HomeMaryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency

Ensuring consumer protection and fair play while gambling is fundamental to the success of the industry. In Maryland, the task of doing exactly that falls on the shoulders of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA). 

In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at the functions of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency, as well as what forms of gambling the agency oversees and the legal backbone the MLGCA possesses.

What is the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency?

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency is a regulatory organization that oversees the state’s casinos, sports betting, and lottery operations.

Among other duties, the agency issues gambling licenses, monitors slot machines and their owners to ensure games are compliant with fair play standards, audits gambling operators, and ensures state revenues collected from gambling operations are distributed to worthy causes in Maryland (such as education, public safety, gambling addiction resources, public health, and the environment).

The MLGCA was formed in 1972 after its creation was approved by Maryland residents through a constitutional amendment, and it began operations in 1973. The first lottery game, Twin Win, went on sale on May 15 of that year with the first drawing held on May 24.

In 2008, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), an advisory board to the MLGCA, took on the task of overseeing Maryland’s casino operations; in 2021, sports betting fell under the Commission’s jurisdiction as well.

What forms of gambling does the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency regulate?

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency regulates most forms of gambling in Maryland, including:

  • State lottery games (like scratch-offs, Multi-Match, Pick 5, and keno)
  • Interstate lottery games (such as Mega Millions, Powerball, and Cash4Life)
  • Fast-play instant games
  • Daily fantasy sports
  • MD online sports betting
  • In-person/retail sports betting
  • Slot machines
  • Casino table games

Does the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency regulate online casino gaming?

No, the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency does not regulate online casino gaming in Maryland. This is because real-money online casino gambling is illegal under MD law. However, the MLGCA could oversee Maryland online casino operations once the practice is legalized.

According to a poll we ran in November 2023, 75% of Maryland voters are in favor of online casino legalization. As of March 1, 2024, several bills are in place in both the state house and senate related to iGaming expansion, though it is unclear whether there is enough legislative momentum to bring the issue to the 2024 ballot for a constitutional amendment.

How can one apply for a gambling license in Maryland?

According to the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission, “an individual requires a Principal Employee License if they own, control or manage a licensee or otherwise exercise control over a gaming or sports wagering function of a licensee.” A principal employee license is different from a license for gaming/wagering employees.

Those who are applying for a principal employee license must submit a formal application to the MLGCC. This application will require an initial application fee of $2,500, an initial license fee of $750, a $2,000 background investigation deposit, and a fingerprint processing fee of $37.25 (totaling $5,287,25). If approved, the license is good for five years, after which time the cost of renewal is $2,787.25).

If you are instead applying for licensure as an employee at a casino, sports wagering operator, or bingo hall, you must pay the $250 application fee, $150 initial licensing fee, and $37.25 fingerprinting fee (totaling $437.50). This license is also valid for five years, after which time renewal has a $187.25 cost.

Applications can be found at https://www.mdgaming.com/licensing/.

How does the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency ensure responsible gambling practices?

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency ensures responsible gambling practices from betting operators by frequently conducting audits to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and other guidelines established by the agency. This includes conducting background checks of all employees and operators, and publishing annual reports of operator statuses.

Annual reports date back to 2010, if you are looking for extra peace of mind that your gaming destination is safe and legitimate.

While personal discipline and accountability are necessary for responsible gambling practices at gambling facilities, online, and through mobile apps, the MLGCA also provides information about responsible gambling as well as maintaining a voluntary self-exclusion program. This program is particularly useful for those who have a gambling addiction and should not be participating in betting activities.

What are the penalties for violating gaming regulations in Maryland?

The penalties for violating gaming regulations in Maryland depend on the nature of the violation and whether it is an individual or a gambling operator committing the offense. For example, in 2023, Crab Sports was found to have committed a violation for “not maintaining players’ deposited funds in the correct account,” and paid the Maryland Lottery a $5,000 fan after rectifying the issue; FanDuel and DraftKings also paid fines to the Lottery for other violations.

Individuals who gamble or attempt to gamble while underage can be subject to fines and driver’s license suspension, while those who are cheating or running illegal books could be subject to imprisonment.

How does the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency contribute to the state's economy?

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency contributes to the state’s economy by collecting taxes and fines from gambling operators and individuals and distributing those funds to worthwhile causes. According to CBS, the MLGCA contributed $1.5 billion to the state’s economy in Fiscal Year 2022.

Approximately 60% of lottery money is disbursed in prize money, while 25% goes to the Maryland General Fund to invest in the state’s education, environment, and public health and safety interests. For Fiscal Year 2023, some of the beneficiaries of MLGCA funds were the Education Trust Fund ($622.7M), Maryland’s Small, Minority, and Woman-Owned Business Fund ($19.9M), and responsible gaming programs ($4.5M).