Despite having a rich history in gambling through the lottery and horse racing, Maryland was a late bloomer when it came to casino gaming. But by passing a law to allow slot machines in 2008, Maryland set the wheels in motion to have casinos built across the state.

The state's progress in casino gaming is promising, but from an online perspective Maryland is not a great place for sports bettors to live. While rarely enforced, Maryland's laws call for harsh penalties against anyone who places any kind of bet outside of a casino in the state.

Best Betting Sites for Maryland

Gaming Laws in Maryland

The Maryland Slot Machines Amendment was on the ballot in Maryland on November 4, 2008. The measure gave the state the authority to issue up to five video lottery licenses and place up to 15,000 slot machines throughout the state at five different locations. When this law passed, Maryland became the 38th state to allow live casino gaming or slot machines.

In 2012, gambling rights in Maryland were expanded even further. One extra casino was approved to be built in addition to the five that were already approved, and table games were allowed to be introduced into these establishments. While before these casinos only served as slot parlors, they could now function more like standard casinos to include table games and poker rooms.

The legalization and expansion of these casinos was a welcome change to the Maryland Code as gambling outside of these legal casinos is strictly prohibited. Under Penal Code 12-102, “a person may not bet, wager, or gamble” in the state of Maryland. Bettors that are caught and convicted are guilty of a misdemeanor which is subject to 6-12 months in prison and a fine of $200 to $1000.

Sports Betting in Maryland

Sports betting is illegal in the state of Maryland. While most states offer much harsher penalties for bookmaking as opposed to betting, Maryland's state laws don't actually make specific mention of bookmaking. Instead, anyone who is partaking in gambling whether they are betting or receiving a bet are by the letter of the law committing a misdemeanor.

Online Betting

Offshore sportsbooks do not fall under the jurisdiction of Maryland's state laws as they are not in the state or the country. As a result, many of them still offer online betting to Maryland residents despite it being illegal in the state.

There are no specific mentions of online gambling anywhere in the Maryland Code, but it would be difficult to argue against its illegality when all forms of “betting, wagering, and gambling” are deemed illegal and punishable by misdemeanor by the state. While this law is not a heavily regulated one, residents of Maryland must understand the risks that come with placing bets in the state and decide for themselves whether or not they want to take those risks. With no other sports betting avenues available, online betting is the only viable option Maryland sports bettors have.

Poker and Casino in Maryland

In 2010, the Hollywood Casino in Perryville opened, becoming the first casino in Maryland to open its doors to the public. Ocean Downs in Berlin followed in 2011, the Rocky Gap Casino Resort and the Maryland Live! Casino opened in 2013 and the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore opened in 2014. In 2016, the MGM National Harbor will open in Prince George's County.

The Horseshoe Baltimore has a World Series of Poker themed poker room, but the biggest poker room in the state by far is the Maryland Live! Poker Room with over 50 tables. Both locations offer cash games and tournaments.

Online Poker

As is the case with online sports betting, many online poker rooms will accept business from Maryland residents as they are not under the jurisdiction of the state of Maryland. Playing online poker is illegal in the state of Maryland under the definition that any bet or wager is, even if poker is not mentioned specifically.

Poker players in Maryland must weigh the pros and cons of playing online illegally or playing live in the state's legal casinos. Live games are more limited, but players don't have to worry about being caught either.

Other Gaming Options in Maryland

Horse racing is alive and well in the state of Maryland with two harness race tracks at Ocean Downs and Rosecraft Raceway and three standard race tracks at Laurel Park Racecourse, Maryland State Fairgrounds (when the fair is in town) and the Pimlico Race Course. Baltimore's Pimlico track hosts the annual Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

Maryland Lottery

The Maryland Lottery was established in 1973 and is the fourth largest contributor to the state's economy. The state offers in-state drawings, multi-state drawings including Powerball and Mega Millions, and scratch ticket games.