Home Safely Open for Business What is the state of Maryland’s current sports betting legislation?

What is the state of Maryland’s current sports betting legislation?


Residents of Ocean City, New Jersey will be well aware that they are not the only Ocean City around. There is Ocean City, Maryland reasonably close by – some 70 miles away. While the names of the two cities may be the same, they are very different places.

The New Jersey version, for example, does not allow the sale of liquor and is often seen as being more family oriented. There is also a range of superb amenities in Ocean City, NJ – from the Ocean City Library to Flanders Hotel. Ocean City, NJ tends to have more year-round residents, while the Maryland version usually attracts more tourists per year and gives visitors free access to its beaches.

Many residents from the New Jersey location holiday in Maryland to enjoy a break from their normal routine. Of course, one popular pastime that New Jersey residents have been able to enjoy since 2018 is online sports betting. This raises one big question before next checking out Ocean City, Maryland – what is the current legislation in Maryland around sports betting.

Sports betting in Maryland not legal yet

Unlike New Jersey, it is not yet legal to bet on sports in Maryland. This is despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2018 around gambling on sports. If you enjoy sports betting, this is a big difference from Ocean City, NJ and something you should think about before visiting.

The current state of affairs is a source of frustration for those in Ocean City, MD and around Maryland in general. With much of the USA moving towards allowing sports betting, Maryland faces being left behind if they do not act quickly. The latest situation is that Maryland residents will have to wait until  November 30, 2020 to see if Senate Bill 58 is passed into state law, before being able to vote on it. If this does happen and the public vote backs it, people there will be allowed to bet on sports legally.

Recent history in Maryland not promising

While the fact that Senate Bill 58 is up for discussion is promising, it looks likely to be less than plain sailing to get it over the line. There are still a number of steps and obstacles that remain in place before the bill can make it into state law. A look back at recent history around sports betting changes in Maryland shows this to be true.

February 2018 saw Maryland House Bill 989 being introduced in the state. This allowed a task force to be brought together, which could oversee the best way to implement sports betting within state borders. This looked very encouraging and likely to pave the way for Maryland to make sports betting legal in the near future. However, this piece of legislation did not work out as planned and gambling on sports has not yet been introduced. Could the same happen even if this latest bill is passed and voted on?

What might this mean for Maryland?

The consequences of this latest bill on sports betting not being passed could be disastrous for Maryland. Firstly, it will not go down well with residents who see states in their region (like New Jersey) betting on sports. This will create a real sense of injustice and could see people leave Maryland to settle in neighboring states, where sports betting is legal. Sports betting could also be a valuable source of additional income for the state authorities – losing out on this could really hit future plans for public investment.

Of course, any ongoing delay will also hit tourism. While tourist figures for places such as Ocean City in Maryland are still decent, not being able to bet on sports could see it lose out in the long term to rival states. However, many think that with the history Maryland has around sports and gambling, along with the public backing for legal sports betting that seems prevalent, the law will change sooner or later.

End November 2020 is the big day for Maryland sports betting

As already noted, voters in the state will have to wait until November 2020 to see if sports betting is finally made accessible to them. If the state legislature is approved first and then the public vote is in favor, we could see legal sports betting in Maryland as from the end of that month. If not, however, it will be back to the drawing board for politicians and residents. Of course, those who live in Ocean City, NJ can simply watch events unfolding, safe in the knowledge that they can already legally enjoy sports betting.