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Senate Panel Approves Amended Sports Betting Bill; Floor Vote Likely Thursday

The Senate Budget & Taxation Committee gave its unanimous approval on Wednesday to a rewrite of a House measure on sports gambling.

House Bill 940 is expected to be on the Senate floor on Thursday morning.

If approved, the two chambers would need to reconcile differences between the Senate version and the original, which cleared the House overwhelmingly almost a month ago.

Amendments added by the Senate committee eliminate limits on the number of sports betting licenses the state can approve.

The House bill capped the number of “bricks and mortar” licenses — those that would allow wagering on professional and college sports mostly at casinos, race tracks, baseball and football stadiums, and bars and restaurants.

The original bill also capped the number of mobile licenses — those that would allow Marylanders to place bets online.

The state is likely to be swamped by applications for licenses.

Under the House version, a newly created body called the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission would weigh bids submitted by companies wanting in on the action, with an eye toward having as many minority- and women-owned businesses chosen as possible.

The Senate panel voted to allocate $3 million of the state’s portion of the proceeds to historically Black colleges and universities. Another $10 million would go toward unfunded elements of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Fund, money geared toward improving K-12 education.

The House bill was sponsored by Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County). As of late Wednesday, House leaders were still reviewing the Senate bill, Majority Leader Eric G. Luedtke (D-Montgomery) said.

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