Since Maryland voters first approved the opening of casinos in 2008, the gaming industry has become a key driver of economic growth. In 2019, Maryland’s six casinos supported nearly $1 billion in tax revenue, 15,364 jobs and $2.96 billion in economic impact. Casino gaming taxes generated a record $545 million for the state education trust fund — a “lockbox” that guarantees a significant chunk of gaming taxes are solely dedicated to funding public schools.
Legalizing sports betting would open a new revenue source for a state budget currently under pressure from temporary business closures and economic uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to a recent NPR report, Maryland experienced a $925 million drop in tax revenue — creating a budget crisis Gov. Larry Hogan called, “three times worse than the Great Recession.” Keeping public schools fully funded is a huge challenge in this environment. But according to Governor Hogan, Question 2 will provide a “critical revenue source for public education” and ensures Maryland’s K-12 schools can be funded at record levels “for years to come.”
Legalizing sports betting in Maryland would also strike a blow against illegal, offshore betting sites that are completely unregulated, offer no protection to consumers and generate zero tax dollars. This is one reason states have actively embraced legal sports betting since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban in 2018. In just two years, 21 states and the District of Columbia have joined Nevada to offer legal, regulated sports betting markets. Americans have wagered nearly $28 billion on sporting events generating more than $245 million in tax revenue.
On all these accounts, legalizing sports betting this November 3 will be a win for Maryland. Now it’s up to voters to decide.
Bill Miller, Bethesda
The writer is president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, a national trade group representing the U.S. casino gaming industry.