Maryland

Gambling laws in Maryland are pretty strict, but the state is becoming more progressive when it comes to online gambling. It is legal to gamble in the Old Line State, but all gambling must take place in person. That could change in 2021 if residents of Maryland pass a ballot initiative to legalize online sports betting. If successful, lawmakers believe that this could open the door to online gambling being expanded in the state.

Gambling laws in Maryland are pretty strict, but the state is becoming more progressive when it comes to online gambling. It is legal to gamble in the Old Line State, but all gambling must take place in person. That could change in 2021 if residents of Maryland pass a ballot initiative to legalize online sports betting. If successful, lawmakers believe that this could open the door to online gambling being expanded in the state.

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The Road to Legal Online Sports Betting in Maryland

Maryland online sports betting could be live as early as 2021, but there is still plenty of work to be done. The first step is getting approval from the voters, but then state lawmakers will have to go back to work. Maryland online sports betting laws were not included in the ballot initiative, and those will have to be developed and signed by the Governor before any sports betting sites go live.

Senate Bill 0004 was passed by both the House of Delegates and the Senate and is now sitting on Governor Larry Hogan’s desk for approval. House Bill 225 was also introduced in February, but it did not pass through the House, making SB0004 the clear choice. Since the coronavirus pandemic cut the session short, the House of Delegates stripped the bill of almost all the language.

The initial bill would have allowed licensed casinos and professional sports teams in Maryland the opportunity to apply for a sports betting license. Sports betting could be done on-site, or those with a license could partner with a sports betting company to create a sportsbook.

Betting on professional and collegiate sporting events was a part of this bill. Betting on esports was also included.

Since much of the language was taken out of the bill, lawmakers will have to propose a new bill if the initiative passes. It will likely look very similar to SB4, but some changes could be made to the licensing process.

The Wait for Online Casinos in Maryland Continues

There are currently six casinos in Maryland, and that is where all casino gambling must take place. Marylanders can gamble at social casinos, but no money is wagered or won through these options. These social casinos operate like sweepstakes machines, with jackpots that give out a wide array of prizes.

Online casinos have not been approved in the state, but lawmakers are keeping a close eye on the surrounding states. Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania have all explored or launched online gambling recently, and their success could determine what happens in Maryland.

Gaming machines in Maryland date back to the late 1940s, when over 9,000 were installed in the state. These lasted until 1968, when Maryland outlawed these machines, effectively ending the casino and gaming industry. In 2008, voters approved a constitutional amendment that allowed slot machines in five specific locations. In 2013, a state commission awarded Maryland’s sixth and final casino license to MGM Resorts International.

Where Can You Play Poker in Maryland?

Live poker games are offered at four of the six casinos, but that is the only place to play poker in Maryland. The state has some strict poker laws, and there is little chance of those changing anytime soon.If you want to play poker online in Maryland, you will likely have to wait until online casino gambling is legal. The state has been focused on legalizing sports betting over the last few months, and online poker has been an afterthought. Maryland has strict laws when it comes to playing poker, and those laws don’t allow for any online gambling.

Maryland Was One of the First States to Legalize DFS

Marylanders can choose from several legal DFS sites, and all these sites are regulated by the Maryland comptroller. MD was one of the first states to explicitly legalize daily fantasy sports by passing a law in 2012. In 2017, lawmakers agreed that the industry should be regulated, and the Comptroller came up with a list of rules and regulations for DFS players operators.

Mobile DFS apps are allowed in Maryland, but college sports contests are not allowed to be offered by DFS operators. Maryland state tax is 9.25% of DFS winnings by a resident. The gambling age to play a paid-entry DFS contest is set at 18. Lawmakers questioned the legality of DFS sites in 2018, but a proposed bill did not get anywhere to make changes to the industry.

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Lottery Tickets Cannot Be Purchased Online in Maryland

The Maryland Lottery was formed in 1972 after voters agreed to pass a constitutional amendment allowing the government to set up a state lottery. The lottery officially began on January 2, 1973. Even though the lottery has an online website, all lottery tickets must be purchased through a retail provider.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission is an appointed group, and members serve four-year terms. The seven members are appointed by the Governor, and the Senate must approve of the appointments. The Commission also regulates the video lottery terminals located in Maryland. They took on that responsibility in 2008.

Other Facts About Gambling in Maryland

Maryland earned the nickname of “Little Vegas” in the 1950s due to its abundance of slot machines and video gaming. The state legislature shut down this gambling operation in the 1960s, and the state has had some pretty strict gambling laws since that time. The Maryland state constitution has some pretty strict laws when it comes to gambling, and all online gambling has been outlawed until the last few years.

Maryland was progressive in its legalization of daily fantasy sports, becoming the first state in the US to legalize DFS play. All six casinos have been built since 2012, and they have brought in a significant amount of revenue since being built.

The state tax on DFS revenue for Maryland residents is 9.25%. Nonresidents that play DFS within state borders will have their revenue taxed at 7.5% if the winnings are over $5,000.

The state has not yet decided what the tax rate on sports betting will be, and the cost of licenses is not set either. This discussion will come up if voters in the state legalize sports betting.

What Does the Future Hold for Gambling in Maryland?

Sports betting in Maryland could be legal as early as 2021 as long as the residents vote in favor of the bill. If sports betting is legal, lawmakers can then focus on online gambling laws to make online casino gambling legal. Maryland has been slow to expand the gambling industry, but it appears that they are starting to become more liberal and progressive in passing laws.


Yes, gambling in Maryland is legal, but almost all gambling must be done in-person. The legal gambling age for racing and the lottery is 18 years of age, while casino gambling is set at 21 years of age.

Currently, only online horse race betting and daily fantasy sports are legal in Maryland. This could change in the coming months, but online gambling in Maryland is currently limited.

The state legislature has approved a bill to legalize sports betting in Maryland, including sports betting online. The decision is now up to the voters in the state, with that decision set to be made in November. Lawmakers are confident that the ballot initiative will pass, which will make sports betting legal in Maryland as early as 2021.

Online poker in Maryland is currently not legal, and there haven’t been any attempts to change those laws of late. Playing poker on-site at the casinos in MD is legal, but those casinos do not offer online live poker games.


Jon Young

Jon is a magazine editor and writer with over 15 years’ experience in the gambling industry. He has written articles on everything from video slots and roulette to sports betting, poker, and strategy.

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