Maryland, Virginia, DC Debate Sports Betting Legalization

DC Sportsbook Kiosks - Maryland Sports Betting - Virginia Bookmaker Bets

The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town, Virginia has reported sterling success in its few weeks of operation.

The states of Maryland and Virginia are debating sports betting legalization. The District of Columbia’s city council is doing the same. All three have seen the effect of sports betting in nearby Delaware and West Virginia. The West Virginia Lottery announced that gamblers wagered more than $9.5 million in the 5 weeks since single-game sports bets were legalized.

Those number are impressive, but they are expected to grow as sportsbooks build customer databases and more potential bettors learn they can gamble legally on their favorite sporting events.

As operators are quick to point out, West Virginia’s sports betting industry is in its startup phase. The 10% tax rate on sportsbook winnnings means the state government will collect hundreds of millions in taxes over the coming years.

Some of that revenue already comes from Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Residents in those areas have crossed state lines to make bets on NFL games. Others have expressed excitement about betting on the NCAA, NBA, or MLB if Maryland casinos launch sportsbooks. Thus, lawmakers in nearby jurisdictions are considering legalization of sports betting.

Hollywood Casino Sportsbook

Hollywood Casino in Ranson/Charles Town, West Virginia opened a sportsbook a few weeks ago. Erich Zimny, VP of Racing and Sports Operations for Hollywood Casino, said the operation has been a big success in its early days.

According to Zimny, the sheer number of wagering options has attracted customers. Zimny said, “We offer a wide range of wagering on sports. Everything from the NFL to professional darts, if there is a tournament that catches someone’s eye.”

October’s Sports Betting Opportunities

This is the busy time of the year, of course. Even in a state with no National Football League teams, NFL betting is the biggest driver of betting interest all year. In many ways, October is the best time of the year for sports bettors and bookmaker operations alike: it’s the rare time that the four major US sports are in action.

The NFL is nearing the middle part of its regular season. Major League Baseball is about to start the World Series. The NHL began play at the beginning of October, while the NBA regular season launched this week. No other time of the year has all four sports active.

Add in NCAA football betting and West Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey sportsbooks are humming along. After reports of many DC area gamblers visiting Delaware sportsbooks, DC city councilman Jacks Evans introduced a bill to legalize sports betting in Washington D.C.

Washington DC Sports Betting Kiosks

Evans, who represents Ward 2 in the District of Columbia, hopes to legalize gambling in DC by early April. When asked by a local news channel when he believed a sports betting law might be in place, the councilman said, “Knock on wood, [if] everything goes according to plan, it could be by [Major League Baseball] Opening Day.”

Washington has no casinos, but Jack Evans plans on a law which would allow for sports betting kiosks in sports stadiums around the city. When asked where gamblers might place a legal bet, Evans replied, “Nats Park, Capital One Arena, Audi stadium, Wizards practice facility, places like that. And then I could see different variables. Hotels have already expressed enormous interest.”

2020 Maryland Sportsbook Referendum

Maryland lawmakers are playing the long game. A bid to pass sports betting legislation in the Maryland General Assembly failed earlier this year. Proponents of legal sports betting at casinos like MGM National Harbor and Maryland Live! Casino now back a 2020 referendum on legal sports betting.

Gov. Larry Hogan backs the proposition, which is still in its early stages. Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, a spokesman for Governor Hogan, said, “Legalizing sports betting in Maryland will require action by the General Assembly and ultimately a referendum on the ballot. The governor has previously expressed support for the rights of states to make this determination and we anticipate this issue will be debated in the next legislative session.”

Virginia Sports Betting Laws

Virginia’s lawmakers have noticed the buzz about their state’s gamblers crossing state lines to bet on sports. As more Virginians visit West Virginia for a legal sports wager, State Rep. Marcus Simon decided to introduce a bill that would legalize sports bettin gin his state.

Marcus noted the prospect of Maryland sports betting drives his idea as much as West Virginia sportsbooks. He said, “I think there will be some appetite for this. I think there is certainly a revenue opportunity in Virginia. We already see a lot of our residents’ dollars go across the river to the MGM casino and we lose out on a lot of opportunities to capture some of that revenue.”

Though Virginia has no land-based casinos, Peters believes horse racing tracks are the natural site for Virginia sportsbooks. The legislator said, “I think you can probably find a way to combine sportsbooks with the existing horse racing and off-track betting that exists. And there is probably a way to facilitate online sports gaming as well.”