HomeMaryland Sports Betting NewsAnother Maryland Gambling Expansion Idea is Floated

Another Maryland Gambling Expansion Idea is Floated

Paying for a lottery ticket via credit card is so potentially harmful to a consumer’s finances that about half of U.S. states don't even allow it. Exceptions include Arizona, California, Illinois, Ohio, and New York.

Image: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Aside from the fact that the use of the credit card implies that the consumer may be spending money they don’t have, many credit card companies in states that allow the practice process that transaction as a cash advance. That means significant fees and interest that begin accruing immediately.

But some officials in Maryland – which does not allow for lottery tickets to be paid for via credit card but does allow it for other types of Maryland online gambling like sports betting – want another authorization to be made for local fire companies that feature online raffles as a method of non-profit fundraising.

In fact, the Frederick County Council recently has formally endorsed the idea, subject to the endorsement of the Frederick County Delegation as part of its 2024 legislative package.

At a county council hearing earlier this month, Jim Graham, the president of the Walkersville Volunteer Fire Department, spoke in favor of the idea.

“I think it’s a great deal,” said Graham. “It doesn’t cost anybody anything to do this. We really need your help to move this forward. And I am hoping you all can support that.”

The town’s volunteer fire department, Graham said, suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic because the department could not hold its usual in-person fundraising events – nor could it rent out its fire hall on occasion as another revenue enhancer.

Graham told the council that when he looked into offering some sort of online gaming as an alternative fundraiser, he was told that was illegal.

Credit Card Usage for Gambling Already Exists in Maryland

That struck Graham as odd, he said, “you can use your credit card at FanDuel, DraftKings, and other things. So why can’t non-profit organizations in Frederick County, or the state of Maryland, be able to accept credit cards for an online gaming event?”

“The idea is that this is going to benefit any non-profit organization – not only fire companies but churches, boys clubs, girls clubs, fraternal organizations.”

County approval would lead to a forwarding of the proposal to the statewide General Assembly.

All but two of Maryland’s 23 counties permit charitable gaming as long as the organization registers with the Secretary of State’s Charitable Organization Division. Bingo, raffles, so-called ‘wheels of fortune,’ and tip jars are among the fundraising options.

In the United Kingdom, the use of credit cards for online sports betting was banned in 2020. The ban came following a 2019 study by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission that found “22% of online gamblers using credit cards [were] problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.”

Online Casino Legalization Also on the Docket in Maryland

It’s not clear if a much larger parallel effort to authorize online casinos in Maryland – already permitted in nearby Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey – will help or hurt the cause of the Frederick County games of chance proposal.

The Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency has commissioned The Innovation Group to conduct a study examining the potential pros and cons of adding online casino gaming, with a Nov. 15, 2023 deadline.

The results of that study could be crucial in swaying on-the-fence state lawmakers for or against the idea. Those same lawmakers were cautious about sports betting legalization, which is why the first bets weren’t taken until Nov. 2022 – about four years behind those nearby states.

A favorable result would lead to the placing of a referendum on the Nov. 2024 ballot and, thereby, a launch likely sometime in 2025. The state Comptroller’s Office has forecast that nearly $100 million in annual taxes could be raised for the Maryland Trust Fund starting in 2028 once consumer awareness of the new gambling option grows.

The study’s main focuses, per the direction of the gaming agency, are: the expected market size; impact on retail casino locations and the state lottery; whether the level of problem gambling in the state likely would rise; and an analysis of results from the six states that currently offer legal online casinos.

In Maryland, counties regulate charitable gaming, and 21 of 23 counties allow it. A qualified organization is any organization that has registered with the Charitable Organization Division with the Secretary of State.

Earlier in 2023, an online casino gaming bill was introduced by state Senators Ron Watson and Nancy King that would authorize the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency to issue iGaming operations licenses.

A $500,000 fee would come with a license to cover a span of five years. After that, an annual renewal fee would equal 1% of the operator’s revenue for that year. The tax would be an industry-typical 15% on gross gaming revenue.

In the bill, Watson and King offered the specific language that would be on the statewide ballot: “Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize Internet gaming for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?”

One of the reasons that the bill fell short is that the Maryland legislative calendar is so brief that the annual session ends in April – with March being the month that most bills need to be advanced to have a chance for a vote. Too many more pressing issues caught lawmakers’ attention instead.

A historic resistance by retail casinos to an online legalization version largely has been overcome by the fact that most of those casinos have a mobile sports betting partner such as DraftKings, FanDuel, or BetMGM.

Those operators also offer online casino play in states where it is legal and would be eager to see the same pattern emerge in Maryland as well.

For more news on online sports betting in Maryland, along with other forms of gambling in the state, check us out at MD Betting.