Friday August 3,2012 : MARYLAND TO RECONSIDER POSITION ON INTERNET GAMBLING
Lawmakers to study the online option in special session on gambling expansion
The state of Maryland could be in line for a radical change to its formerly hostile policy on internet gambling, according to reports on CBS and the Baltimore Sun Thursday.
Such a volte-face would be a truly ironic development in a state that earlier this year prosecuted the Bodog brand by seizing its domain and indicting founder Calvin Ayre and three of his execs, and last year pursued payment processors involved with BetEd .
The change of heart was heralded this week by House Speaker Michael Busch, who notified state lawmakers that the possibility of developing Internet games in Maryland will be considered when they gather for a special session next Thursday to study a general expansion of gambling in order to remain competitive with neighbouring states.
Along with the licensing and regulation of online gambling, state legislators will consider the implications of allowing table games like poker and a new land casino site in Prince George's County.
"Since the voters overwhelmingly approved the establishment of a Maryland gaming program in 2008, every surrounding state with a gaming program has expanded to include table games and, in some cases, other forms of gambling," the Speaker wrote in a brief to fellow lawmakers.
"In order to maintain a healthy and competitive gaming program that attracts players from beyond Maryland's borders and keeps Maryland gamers at home, we must put our gaming program on par with other jurisdictions in the Mid-Atlantic."
In a separate development Thursday, a spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley gave the proposal a more momentum when she refused to rule out inclusion of Internet gambling in an overall casino expansion bill.
"There have been conversations about it," said Raquel Guillory, O'Malley's communications director. "Nothing is final yet on the bill. It's a work in progress."
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed a measure authorising online betting in that state in June this year, along with online slot machine gambling and table games, as well as expanding keno beyond Delaware's three land casinos to at least 100 other sites.
Speaker Busch wrote that the overall goal of the special session must be to generate new revenue for the state in order to help pay for education and knock down the state's remaining structural deficit – currently around a half a billion dollars.
Gambling expansion in Maryland would require voter approval in a November ballot.