Maryland Is 50/50 To Legalize Online Casino In 2024, Analyst Says

mobile phone roulette

What are the odds of any individual state legalizing mobile casinos in 2024? At the high end, probably about as good — or bad — as an expertly played shoe of blackjack.

“My optimism for even the best-chance state to legalize in 2024 currently tops out at about 50 percent,” said Becca Giden, the director of policy for Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, a consulting firm in the gambling industry. “It’s just plain difficult generally, but it’s been especially tough in the last two-ish years.”

But if there’s one state that’s sitting with a 17 to the dealer’s 7, it’s Maryland.

“I would comfortably seat Maryland there,” she said. “Maryland ticks a lot of our ‘momentum-increasing characteristics’ boxes.”

Three boxes

Giden says there are three boxes to tick, and the first of them is having in place a retail casino market that is made up mostly of national brands.

“Among casino brands, regionally and locally owned brands tend to support online casino legalization less than nationally owned brands,” Giden noted.

Maryland has six brick-and-mortar casinos, including one owned by PENN Entertainment and one by MGM.

The second box is a political and constituent show of support in expanding online gambling, and Giden simply points to 2020’s sports betting expansion in the state as evidence.

The third box is a demonstrated lack of a prominent presence of stakeholders against the idea, namely distributed gaming operators (for example, video gaming terminals) and anti-gambling groups.

Rush Street bullish

Giden’s relative optimism for Maryland jibes with recent comments by Rush Street Interactive CEO Richard Schwartz during the company’s Q2 earnings call. He discussed how the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Commission will be submitting an iCasino study to the state legislature before the end of 2023.

And these studies almost always come back with a green light, Giden said.

“I’ve only seen a few of these ‘a proposal to expand gambling’ studies, and I have yet to see one that says ‘don’t bother,’” Giden said.

Furthermore, Schwartz told the investing world during the earnings call that an important member of the Maryland Legislature is fully on board.

“Notably, a prominent legislative member in the state has expressed optimism about the potential for passage of an iGaming bill when the legislature reconvenes in January,” Schwartz said. “In his remarks, the legislator emphasized the state’s need for new revenue streams and recognized the significance that online casino could represent as a valuable third leg of the stool along with existing online sports betting and traditional land-based casino markets.”

Schwartz also expressed some early confidence about 2024 movement in other states. He suggested Ohio’s legislature is gearing up to study the issue, and that New York, Illinois, and Indiana all made progress in this year’s legislative session.

One state not mentioned by Schwartz but that has popped up on Giden’s radar is Louisiana.

“I recently heard some chatter that Louisiana may propose a bill for the first time next year,” she said, “but that state strikes me as a multi-session endeavor, so if there is a bill, I expect it to be more of a conversation starter than a legalization vehicle.”

As for Maryland? The online casino study, which is being done by The Innovation Group, is scheduled to be delivered to the Maryland Lottery by Nov. 15.

Photo: Getty Images

Author: Peter Griffin