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A bill that could dramatically change the gambling landscape of the state of Maryland is making waves.

The proposed legislation, known as the iGaming bill, will push for online gambling legalization to be voted on by residents in the November ballot. The move comes as a host of states across the country consider – or embrace – visual changes to the amount of dollars and consumer engagement they stand to gain by legalizing online gambling.

If passed, the iGaming bill will soon allow Maryland residents to vote for the authorization of online gaming, a significant advancement of the vibrant casino industry the state already owns. The bill is seen as a move not only to modernize the Old Line State’s notion of what gambling is, but also to keep it in line with its neighbors – Virginia and Pennsylvania, to name a few – who have begun the process of making every form of their respective gambling industries available to the dreaming and playing, public at home.

And for what could be a pretty persuasive set of reasons. A new study out of Las Vegas-based consultancy The Innovation Group surveying the potential financial impact of letting it ride on iGaming — an independent investigation commissioned by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency — suggests that iGaming could mean an extra $365 million or so for Maryland’s coffers by the year 2029.

According to Howard County Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, that’s nothing if not a good reason to consider a little action — and to make sure it’s heavily regulated, to ensure that revenue remains reliable and on the level further down the line.

Backlash has not been lacking; potential critics of the iGaming bill are numerous, and loud. Casino workers in some of Maryland’s pre-existing land-based casinos are perhaps most concerned — and with reason. Labor unions representing Maryland’s land-based casinos have not been shy about their fears of what the virtualization of gaming could mean — another $365 million for Maryland, or no.

Sources note that opponents of the iGaming bill have argued that online gambling may decrease foot traffic in physical casinos, leading to a loss of jobs and a hit to the local economy. Union leaders have offered examples from other states, such as Pennsylvania, where iGaming has been tied to losses in the brick-and-mortar casino sector.

Proponents of the legislation have countered that the bill is likely to attract a different set of gamblers, meaning more total gambling cash. They’ve also said that the framework would create a secure and regulated environment for online bettors to enjoy. Here too, sources have drawn on the example of other states such as New Jersey, where iGaming has reportedly yielded significant tax revenue and contributed to overall economic growth.

The debate over the bill also reflects the broader dispute over gambling addiction; a problem that some argue could become more acute as states increasingly expand their gaming rosters

If Maryland’s iGaming bill does become law, serious regulatory and support structures will be needed to mitigate and cope with the attendant risks.

The measure is now being studied by a number of committees in both the House and Senate where supporters and opponents are continuing to make their cases for and against to both the legislature and the general public. If lawmakers approve placing the iGaming question on the ballot before September 1, Marylanders would be able to weigh in on just where the Old Line State comes down on the future of internet gambling this November.

The outcomes in Maryland promise to have huge impacts on their state’s gaming industries, state revenues and its position in the ongoing national battle over the legalization and regulation of online gambling.

Ultimately, the decision regarding whether Maryland joins the likes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and others or attempts to hang on to the old way of doing things falls to its citizens, who, along with other Americans are living in a world where gambling is less and less stigmatized with each passing year. On what promises to be an eventful November ballot, there may be no other states outcome more indicative of the future of iGaming in the United States.

Mitchell Lebrun

Mitchell Lebrun is the head of content at EatWatchGamble, working directly with our team of writers to ensure EWG is the ultimate casino resource. Mitchell is an Oregon State grad and avid NBA fan.

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