Casino operators and lawmakers in the state of Maryland have urged the state legislature to push through legislation allowing for the legalisation of sports betting in the state, should the New Jersey appeal succeed in overthrowing the authority of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Earlier this week the US Supreme Court confirmed that it would hear appeal arguments against the constitutional validity of PASPA from representatives from the state of New Jersey and the Thoroughbred horseman’s association on the 4 December.
With a decision expected sometime next year, the owners of the three largest casinos in the state: Maryland Live!, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, and MGM National Harbour have called upon state legislators to move forward with sports betting or risk being left behind.
Joe Weinberg, head of the company that operates Maryland Live Casino & Hotel in Anne Arundel County told the Baltimore Sun Newspaper that: “If we wait for 100% clarity on federal law, we will be two to three years behind the surrounding states.”
The American Gaming Association has also been active in lobbying efforts in the state, with AGA Senior Vice President of public affairs Sara Slane recently addressing the Maryland General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Gaming Oversight to champion the benefits of sports betting legalisation.
In comments reported by the Baltimore Business Journal, Slane said: “Right now, there’s more momentum for repealing [PASPA] than ever before.
“I would urge you and other legislators to get out in front of this, because when it does happen you’re going to have states ready to go in first position…to open up sports books.”
Earlier in the year house Bill 0989 was introduced proposing the establishment of a task force to study the ”Implementation of Sports Gaming in the State to monitor federal law, study sports gaming in other states, and make recommendations regarding implementation of sports gaming in the State”.
Figures published with the text of the bill estimate that Maryland’s gaming revenues could grow up to 6.5% annually if the states six casinos could operate sportsbooks, however the bill failed to make it past committee stage and no study was implemented.