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Maryland may be 1st to hold fantasy sports referendum

Maryland LotteryMaryland Lottery: Maryland may be 1st to hold fantasy sports referendum

Maryland would become the first state to let voters decide whether the popular but controversial phenomenon of Internet fantasy sports betting is fully legal, under a bill now pending in the legislature.

But if the House of Delegates decides not to put the matter to referendum — or if the referendum happens and voters say no — another pending bill would explicitly ban the practice, which has been debated all over the country. Nearly 30 legislatures are considering proposals to regulate, ban or affirm fantasy sports betting.

One Maryland measure would ask voters to decide in November whether to allow commercial daily fantasy sports betting. The second would define daily fantasy sports betting as illegal, except in small social groups, unless voters say otherwise in a referendum.

State senators voted unanimously for both bills Wednesday, without debate. They now go to the House.

"We're giving two options to the House of Delegates," Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said after the votes.

Alexandra Hughes, chief of staff to House Speaker Michael Busch, wouldn't predict what the House will do, since the legislation originated in the Senate and the House hasn't had hearings on it yet.

A 2012 Maryland law authorized fantasy sports betting, but only in small social groups that play all season. It doesn't cover the daily betting offered by commercial companies like DraftKings and FanDuel that became popular after the law was enacted.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh advised lawmakers earlier this year to clarify the law. Frosh's office noted commercial gambling expansion requires voter approval. That's due to a constitutional amendment allowing casino gambling that voters approved in 2008.

The measure putting the question on the Maryland ballot also would create regulations for an industry that currently has none in the state. For example, companies would have to apply for a license with the State Lottery and GamingControl Commission, which would regulate the business. The commission also would have to create an application fee for the license. Players would have to be at least 21.

In fantasy sports betting, people deposit money in accounts and create fantasy rosters by selecting real players. They then compete to win money against other contestants based on their players' performances.

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3 comments. Last comment 1 year ago by DELotteryPlyr.
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music*'s avatar - bee
Fresno California
United States
Member #157856
August 2, 2014
1677 Posts
Posted: March 25, 2016, 6:54 pm - IP Logged

 I hope that Californian voters and legislature will say NO when their time comes for a vote. Allow the other States to experiment with this type of gaming.

Keep the good times rolling !!!  White Bounce

    sully16's avatar - sharan
    United States
    Member #81740
    October 28, 2009
    44756 Posts
    Posted: March 25, 2016, 10:49 pm - IP Logged

    Go for it Maryland.

    America First ! US Flag

      United States
      Member #162434
      January 2, 2015
      1026 Posts
      Posted: March 26, 2016, 5:46 pm - IP Logged

      WOW, I watch the local MD news all the time and didn't see anything about this! I am always happy to see things like this go to the voters Thumbs Up