Gambling companies have spent more than $2 million trying to persuade Maryland voters to approve sports betting as they vote this fall, according to the latest campaign finance reports.
DraftKings and FanDuel, two online betting companies that stand to make money off sports betting, have about $486,000 left of the $2.75 million they’ve put into a group called “Vote Yes on Question 2,” according to a report filed Friday.
Most of that money has gone into TV, radio and online advertising and direct mail campaigns. They’ve also printed yard signs and brochures and conducted polling.
The group’s account was opened in July with $250,000 from DraftKings, and the campaign went public in September. In August and September, DraftKings contributed another $1 million and Fan Duel contributed $1.5 million.
Meanwhile, the state’s casinos and the Maryland Jockey Club have been busy offering free on-site advertising, social media and mailings for a group in favor of sports betting that they’re calling “Fund Our Future.”
The Maryland Jockey Club, the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Hollywood Casino Perryville and Maryland Live! Casino and Hotel contributed a combined $32,300 Fund Our Future. But very little of that cash has been spent, according to their report filed Friday.
Instead, those businesses and other casinos have been making “in-kind” contributions, meaning they are offering work on behalf of the group at no cost.
The Maryland Jockey Club, for example, reported that on Oct. 2 — the day before it hosted the 145th Preakness Stakes horse race in Baltimore — it donated graphic design, in-house advertising, signs along the track, social media posts and website ads to the cause.
In-kind contributions also came from Maryland Live! Casino and Hotel, Hollywood Casino Perryville, Horseshoe Casino Baltimore, Ocean Downs Casino and Rocky Gap Casino and Resort.
All told, the in-kind contributes were valued at more than $33,000.
As surrounding states have legalized betting on sports, Maryland has not expanded its legal gambling industry. High-profile figures in both the sports world and the gambling industry have been maneuvering in Maryland to get a piece of the action, should it be legalized, including Daniel Snyder, owner of Washington’s professional football team, and leaders of Maryland’s horse-racing industry.
Lawmakers ultimately decided to put a broad question to voters this fall, asking only if voters agree with legalizing sports betting. If voters approve, then lawmakers would have to hash out the particulars of who would be eligible for licenses to run sports betting operations.
In discussions earlier this year, lawmakers and pro-betting advocates envisioned both in-person betting and betting apps that would be affiliated with the in-person locations.
Depending on how popular sports betting is and how much of the profits end up going to the government, the state might earn an additional $20 million per year that would likely be directed to public schools.