Posted on: February 29, 2024, 04:24h. 

Last updated on: February 29, 2024, 04:24h.

A new poll commissioned by a group opposed to online casino gambling in Maryland finds inadequate support to pass a ballot referendum this November to authorize iGaming.

Maryland iGaming online casino gambling
Inner Harbor and the Baltimore Skyline. New polling suggests that most Maryland residents are opposed to legalizing online casino gaming, or iGaming. (Image: Baltimore Area Convention & Visitors Association)

The Maryland Retailers Alliance (MRA) lobbies lawmakers in Annapolis on behalf of retail businesses.

The organization believes iGaming — online slot machines and interactive table games that can be played 24/7 — would cannibalize brick-and-mortar casino play. MRA officials say that would hurt retail businesses that surround the state’s six commercial casino locations.

MRA contracted Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based public policy polling firm. PPP says it surveyed Marylanders to gauge their support for bringing casino gambling to their homes via the internet.

Most respondents, the polling house found, oppose such legislation.

Poll Light on Details

The MRA-commissioned PPP poll did not specify how many Maryland residents were asked about iGaming. The release on the probe also did not mention whether those who responded were likely voters, their party affiliation, their age, income level, gender, or ethnicity.

Public Policy Polling nonetheless announced that 64% of Marylanders are against internet gambling. The pollsters reported that just 23% expressed support for online casinos while 13% said they weren’t sure.

The poll question read:

“Maryland politicians are considering internet gambling legislation, which would allow 24-hour access to slot machines and casino gambling on your mobile devices. Would you support or oppose expanding gambling in Maryland to allow internet gambling, sometimes called iGaming or iLottery, on your phone or computer?”

PPP said the findings have a margin of error of +/4.1%. Despite scant details on the polling set, MRA President Cailey Locklair said the results demonstrate strong hostility to internet gambling.

Marylanders in every region of the state, Republicans and Democrats alike, are united in their opposition of iGaming and iLottery,” Locklair said in a statement. “These policies would negatively impact not only the gaming and lottery industries but also every community that benefits from their local economic stimulation.”

Locklair explained that Maryland’s casinos are located within 20 miles of 11 Maryland Main Street communities and eight Main Street neighborhoods in Baltimore City.

“A downturn of the casino industry would have a direct negative impact on the local tourism economy, hitting every restaurant, retailer, and hotel that operates near these entertainment epicenters,” Locklair concluded.

Path to Ballot

Maryland lawmakers in both chambers of the General Assembly are considering iGaming bills. No measure has yet reached a floor for a full vote.

For lawmakers to authorize iGaming, they first need approval from state voters through a statewide ballot referendum to amend the Maryland Constitution to permit online gambling.

In Maryland, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment must secure 60% support in each chamber, or 85 votes in the House of Delegates and 29 votes in the Senate. The measure must then be signed by the governor.

Afterward, the ballot referendum language is required to be published in at least two newspapers in each county — if possible — once a week for four weeks in the leadup to the election.

Come Election Day, only a simple majority of the electorate needs to lend support to the referendum for the constitution to be amended.

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