Maryland Casino and Card Room Gaming
In November 2008, responsibility for regulating the operation of video lottery terminals (VLTs) was assigned to the SLGCA, when the Acts of 2007 legalized slot machines. The Maryland Video License Facility Location Commission (MVLFLC) was also formed at this time and was made responsible for oversight of the bidding and selection process of the new VLT license operations and locations only.
Casino gaming was first legalized in Maryland in November 2008. The first casino, Hollywood Casino in Perryville, opened on 17 September 2010. It was followed by a racino at Ocean Downs in January 2011, and Maryland Live! in June 2012. On 22 May 2013, the Rocky Gap Casino Resort opened its doors. The Horseshoe Baltimore opened on 26 August 2014. MGM National Harbor opened on 8 December 2016.
Proceeds from slot machines primarily benefit the Maryland Education Trust Fund, which receives almost 50% of net profits. Casino operators receive 33%, while the remaining 17% is distributed to the SLGCA for administrative costs; to the racing industry for purses and breeders' awards (7%); to local impact grants; and to small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses. Table game proceeds are distributed with casino operators keeping 80% of net profits and the Maryland Education Trust Fund receiving the remaining 20%.
Legalization of slot machines in November 2008 was a major step toward legalized casino gaming for the state. The process started in 2001, when the Special Committee on Gambling was formed to determine the benefits of legalizing casinos and slots at racetracks.
Governor Elrich released a slot machine proposal on 30 January 2003 specifying that 64% of slot net profits collected by the state would benefit education. The proposal placed slots at major horse racing tracks and valued the industry at $800 million to $1 billion.
In September 2004, an attempt to put a gambling referendum on the ballot failed. The referendum would have added 15,500 slot machines at three racetrack locations and three other sites in Maryland. In 2006, after the gambling referendum got placed on the ballot, the added slots were not approved, along with legislation requiring voter approval for all gambling legislation.
In January 2006, a study found that slot machines billed as "for amusement only" were illegally paying out winnings to gamblers, and as a result may have been costing the state $15 million a year in lost tax revenue. This finding prompted the introduction of the Illegal Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which required the comptroller's office to report annually to the General Assembly the number of illegal slot machines in the state, as well as the amount of uncollected tax revenue and the number of illegal machines confiscated by police.
In November 2007, the Senate approved a proposal for 15,000 slot machines at five locations to appear on a November 2008 referendum. The bill did not require approval from the governor, but included a provision requiring slot operators to comply with local zoning regulations. The bill also gave final say to local officials on whether to allow slots in counties such as Anne Arundel and Cecil. Slot machines were proposed in Anne Arundel, Allegany, Cecil and Worcester counties and Baltimore city. Racetracks included in these counties were Laurel Park and Ocean Downs, but not Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.
In November 2008, Maryland voters passed a constitutional amendment to allow 15,000 slot machines at five locations throughout the state. Maryland officials claimed that slot machines would stop gambling dollars from going to neighboring Delaware, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, which all allow slots. A deadline for proposals was set for 1 February 2009.
In January 2009, the city of Baltimore announced that prospective casino operators were expected to pay annual rent of at least $36 million to the city and to build a casino to exacting environmental specifications. The state required applicants to pay an upfront fee of $3 million toward the gambling license and commit to $25 million in capital investments for every 500 machines installed over the first 15 years.
In February 2009, there was an attempt to add 3,000 slot machines in the Baltimore Washington International Airport by 2011. The proposal failed.
In March 2009, the Baltimore County administration approved a zoning change to allow for a planned 3,750-machine casino.
In 2010, there were several failed attempts to allow table games and live poker into the state. One proposal would have legalized table games at locations with slot machines and another at a poker room at a Prince George's racetrack.
Then, on 7 February 2012, Sen. Peters introduced legislation that would legalize an additional casino in Prince George's County (PGC), as well as allow a specified number of slot machines and table games in PGC and the existing and planned casinos. Two and one-half percent (2.5%) of PGC casino revenue would fund economic development, and another 2.5% would fund a new county hospital. The proposal failed; however, Governor O'Malley called a special session in July 2012 to address gambling expansion again. This time the bill passed, and on 6 November, the referendum allowing table games at existing authorized casinos and allowing a sixth casino located in PGC won voter approval. The Acts of 2012 also increased the total number of VLTs allowed in the state to 16,500.
In December 2013, Maryland awarded the PGC license to MGM. Construction of the MGM National Harbor casino began in April 2014, and it opened on 8 December 2016.
On 31 January 2013, HB567 was introduced, which would authorize VLT operator licenses to expand into establishments licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. The bill, which required a voter referendum, would authorize the MVLFLC to award VLT operator licenses throughout the state to holders of state alcoholic beverages licenses. The bill would also change the number of newly authorized VLTs to five per licensed location, but did not limit the total number of VLTs that could be awarded. If voters approved the referendum, the bill would take effect on the 30th day following the November 2014 general election. However, in March 2013, a fiscal analysis committee report gave it an unfavorable assessment and the bill was withdrawn.
In February 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee reviewed a bill that would decriminalize gambling on games of skill at home.
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