Maryland Pursues Referendum To Vote Out Of Gambling Plans

Maryland legislators are pursuing a statewide referendum on whether to remove the need for statewide ballots on potential legislation to allow gambling expansion in the future.

On Tuesday, the state Senate of Maryland voted 46-1 in favour of a constitutional amendment calling on state voters to change the constitution’s provision to bring forward plans for gambling expansion to a statewide vote. The bill is now headed for further consideration to the State House of Representatives.

In 2008, voters from Maryland passed a legislative package that would legalise casino gambling in the state, thereby amending the constitution to allow any future plans to expand gambling to be put to a referendum. Interestingly, state voters will need to support the new amendment to remove their power to reject future expansion of gambling.

Maryland is not alone, many U.S. states are considering adding legal sports betting to their gambling options, partly because of the threats from Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to move the team from their current home at FedEx Field in Landover unless he gets approval to feature betting windows at a new stadium that he wants to build on the current stadium’s site.

The six casinos of the State have made no secret of their willingness to add betting to their gambling mix, although they are less crazy about sharing betting rights with state racetracks and off-track betting parlours. Throw in a pugnacious NFL owner scratching around for public funds to build his new sporting venue and it is anybody’s idea how a betting-related referendum will play out.

Meanwhile, in January, Maryland’s casinos generated revenue just below $145.5 m, up 6.2 percent from last year’s same month but about $3.6 m below the take in December 2019. As expected, the National Harbor location of MGM Resorts led the honour list for January with $58.5 m, while the annual runner-up Live! Casino & Hotel retained the $51.75 m (+ 11.8 percent) number-two slot.

Horseshoe Casino Baltimore’s Caesars Entertainment ranked third with $19.3 m, down 4.4 percent year-on-year and the only casino to post negative growth in January. Hollywood Casino Perryville posted the biggest increase of the month, up 12.1 percent to $6.1 million, while Ocean Downs Casino gained 11 percent to $5.35 million and Rocky Gap rose 10.5 percent to $4.44 million.