At this point, Maryland has not legalized online casinos. Maryland provided the first surprise of 2023 for those interested in online casinos. The introduction of SB 267 marked the first time in state history that lawmakers prepared to pursue online casino legalization in the state.
Now, as exciting as the news is, it must be tempered with some reality. The truth is that there are years to go before Marylanders get the chance to bet online.
Even with the assumption that the bill passes, online casinos would require approval from Maryland voters to become legal. That vote would come no sooner than 2024. However, there’s no doubt that things are starting to move.
With that said, the only legal online casino options you can pursue are the sweepstakes casinos and social casinos mentioned in the table above. There are several sweepstakes sites and social casinos online that offer slots, table games, and interactive poker to those who log on.
What legal gambling options are there in Maryland?
Online sportsbooks have arrived in Maryland, so avid sports fans and newcomers alike can start placing bets on games from the comfort of their own home or on the road.
Additionally, playing daily fantasy sports is legal in Maryland. In fact, from a purely legal standpoint, DFS has been legal in Maryland since 2012. Thanks to Maryland House Bill 7 (2012), all fantasy sports (including DFS) were officially exempted from the definition of gambling under Maryland law. You can play DFS at any number of major sites, including DraftKings and FanDuel.
Another option for a type of online gambling in Maryland is horse betting. Maryland is one of the majority of states in the US that allows its residents to place pari-mutuel bets via the internet on horse races around the country. You will find plenty of options to bet on horse racing through your phone or laptop including TVG.
As for playing online slots or poker, there are currently now legal real-money options in Maryland. The best option for people who want to play online poker in Maryland is Global Poker. Global Poker, like its sister sites Chumba and LuckyLand, is a sweepstakes site that offers cash poker prizes for free. Global Poker is functionally identical to any poker site you could find in a state that allows real money online poker.
Type of Gambling
Is it Legal?
Real Money Online Casinos
Online Sports Betting
Retail Sports Betting
Will Maryland make online casinos legal in the future?
Almost certainly. In some regards, Maryland already regulates online gambling. As we mentioned, if you’re talking about any type of gambling whatsoever, you already have the option to bet on sports, horse races and play DFS online in Maryland right now. Both types of gambling are legal. However, if you mean online casinos or poker, then the answer is a bit trickier.
Now, making something legal doesn’t always wish it into existence, especially if it creates a new industry out of thin air. The Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency will have to create regulations to license and manage any online gambling in the state, and that process takes, at minimum, a month or two.
As for the best online casinos and online poker rooms, there’s reason for hope. We have reason to believe that Maryland has a 30% chance of passing online casino legalization in 2024. It’s still less likely to happen, but no other state has better chances of moving forward than the Old Line State.
Below is a table of likely operators and online casino brands based upon the companies that already have a foothold in the state.
Horseshoe Casino Baltimore
Caesars, 888, WSOP
Penn National Gaming
Hollywood Casino Perryville
Rocky Gap Casino Resort
MGM Resorts International
MGM National Harbor
Maryland Live! Casino
Who regulates online gambling in Maryland?
Online casino gambling is not legal in Maryland yet, but the regulator will almost certainly be the Maryland State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency. Although it’s conceivable that the Maryland Racing Commission could be the regulator, it doesn’t make much sense.
Legal online casinos vs. offshore gambling sites
If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen us describe online gambling as not legal in Maryland. And yet, there are online casinos accepting Maryland players right now. However, these casinos are based offshore. What’s the difference?
In a nutshell, Maryland doesn’t license or operate any online gambling site. Sweepstakes sites are the only option for online gambling. The sites that do let Maryland players play slots for real money are offshore. Offshore sites exist outside the purview of both Maryland and US gambling laws. As such, they do not operate under the same standards or level of oversight as a regulated site. Gambling on an offshore site comes with several risks:
Regulation: Any site operating outside the US may claim it is licensed. However, it’s unclear what type of authority the offshore agencies have on the sites.
Trust and reliability: Another problem is the fact that you cannot really be sure about the legitimacy of the sites themselves. It boils down to wondering,”Is your money safe?” You have no way to know who actually owns the sites in question and what their track record is. Payment problems are common at a lot of offshore online gambling sites.
Safety: Hand in hand with trusting the site is knowing that your sensitive information is safe. Even if you find a site that operates honorably and with US-style business practices, you cannot be certain that your information is completely secure. Your personal information and banking information are stored on the site, and it is absolutely vital that the sites have solid security measures.
The best thing to do is stick to the legal options in the state of Maryland.
How old do you have to be to gamble in Maryland?
The legal gambling age for casino gambling in Maryland is 21. However, as is often the case, players must only be 18 in order to play lottery games, play bingo, or wager on horse races.
Retail casinos in Maryland
Maryland is home to six casinos. Maryland citizens voted to authorize the placement of slot-like machines in the state in 2008, then voted to expand to table games in 2012. Here are the casinos in Maryland along with all other in-person gambling locations including racetracks and OTBs:
With casinos representing companies like MGM and Penn National, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of games to play at Maryland casinos. For the sake of simplicity, we’re listing slots as one of the games, even though they’re VLTs. The technicality isn’t worth the trouble of explaining once again.
Blackjack with various side bets
Fortune Pai Gow Poker
Three Card Poker
Four Card Poker
Ultimate Texas Hold’em
Let It Ride
Criss Cross Poker
Chase the Flush
Pari-mutuel betting on simulcast races
Sports betting (on the way)
Horse racing in Maryland
Pimlico is one of six horse racing facilities in Maryland. Four venues are thoroughbred tracks, while the remaining two offer harness races. Maryland’s six tracks are as follows:
Fair Hill Races (thoroughbred)
Laurel Park (thoroughbred)
Ocean Downs (harness)
Pimlico Race Course (thoroughbred)
Rosecroft Raceway (harness)
Timonium Race Course (thoroughbred)
Pari-mutuel wagering is available at all six racetracks. In addition, both Pimlico and Timonium serve as off-track betting locations when there is no live racing available. Ocean Downs is the only true racino of the bunch and is also one of the six casino locations in Maryland.
Three of the other casinos in the state house off-track betting parlors as well. You can place wagers on simulcast racing at Hollywood Casino Perryville, Horseshoe Baltimore, and MGM National Harbor. Maryland also has three standalone OTBs — Greenmount Station in Hampstead, Long Shot’s in Frederick, and Riverboat on the Potomac in Colonial Beach.
Like a majority of states, Maryland allows its inhabitants to wager on horse races online, too. Although there are several major horse betting sites available in Maryland, TVG is likely the best option. No other site offers nearly the level of service as TVG. In addition to its comprehensive betting options, it also has a wealth of resources that you can use to educate yourself and inform your handicapping. Best of all, TVG is a 24-hour broadcast network dedicated to horse betting — the only one of its kind in the US. At any time, day or night, you can log into TVG and pick up meaningful and useful tips about races around the country.
Responsible gambling in Maryland
As triumphant as Maryland’s return to gambling in the last few years has been, it has come with an unfortunate cost. Like any other place with gambling, Maryland is home to problem gamblers. Thankfully, Maryland has plenty of dedicated resources to help gambling addicts get on the road to recovery.
There are numerous online resources to explore if you are wondering if you have a problem. And regardless of whether you are worried or merely curious, it’s good to know what options are available in Maryland. Here are the things you can do if you or someone you love might be hurting:
Maryland Alliance for Responsible Gambling: This organization is a coalition of several state agencies in Maryland, which combine their forces. The alliance website includes a comprehensive list of recovery counselors in the state, and gambling therapy is available at no cost to Maryland residents, regardless of their insurance or financial status. In addition, the alliance maintains a 24/7 helpline, 1-800-GAMBLER, which can connect problem gamblers or their families with trained counselors who can provide resources and assistance. Finally, because the alliance is a state government agency coalition, it is also possible to access the Maryland Voluntary Exclusion Program here.
The Maryland Center of Excellence on Problem Gambling: This program, which is a division of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is another consolidated resource for problem gambling in the Old Line State. You can find quizzes, resources for people in all phases of life (teens, adults, parents, seniors, and co-workers), support group information, and connections for therapy providers in the state. The Maryland Council on Problem Gambling also functions in association with this program. Finally, in addition to links for 1-800-GAMBLER, the center also maintains its own helpline at 1-677-214-2120.
Maryland’s voluntary exclusion program
You can also reach out to the support group Gamblers Anonymous. Chapters of GA meet weekly (or more often) all over Maryland, and there’s usually a meeting near your home or office. Family members who are dealing with a gambling-addicted loved one have their own support group, GAM-ANON.
Finally, the state of Maryland offers a voluntary exclusion program for those who recognize that, regardless of any other interventions, they simply cannot stop gambling. Those who find themselves in that position can file an application with the state to prevent them from entering any gambling venue in the state lawfully. If you’re in the program and still gamble, you can find yourself subject to a criminal citation, fined and potentially jailed. Once on the list, you cannot remove yourself for at least two years, and a state therapist will have to pronounce you fit and healthy before your application for removal will be approved. In some cases, placement in the program is permanent.
It is unlikely that Maryland comes to mind when most people think about gambling. The Old Line State is more traditionally associated with crab cakes, the Chesapeake Bay and the US Naval Academy. Sharper-minded folk might think about the Preakness Stakes. However, Maryland has both a wealth of options for today’s inhabitants and a unique history when it comes to wagering. In fact, Maryland is one of the few places to have hosted legal gambling, banned legal gambling, then reintroduced it. In short, Maryland has a lengthy relationship with games of chance.
Here is a brief history of key dates in Maryland gambling.
1947: Although there are reports that legal slot gambling existed in Maryland as early as 1943, there is no doubt that several counties in the southern portion of the state have machines up and running four years later. The legalization and operation are in defiance of a governor’s veto at the time, but it appears to work. Anne Arundel, Calvert, St. Mary’s and Charles counties collectively operate roughly 5,000 legal slot machines in barbershops, bars, laundromats and other retail stores. The activity reaches such a fever pitch that Charles County’s Waldorf is known as “Little Vegas,” and the town’s slot machine revenue outpaces that of Las Vegas itself.
1968: After 21 years of frenzied slot gambling in the southern portion of the state, gambling opponents such as Maryland clergy, philosophically opposed journalists and, notably, Gov. Millard Tawes increase their efforts to persuade the Maryland General Assembly to act on the slot craze. The Legislature responds and bans slot machines in June 1968. However, it isn’t so simple as passing a vote. Needless to say, representatives from those southern counties are dismayed at the lost revenue. So, in order to buy their acquiescence, legislators have to offer something in return. That something is, ultimately, the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge, which connects Calvert and St. Mary’s counties.
1972: Of course, making something illegal does not make the desire for it go away. Sympathetic lawmakers introduce a slate of bills to bring slot gambling back to Maryland in the years that follow the 1968 ban. The sudden void in gambling options is at least partially responsible for the overwhelming voter approval for a state lottery in 1972. The Maryland State Lottery Exception, Question 2 passes its referendum by a whopping 77%-23% margin, and reports indicate that the discrepancy is even starker in some areas of Maryland. The first lottery tickets go on sale the following year and are immediately gobbled up. By 1990, the Washington Post reports that lottery spending in Maryland is “among the nation’s leaders in per capita receipts.” The feverish nature of lottery purchasing in the state is also part of the reason that the notion of reintroducing slot machines never fully dies.
2008: Though it takes nearly 40 years, slot machines make their triumphant return to Maryland in 2008 … in a manner of speaking. Technically, the machines that Maryland voters approved in five counties in the state are video lottery terminals. So, while they look and act like slot machines, they are actually under the purview of lottery officials. Of course, none of that specificity matters to residents in the city of Baltimore and Allegany, Anne Arundel, Cecil and Worcester counties. Each area now looks forward to a casino location. The first casino to open is the Hollywood Casino Perryville, which cuts the ribbon in September 2010. The other four properties launch by August 2014.
2012: In the midst of all this expansion, Maryland voters decide that they want even more gambling options. So, in November 2012, they vote to authorize the placement of table games in the five casinos either open or in development. In addition, each casino location is now permitted to operate around the clock, instead of closing in the wee hours. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the vote also allows for a sixth casino location to develop in Prince George’s County. This venue ultimately becomes the MGM National Harbor, which opens for business in December 2016. Thus, in eight short years, six full-service casinos open in Maryland.
2020: Maryland voters appear to have the same attitude toward gambling expansions that the tattooed have about getting more ink — there’s no reason to stop now. Two years after the state’s sixth casino opened its doors, the US Supreme Court overturns a federal sports betting ban. It’s no surprise when Maryland voters overwhelmingly authorize wagering on sporting events on a referendum in November 2020. The only thing between Marylanders and sports betting now was the actual law and regulation to govern it. Now that the Maryland Legislature has moved forward, it’s only a matter of months before the first sports bet happens in the Old Line State.