DraftKings, FanDuel Push For Maryland Sports Betting

In the last several months, an ongoing campaign to legalize sports betting in Maryland received $750,000 from industry giants DraftKings and FanDuel. The question of whether or not to legalize sports betting in the state will be brought to Maryland voters to decide in this year’s hotly contested elections on November 3, 2020. Maryland is far from the only state in the US with a vocal contingent seeking to radically alter existing gambling laws.

The Camden Yards baseball stadium in Baltimore, Maryland.

Maryland is just the latest US state to consider legalizing sports betting, now propelled by lots of money and a basketball superstar. ©12019/Pixabay

“Vote Yes on Question 2”: The Brainchild of A WNBA Superstar

The ongoing push to legalize sports betting in Maryland has been chaired by Marissa Coleman, a former WNBA and University of Maryland basketball player. Since securing this vital funding, the Vote Yes on Question 2 has officially launched a multi-platform media advertising campaign, including a website and television ad spots.

In the first ad spot, which aired in mid-September, a number of people describe themselves as public school teachers. They then explain that COVID-19-related financial losses mean that increasing tax revenue, such as that brought in from gambling, could fund essential parts of the state’s economy, including education.

In order for “Vote Yes on Question 2” to appear on this November’s ballot at all, state legislators had to first sign off on the motion. At the time, legislators estimated that a tremendous $20 million to $40 million could be generated from legal state-wide sports betting, which would specifically fund education.

Question 2, in addition to legalizing sports betting in-state, would also legalize betting on various entertainment events, such as the Grammys, Academy Awards, or BET Awards. As Coleman has explained, illegal sports betting is already happening in-state. Legal sports betting would merely add much-needed additional money to Maryland’s public schools.

FanDuel and DraftKings Come On Board

Since July, FanDuel and DraftKings have significantly invested in the prospect of legal gambling in Maryland, throwing their collective weight behind Marissa Coleman’s campaign. In July, DraftKings contributed $250,000 to Coleman’s efforts. In early September, this was followed by a $500,000 investment from FanDuel.

According to a spokesperson for FanDuel, the decision to invest this month came after seeing a campaign finance report from the “Vote Yes on Question 2” campaign. The company, which considers itself a competitor of DraftKings, states that it plans to invest between $1 million and $1.5 million in the campaign.

A Familiar Argument

As the coronavirus pandemic has continued, more and more states have brought up discussions of legalizing additional forms of betting in some capacity. Proponents of these newly lenient measures always point to the great need in the state to secure new sources of tax revenue, as gambling is often highly taxed to give some percentage to the state.

Even before the coronavirus, Maryland strongly considered the question of legalizing sports betting. At the time, DraftKings and FanDuel threw their hats in the ring — along with other gambling industry companies both within and outside of Maryland — to be granted a license to operate within Maryland.

During the Pandemic, More States Legalize

In fact, this argument has proven persuasive in a number of states. In June alone, back-to-back decisions saw new laws for Ohio, Louisiana, and Illinois meaning new opportunities for local gambling industries. In Ohio and Louisiana, both bills had only one final step to complete before becoming the law of the land.

The new Ohio law, once approved, would greatly expand the number of locations and groups which could legally offer sports betting. This would include the state’s four land-based casinos, as well as its seven race tracks, and even veterans’ organizations, of which there are over 1,000 in Ohio. Online and mobile betting would also be allowed.

In Louisana, should the Governor sign off on a bill passed by the state Senate in June of this year, state voters can decide on a local basis if they would approve of legal sports betting in their community. What will likely happen, then, is that sports betting will be legal in some parts of the state, but not universally.

Just a short time later, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker definitively allowed for legal online sports betting in the state. This measure was seen as a means of offering a lifeboat to the gambling industry of Illinois, which evidently struggled tremendously during the enforced lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. This measure is understood as temporary.

A Good Time for US Sports Betting

Though the early months of the pandemic may have indicated otherwise, the state of post-lockdown affairs in the US indicates that it’s a time of unprecedented growth in the legal sports betting sector. This has been in the works since 2018, when the US Supreme Court overturned an existing law which made sports betting illegal on a national level.

In just the last month alone, a huge number of new sports betting apps have been put into play by some of the biggest names in the industry, from VSiN and BetMGM’s “Betting Across America” to the soft launch of a brand-new Barstool Sports betting app in Pennsylvania and a new William Hill online sportsbook in Colorado.

Legalizing Is Proving Lucrative

As state after state is showing, too, it doesn’t take long for legal sports betting to start making serious money for states. One particular successful state has been Colorado, which saw $25.6 million in sports bets in May, the first month sports betting was legal in Colorado. This grew even more in July, when bettors wagered $38.1 million.

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