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Maryland voters legalize sports betting. Now legislators must pass a law

The referendum is just step one to bringing sports betting to Maryland.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland voters are betting big on sports gambling this election. In a referendum, nearly two-thirds of voters supported legalizing sports betting.

But that referendum — “Question 2” on this election’s ballot — is just step one. Now the Maryland General Assembly must pass a law laying out how sports betting will function in Maryland.

Maryland State Sen. Craig Zucker sponsored a sports betting bill that was tabled when COVID cut the legislative session short. He points to a nonpartisan study, saying sports gambling could raise $20-40 million per year for Maryland’s Education Trust Fund.

D.C. and Virginia have already legalized sports gambling, along with a growing number of states.

“I feel like this is a nonpartisan issue,” Sen. Zucker said. “Hopefully by summer we’ll have sports betting up and running.”

Now, lawmakers will have to draft and pass a bill, outlining, among other things, the criteria for obtaining a sports betting license.

Sen. Zucker said many companies have already expressed interest, including casinos, horse tracks and even the Washington Football Team.

RELATED: Maryland votes to legalize sports betting, passing ballot Question 2

RELATED: From Sports Betting to Budget Control: Gov. Hogan releases views on Maryland ballot questions

Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, MD released a statement, saying in part “the way to maximize new taxes for the Education Trust Fund is to have sports betting controlled by existing, licensed gaming entities in the state. These operators should be required to invest in facilities and systems that ensure it is done right and grows other important gaming taxes for the state …”

State Sen. Cory McCray raised his own concerns about the licensing process — though he supports the bill.

“This is an opportunity where we’re creating a new industry, and we have to make sure we’re equally as intentional when we’re creating this type of wealth,” Sen. McCray said.

McCray said a recent disparity study shows the need for additional measures to ensure African Americans are proportionally represented by the gaming licenses.

McCray said he wants to "make sure Black folks are sitting at the table is very very important to me. So that’ll be my priority when we’re talking about the licensures being handed out.”

Sen. Zucker says they’ll be working to get the bill passed when the Maryland State Assembly reconvenes in January, adding that he has not heard of any clear opposition.

“We’re going to have everybody at the table, and everyone will have their voice heard,” Sen. Zucker said. “We’re going to make sure this is fair and inclusive.”

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