Maryland’s gambling laws are as simple as they come. Some claim that Maryland does not have any laws pertaining specifically to internet gambling, and that is offered as some sort of basis for it being silent in the matter in some way.
However, the law in this state when it comes to gambling is as inclusive as it could possibly be. S12-102 (a) of the Maryland Code states: “Prohibited: a person may not bet, wager, or gamble.”
It doesn’t get any clearer than that. If you are in the state of Maryland, and you bet, wager, or gamble, other than through state sanctioned betting of course, then you are in violation of the law.
This even includes playing for money in home games, and in fact this state is famous for that, although there is a bill before the Maryland legislature that is looking to overturn that particular aspect (2). Home games aren’t mentioned specifically in the code, but keep in mind that the code prohibits all forms of gambling, and this is a form of gambling.
The so-called “Blue Monday” indictments, where U.S. authorities put together a second round of legal action following the infamous “Black Friday” events, originated out of Maryland, which put a scare into several offshore online poker companies.
So in spite of the U.S. Department of Justice’s finally admitting that the Wire Act did not apply to poker, removing the teeth of the UIGEA at the Federal level, it still applies if poker is illegal at the state level, and Maryland is one state where that’s pretty clear.
Legal Poker In Maryland
Not all poker is illegal in Maryland, only non-state sanctioned poker. There are no Indian casinos in Maryland, but there are several state licensed casinos in Maryland, with more on the way. The most famous of them is the Maryland Live Casino in Hanover – the largest casino in the state – which not only offers casino action but has a thriving poker scene.
At Maryland Live, poker is not just a small game on the side like you see at a lot of casinos but a pretty big deal. They feature a 52-table poker room on two separate levels, which is one of the largest poker rooms in the country.
The Rocky Gap Casino Resort in Cumberland and the Hollywood Casino Perryville in Perryville also offer live poker action for players in the state. Three of the four casinos operating right now in Maryland do have poker rooms, with the fourth, Ocean Downs in Berlin, currently limit their action to slot games only as far as casino operations go.
The Horseshoe Baltimore, operated by Caesar’s, in Baltimore, MD, is nearly completed, and this will be the second largest casino in the state once finished, and will also have a significant poker room, so this will add to the selection in Maryland for live poker. The MGM National Harbor Casino is planned to be opened in 2016 and will likely feature poker as well.
Live poker is pretty popular in Maryland though and if you live in the state and want to play some poker, there is now plenty of action within easy driving distance no matter where you are located within the state.
Online Poker In Maryland
There is no current bill before the Maryland legislature nor any immediate plans to pursue online poker regulation at this time, and according to the head of the Lottery Commission there, the topic has not even been brought up yet in the state government. (3)
It is only recently that they approved live table games, including poker tables, and the focus these days has been more on the live gambling scene than the online one. Still though, they seem to be looking at states with existing online gambling regulation, particularly New Jersey, to see how that ends up doing, and at some point it is likely that this will merit more serious discussion.
So for now it’s a waiting game for those from Maryland who wish to play regulated online poker. It is at least a couple of years away and maybe even longer.
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