Maryland Gambling Laws

Meryland Casino Gambling

When you think about the long history Maryland has with gambling, it can seem quite strange that the casinos were legalized in 2012. Namely, the beloved horse racing was present and legal in Maryland ever since the late 19th century. Until it became a part of online gambling in the 20th century, this activity was regulated by the state government.

The state of Maryland jumped on the casino bandwagon later than most states in the area. The general acceptance of each casino gambling activity went slowly but steadily, and today you can enjoy many casinos which are designed in the style of Atlantic City.

It is considered that the first legal gambling activity was the lottery, which was mostly a way for charity organizations to acquire funds for the less fortunate. After that, slot machines became the new wave of casino games which attracted more and more players to the casino, making the state resemble Vegas to many.

However, it is important to know that with each step forward the state made in this area, the prohibition took it two steps backward. Each time another activity was legalized, the forces behind the prohibition banned it, making casino creators take creative measures in order to keep the games alive.

The age restriction for participating in the state lottery is 18, and 21 for the casinos. Also, the no-smoking ban stretches to all indoor businesses, so you won’t be able to enjoy a cigar in a casino no matter the age.

A Brief History of Gambling In Maryland

During the 2-century-long history of gambling in this state, the laws in Maryland were quite strict. The state lotteries are a given, but the progress in other parts of the industry was pretty slow. Today, there are only 6 casinos in total. Still, Maryland is a residential home to players from many other neighboring states which do not allow many casino games, such as Virginia.

Maryland casino inside

The first ever church lotteries were present in Maryland in the late 18th century. Though they seemed like harmless fun at first, they eventually turned into a massive corruption scandal. That’s why they were forbidden for a long time but were ultimately legalized in 1870.

Next, horse racing became the most popular activity. Maryland has a long history of enjoying it, and they even built two top-quality tracks — the Pimlico Race Course and the Laurel Park track. In 1920 an even bigger step was made, by creating a special racing board to overlook all of the activities and allow only the best when betting on the tracks.

Then, during the 1940s and 1950s came the slot machines, which soon became the favorite game of chance to all Maryland natives. The state feared that the machines would be taking over the economy, so they tried banning them — but with little success. You could play the slot machines for a nickel in practically any convenience store or gas station in the state. They eventually got removed much later, in 1968.

Since then up until today, there wasn’t a lot of development in this area. The next big step happened in 2010 when the citizens were given a referendum to decide whether they want casinos or not. The vote for was a majority, and the first casino was opened in 2012. Though the first poker rooms were opened only a few years ago, they regularly host some of the biggest poker tournaments, and some other poker games as well, which have fans traveling cross-state merely to witness them.

When it comes to online poker, many believe there is a good chance it will become a common game in this state in the following years.

Different Types of Maryland Gambling

Today, you can enjoy a variety of games of chance in this US state. First, you can enjoy the charity bingo and raffles. The lottery tickets and scratch-offs can be bought in any convenience store in Maryland. When it comes to raffles, however, they can only be performed twice a year. The local government is fully responsible for the laws and the policies in this area, especially bingo.

Maryland Capitol

As for casino games, you can play them in one of the 6 casinos in the state. That might not seem like a lot but, for the residents of Maryland, it is enough. What’s more, many ther players from across the country come here to indulge in their favorite games. From slots to Blackjack and Craps, all is fair in Maryland casinos; and these are:

  • Rocky Gap Casino
  • Horse Shoe Casino
  • Hollywood Casino
  • Maryland Live
  • Ocean Downs
  • MGM National Harbour

On the other hand, poker is a tricky category for this state. Namely, Maryland was a host to a multi-million dollar poker tournament which is great for the state’s image and the economy. However, the online poker option is still a no-go, even though the efforts are being made for the Senate to pass the bill and allow it. Also, home poker games are permitted, as long as they are not played for real money, but this is quite tough to regulate, as you would imagine.

Also, an important fact to remember is that the possession of any gambling device is illegal, both on land or water within the state.

Maryland’s Statute on Gambling

Though the state of Maryland seems strict in this area, the situation is actually becoming less strict as time passes. The experts believe that many other gambling activities will be proclaimed legal in the following years.

But for now, the statute forbids a person to “keep, rent or use […] occupied all or a part of a building […] within the state for the purpose of betting, wagering or gambling […] on the result of a race, contest or contingency”.

What this shows us is that, not only are you not allowed to gamble outside of a casino, but you also can’t host any of the casino games on your own; if they involve real money that is.

What’s Next?

The gambling dilemma is currently on the rise in the state of Maryland — hence why so many experts are trying to pass different bills in the Senate. For instance, the one allowing non-ranked home games to be held, in the near future. Also, there is some talk about widening the online gambling library within the state, which is quite reassuring to many enthusiastic casino players. Only time will tell.