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Upping the Ante: Maryland Sports Wagering is Coming to a Ballot Near You

While the world was focused on COVID-19, the Maryland legislature passed legislation that will place a referendum on sports wagering on the November 2020 ballots.  The issue will be presented as:

“Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

Senate Bill 4 (SB4) is a significantly reduced version of prior drafts considered earlier this year. Instead of the more than 20-pages of detailed legislation (which can be seen in the stricken portions of SB4), the Bill punts legislation on “the operation, regulation, and disposition of proceeds of sports and event wagering in” Maryland until after resolution of the referendum.

SB4 also seeks further input be provided on whether the State Minority Business Enterprise Program or a similar program should be applied to assist minorities and women-owned businesses if the sports betting referendum obtains public approval.

After a 30-day veto period, the Bill became law on May 8, 2020, without Governor Hogan’s signature.

The Bill itself does not provide much guidance on what Maryland sports and event wagering may look like. While it is likely the former versions of the Bill are reliable indicators of what future legislation will look like, details are likely to change. With Maryland’s tense history on gambling and the use of funds from Maryland’s casinos, the passage of the referendum is not guaranteed.


Mr. Emrick is an attorney in the commercial litigation practice group. After more than 10 years of providing litigation representation, his clients can count on holistic legal advice and adept representation to help individuals and their businesses manage their risks, both in and out of the courtroom. As an advocate of preemptive risk management and alternative dispute resolution, like mediation, his clients can be comfortable knowing that he is focused on ensuring that they get the most cost-effective and client-centric representation for their needs. He believes the best representation comes from a combination of rigorous preparation, client-focused service, and fearlessness.


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Author: Gregory Emrick, Esq.
Articles have been Reprinted with permission from the charlotte observer and Mike Hunter.

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