Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD at night. Maryland Report Hints at Plans for Online Poker, Joining MSIGA Inner Harbor in Baltimore, MD at night. Maryland Report Hints at Plans for Online Poker, Joining MSIGA

A report commissioned by regulators estimates that a Maryland online poker and casino gaming market would generate $533.4 million in gross gaming revenue in 2026, increasing to $921.1 million in 2032.

In a 49-page report by The Innovation Group, researchers forecast that future online poker and casino gaming in Maryland would reach maturity in 2029, with $904.9 million in gross gaming revenue. The report, “iGaming in Maryland,” was commissioned by the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency (MLGCA).

As part of their analysis, researchers calculated igaming revenue per adult in six states with legal online poker and casino gaming from 2022. New Jersey led the field with $231, followed by Michigan ($209) and Pennsylvania ($138).

West Virginia ($83), Connecticut ($83), and Delaware ($17) were much lower, the report found.

“We believe that the strongest states in per capita revenue — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey — will be the most apt comparables for Maryland.”

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Setup Similar to MI and NJ Recommended

Seven igaming states — Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia — were studied by The Innovation Group. Rhode Island was excluded because its online casino market doesn’t launch until March 2024.

Researchers conducted interviews to uncover best practices from the igaming states.

“Interviewees generally suggest that Maryland should consider adopting aspects of the New Jersey and Michigan legislation, as those states have fostered healthy and burgeoning igaming markets that produce an economic benefit for both the state and the state’s existing casinos,” the report said.

Maryland would best be served if the state set up online casino gaming and poker in a similar fashion to Michigan and New Jersey. Both states required online operators to partner with existing brick-and-mortar casinos.

If Maryland created a “tethered system” similar to Michigan and New Jersey, the state’s online poker market would likely see BetMGM, PokerStars, Run It Once, and WSOP partner with four different land-based casinos:

Potential Operator Prospective Land-Based Casino Partner
BetMGM Poker MD MGM National Harbor
PokerStars MD Live! Casino & Hotel Maryland
Run It Once MD Bingo World
WSOP MD Horseshoe Casino Baltimore

According to researchers, one advantage to having a “tethered” system is “that cannibalization of land-based gaming revenue can be mitigated with good omnichannel marketing.

“Mobile apps extend a casino’s reach into other parts of the state in a cost-effective way.”

Still, researchers said some cannibalization of retail casino gaming is expected. An analysis of igaming and non-igaming states from 2019 to 2022 found revenue among the non-igaming states grew 2% relative to baseline during those four years while igaming state revenue declined 10.2% by the same metric — implying that an impact of -10.2% on gross gaming revenue at brick-and-mortar casinos from igaming.

“We believe that the 10.2% impact is slightly overstated and that the actual effect is more likely between 8% and 9%,” the report said.

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Lots of Love for MSIGA

To inform lawmakers and get them comfortable with the idea of launching multi-state poker, the report went into detail to explain the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA). The multi-state gaming compact is critical to building a healthy online poker market.

MSIGA is the primary multi-jurisdictional agreement of relevance to a legal igaming market in Maryland,” the report said. “The success of MSIGA provides a blueprint for other states that might be considering online poker legalization.

“As more states see the benefits of shared liquidity and understand that it’s possible without sacrificing regulatory oversight, MSIGA could expand further.”

In a twist, West Virginia joined the compact the day before the report was released. The Mountain State became the fifth MSIGA state, joining Delaware, Michigan, Nevada, and New Jersey.

Maryland will now border two MSIGA states — Delaware and West Virginia. If neighboring Pennsylvania also joins the compact, it could put increased pressure on Maryland to launch online casino and poker.

What the Last Bill Proposed

During the 2023 session, Senate Majority Leader Nancy King (D-Montgomery) and Ron Watson (D-Prince George’s) introduced legislation that called for expanding igaming to include online casino and poker. Sports betting launched in November 2022.

The bill introduced by King and Watson, SB 267, articulated that the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Commission (MLGCC), the advisory board of the MLGCA, can recommend that the state enter a multi-state gaming compact like MSIGA.

Specifically, under SB 267, Democratic Governor Wes Moore “is authorized to enter into an agreement with other governments…that allows and provides for participation in multi-jurisdictional internet gaming by individuals who are physically located in jurisdictions over which the governments that are a party to the agreement exercise legal authority.”

SB 267 was introduced in the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee on January 25, 2023. A hearing was held five days later, but the bill did not get out of committee before the Maryland General Assembly adjourned sine die on April 10.

Proponents of igaming expansion in the Old Line State will need to introduce a new bill for the 2024 session, which convenes on January 10 and adjourns sine die on April 8. If the new bill passes and is subsequently signed by Moore, whether to expand igaming will be on the ballot for voters in November 2024.

“When [the new bill] passes, because it will, we look forward to being able to implement it in 2025,” Watson told the media outlet BetMaryland last July.