Online Poker and Gambling Laws in Maryland
2020 Update: Can I Play Online Poker in Maryland?
There’s no online poker legislation in Maryland yet. The Senate did pass a sports betting bill in early March 2020 though. There are a few more steps left for it to become law though. But, any gaming expansion bodes well for online poker, and what’s more encouraging is that it passed unanimously. The Maryland Senate voted 47-0 on SB 4. The bill legalizes sports betting at live sportsbooks and also allows for online sports betting.
Operators would have to pay 20 percent tax on revenue and the live locations include the state’s six casinos and three race tracks. There are options for more locations, like the Washington Redskins stadium. The bill now has to go to the House. If it’s approved there, which it’s expected to, it’ll go to Gov. Larry Hogan for his signature. Hogan has made pro-sports betting comments before, so his signature is also expected. After that, it would go on the ballot in the 2020 November elections. Then it’s up to the citizens of Maryland to decide if they want legal sports betting.
We’d bet on them wanting to.
Online Poker and the Law in Maryland
Maryland allows for a fair bit of gaming. Slot machines are legal in some counties, they have horse racing and they have six casinos in the state. Gambling is covered under the Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 12, Subtitle 1, Section 1-102. Under the state statute, Maryland defines gambling as:
“Wagering or betting in any manner to receive something of value dependent upon the result of any race, contest or contingency.”
This is an interesting definition that differs from most states. A common definition of gambling for states includes the word “chance.” Here we see that Maryland qualifies betting as something depending on “any race, contest or contingency.” This casts the net pretty wide and could encompass poker, since a lot on the game relies on contingencies. All that means is that poker would be covered in this statute, and is something the legislators would address if they regulate online poker.
You can play live poker at Maryland’s casinos and the casinos would offer sports betting if legalized. This would also include online sports betting. This means the casinos could be open to online poker legislation if it comes up. Maryland’s neighbors are also on the online poker train. Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia have all legalized online poker. The only state that Maryland shares a border with that hasn’t legalised it is Virginia.
Hopefully online poker legislation is contagious and Maryland is the next one to catch the bug.
Can I Play Poker on PokerStars in Maryland?
While Maryland might allow PokerStars in like neighboring Pennsylvania sometime soon, you currently can’t play poker on PokerStars in Maryland. If you don’t want to drive to nearby Pennsylvania or New Jersey to open an account and play, you have some options. There are plenty of great PokerStars alternatives for poker players in Maryland.
We’ve reviewed several sites that accept players from all 50 states, including Maryland. Sites like Ignition Poker and Americas Cardroom guaranteed prize pools, tournament specials and great rakeback that make them pretty good PokerStars alternatives. So if you’re looking to fire up some online poker in Maryland, check out our reviews below to find a site that works for you:
Legal Gambling in Maryland
Lots of gambling in Maryland is ultimately decided by voters. Voters might decide sports betting in 2020, but back in 2012, they expanded gaming too. In 2012 a voters approved one more casino and let existing casinos offer table games.The registered voters approved Question 7 by a 51.9% yes, and 48.1% no.
Maryland’s current casinos are:
- Hollywood Casino Perryville – Maryland’s first gaming facility which opened on September 27, 2010. They feature 1,500 slot machines, a casual restaurant, and parking for 1,600.
- Ocean Downs – Opened on January 4, 2011. They have 34,000 square feet of gaming space and 750 slot machines.
- Maryland Live! – Opened on June 6, 2012. They feature 4,750 slot machines, a live music venue, several restaurants and almost 5,000 parking spaces.
- Rocky Gap Lodge & Resort – Opened on May 23, 2013.
- Horseshoe Baltimore – Opened on August 27, 2014 with 15,000 visitors, 5,000 more than anticipated. However, even with their opening day success, the casino has brought in 34% less revenue ($22.4 million) than predicted in its early stages.
- MGM National Harbor – Opened Dec. 8, 2016. A $1.2 billion development measuring 135,000 sq ft with 308 rooms.
Slot Referendum and a State Lottery
In a 2008 constitutional referendum, voters approved of up to 15,000 video lottery terminals at casinos. The state retains 67% of all revenue generated by the slot machines, among the highest percentage in the United States.
Proceeds of slots are distributed as follows:
- 49.25% – Maryland Education Trust Fund
- 33% – Video lottery terminals facility operators
- 7% – Horse racing purse account (not to exceed $100 million per year)
- 5.5% – Local impact grants
- 1.75% – Race track facilities renewal account (for the first 8 years not to exceed $40 million per year)
- 2% – Maryland Lottery to partially finance the costs of regulation
- 1.5% – Small, minority and women-owned businesses
Maryland has also offered a lottery since 1973. That was passed by a voter amendment too. In 2015 it had a revenue of $1.762 billion and has experienced steady growth since the start. Seems like there’s no gaming expansion voters won’t approve. We hope to see poker on that list soon. We’ll keep you update if it does.
Specific State-by-State Laws
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