Maryland House Lets iLottery Bill Pass Deadline Without A Vote

Maryland is moving on with the debate over legalizing online casinos in the state.

However, ideas around iLottery have been put on hold.

House Bill 1218, seeking legalization of online lottery sales, wasn’t approved and passed on to the state Senate by the March 18 deadline, as it wasn’t put up for a vote.

Should legislators wish to pursue the venture again, they will have to wait until the next legislative session. That won’t occur until January 2025.

iLottery projected to add $30 million to Maryland funding in 2026

HB 1218 was first brought to the Maryland House on Feb. 8. It was a partisan bill sponsored by three Democratic members, with Edith J. Patterson (28th district) being the primary sponsor.

The bill called for the State Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (SLGCA) to allow the establishment of any system or program that permitted residents to purchase state lottery tickets through an electronic device connected to the internet. In other words, it would have allowed Maryland to join the ranks of states offering legal online lottery sites.

In the bill, it was projected that legalizing iLottery would bring in an additional $29.9 million to the SLGCA general fund in fiscal year 2026. That would grow to $106.4 million in added funding in FY 2029.

With 1% of the general fund contributing to the state’s Problem Gambling Fund, it would see an increase of over $1 million by FY 2029.

The bill was targeted to take effect July 1, 2024, with another 12-18 months for iLottery sales to begin.

Though Maryland doesn’t have iLottery in place, it does offer online subscription options for players. Subscription services allow customers to play the same numbers in each drawing of a specific game for up to 52 weeks. Those games include Cash4Life, Multi-Match, Mega Millions and Powerball.

Payments for the subscriptions are still done through the mail, however. That would have been modernized to an online option had this bill passed.

Lottery gaming suppliers testify in support of bill

On Feb. 29, representatives from Scientific Games, International Game Technology (IGT), and NeoGames testified in front of the House Ways and Means Committee in support of HB 1218.

Both IGT and Scientific Games have been partners with the Maryland Lottery. In the case of Scientific Games, it’s had a deal in the state for over 27 years. It provides systems technology, terminals, and communications infrastructure supporting retail lottery games.

“Selling online is an important step for the lottery to market and deliver its products and programs to players across all sales channels – protecting its core brick-and-mortar sales and retailer earnings while developing and growing a new digital audience,” said Christine Wechsler, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Scientific Games, during her testimony.

“The Maryland Lottery is like all other businesses selling products to consumers; it must modernize to meet changing consumer demand. Providing convenient and relevant experiences to consumers online and at retail will be critical to enable the lottery’s sustainability and maximize revenue potential for the state.”

The three gaming representatives faced questions on how iLottery games differ from online casino content, how online lottery will prevent cannibalization of retail lottery sales, and how they can prevent problem gambling among the youth.

In response, the iLottery reps explained that it’s a shared responsibility between the companies and the respective state lawmakers.

“As legislators, you can help to ensure the lottery continues to grow and advancing iLottery will help support and protect the state’s long standing revenue source. The lottery industry recognizes that retailers are critical partners and have been key to the lottery’s long term success,” said Scott Gunn, Senior Vice President of Corporate Public Affairs for IGT.

“Implementing digital lottery products must be done with consumer protections and responsible gaming provisions. Today’s iLottery technology enables lotteries to implement effective responsible gaming programs. Using tools including deposit limits, wagering limits, session limits and self-exclusion. As policymakers, you will need to find the right regulatory fit for Maryland and achieve a balance between stakeholders. The proper balance allows for the right mix of games, responsibility and innovation.”

Meanwhile, Maryland House passes iGaming legislation

The Maryland House did pass proposed online casino legislation this week by a vote of 92-43. The state Senate now has until April 8 to pass the bill (HB 1319) before the general assembly adjourns for the year.

The SLGCA would be put in charge of overseeing online gaming in the state. Up to 30 wagering licenses would be allowed across Maryland if the bill becomes law.

HB 1319 was amended in the House to include a ban on credit cards being used for iGaming activities.

Maryland legislators project that online casinos could generate more than $900 million in annual revenue for the state.

 

Photo by Brian Witte / AP

About the Author

Drew Ellis

Drew Ellis

Lead Writer
A member of Catena Media since 2020, Drew Ellis is the Lead Writer at PlayiLottery, where he handles coverage of the online and retail lottery industry in the US. He previously spearheaded news content at PlayMichigan, where he covered one of the most prominent online lottery industries in the US — among the many other aspects of Michigan's sprawling iGaming market. You can email him at [email protected].
Back To Top