Special session on gambling expansion to consider the option
Another US state may be joining the race toward legalization of online gambling – it’s Maryland which appears to have had a change of heart regarding the pastime, after prosecuting the Bodog brand by seizing its domain and indicting founder Calvin Ayre and three of his execs earlier this year.
An announcement of a possible opinion switch was made by House Speaker Michael Busch, who informed state lawmakers the introduction of online gaming in Maryland will be considered when they gather for a special session at which they will look into a general expansion of gambling.
The move, which aims at keeping the state competitive with neighboring states, will see the legislators consider the licensing and regulation of the pastime, as well as the implications of allowing table games like poker and a new land casino site in Prince George's County.
In his statement, Busch said: "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.
"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 addition, Busch wrote that the overall goal of the special session is to boost the state’s revenues, in order to help pay for education and reduce the state's remaining structural deficit, which currently amounts to around a half a billion dollars.
To make things move faster, a spokeswoman for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley refused to rule out inclusion of Internet gambling in an overall casino expansion bill. It has been specified by Raquel Guillory, O'Malley's communications director: "There have been conversations about it. Nothing is final yet on the bill. It's a work in progress."
If things keep moving towards gambling expansion in Maryland, voter approval in a November ballot will be required.