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Gambling in any form is illegal in Maryland - online poker or otherwise. The Old Line State is among the strictest states in the country when it comes to poker and it doesn't look like that's going to change any time soon.
Maryland is in the typical grey area when it comes to legal online poker sites. There are not any laws expressly prohibiting playing online poker, therefore, most consider it to be legal. Maryland has been very aggressive going after Internet poker providers, but has never even charged anyone with playing at online poker sites in Maryland.
Maryland has a long history of gambling, dating back to the colonists settling in that area. While gambling was frowned upon by most initial settlers, societal growth brought saloons and games of chance, as well as laws to try to prevent it. The first major foray into the world of gambling didn't happen until the 1860s, when then Governor Oden Bowie decided to build Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, which led to the naming of the Preakness Stakes there in 1873. Not only has Maryland played an integral role in the world of horse racing in the United States, but the Preakness has hosted some of the most memorable races in history as part of the prestigious Triple Crown.
Q. Why is betting on horse racing classified differently from other forms of gambling?
A. Horse racing has a long history around the world of a respected sport, and betting has been studied enough that most would say it requires skill. The horse racing industry in the United States is also very powerful as a lobbying organization, and their hefty political contributions can sway legislators from voting for any other form of gambling that might create a competitor for horse racing. Unless the race tracks can install slot machines, for example, and make money from that form of gambling, their proprietors have no reason to support gambling or legal online poker sites in Maryland.
Q. Has Delaware talked to Maryland about partnering for an online poker site?
A. Not much is known about any talks behind closed doors among legislators, but there are no public plans for the two states to cooperate at this point. Delaware has made it known that it would like to open its online gambling up to interstate offerings for customers, but there are no signs that Maryland is considering it. Legal sites for online poker in Maryland could increase revenue for the state and for its current casinos and racetracks, but opponents do not often see the benefits through their fears.
Q. Will Maryland residents be able to play online poker on Delaware's websites?
A. No. Safety measures will be implemented to prohibit players with out-of-state IP addresses from playing on real money online poker sites in Maryland or any other state.
Q. Has Maryland explored online sales for lottery tickets?
A. As other states proceed with online lottery ticket sales, such as in Delaware and Illinois, Maryland may be considering its options. A 2011 decision from the Department of Justice also made it clear that online lotteries will not violate the Wire Act, which is why other states are proceeding with its implementation. Should Maryland move forward with online lottery sales, the subject of online poker in Maryland could be broached.
Slot machines were legalized in Charles County in 1949 but criminalized in 1968 as part of a statewide gambling ban. Beyond horse racing and pari-mutuel wagering, the lottery was the next wave of gambling to be embraced by Maryland. The Maryland Lottery was established in 1973 by voter approval for a constitutional amendment. Decades later, the residents of the state were ready to go further, and in 2008, the voters approved an amendment to allow slot machines in gambling or racing establishments around the state, five in particular. Hollywood Casino Perryville was the first to open with slot machines in 2010, and more followed. Table games like poker were being considered as additions to the casinos as part of a gambling expansion play being promoted by Governor Martin O'Malley. Neighboring states had progressed further into gaming, such as online poker in Delaware, and were garnering more visitors than Maryland.
Legal Maryland online poker sites are another story. The primary experience the state had with online poker in its history was that Maryland was the state from which federal indictments were served on several online poker websites in a sting and the 2012 indictment of Bodog founder Calvin Ayre. The only thing to give Maryland pause was that neighbor Delaware passed a 2012 online gambling bill that would allow a plethora of Internet games, including real money online poker in Delaware. The state admitted it would be willing to examine interstate partnerships, which would benefit Maryland, though the state has given no indication of a willingness to participate. No legislator has even broached the subject. To contact them about online poker in Maryland, click here: mdelect.net.
The lottery in Maryland has brought more than $28.6 billion to the state, which is used for state services like education, environmental programs, and public health and safety. In 2011 alone, the lottery earned $1.71 billion, $519 million of which went to the state. Since allowing slot machines in casinos, the first two to implement the slots generated an extra $50 million for the state's coffers in 2011 alone.
Maryland hosts three casinos that employ more than 300 people. The newest, Maryland Live!, has yet to post numbers but looks to be a big draw for tourists in Hanover. Pimlico in Baltimore, home of the Preakness Stakes, continues to be the biggest visitor magnet of all of the casinos or racetracks. In addition to those establishments and the lottery, Maryland draws revenue from pari-mutuel wagering. The state also allows charitable gaming for fundraising purposes.