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Hogan signs sports betting, college athlete endorsement bills

Sports betting at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2013. Nevada currently is the only state where single-game wagering is legal. But should the U.S. Supreme Court uphold a New Jersey’s law legalizing such betting at the state’s racetracks and casinos, it could lead to a nationwide repeal of a federal sports betting ban. (DepositPhotos/NickNick)

Sports betting at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in 2013. Maryland, as early as this fall, is set to join the ranks of states that have legalized sports betting. (DepositPhotos/NickNick)

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law a measure to implement sports betting in the state, as Maryland joins other states that have legalized sports wagering since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way in 2018.

Maryland voters approved sports betting in a ballot question in November, and the bill signed by Hogan includes provisions for how sports betting will be implemented in the state.

The law will allow sports wagering at casinos, the stadiums where the state’s three professional sports teams play and horse racing tracks. The state also is allowing 30 licenses for businesses that want to offer sports betting and up to 60 more licenses for online betting.

Sports wagering could begin as soon as this fall.

Hogan also signed legislation that makes Maryland the latest state to allow college athletes to earn money from endorsements.

The Jordan McNair Safe and Fair Play Act is named after the former University of Maryland offensive lineman who died in 2018 after suffering from heatstroke at a team workout. In addition to allowing college athletes to earn money from use of their name, likeness and image, it requires athletic departments to implement guidelines to prevent, assess and treat serious sports-related conditions.

“The bill is an important statement that our state government is going to prioritize the health and financial needs of our student athletes,” said Del. Brooke Lierman, a Democrat who was a bill sponsor.

More than a dozen states have approved laws to allow athletes to be compensated for use of their name, image or likeness, or NIL for short.

“I think it’s something nationally that’s beginning to pick up steam on the specific issue of NIL,” said Sen. Justin Ready, a Maryland Republican who sponsored the legislation. “The NCAA has dragged its feet for so long on this issue. It makes no sense to me why a student athlete can’t earn money based on their name, image and likeness.”

California was the first state to approve a law allowing athletes to receive NIL compensation, but its law does not take effect until 2023. Several states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and New Mexico, are set to go into effect July 1.
Action by state legislatures has put pressure on finding national response to avoid a patchwork of state laws.

In March, NCAA President Mark Emmert told The New York Times he would recommend that college sports’ governing bodies approve new rules “before, or as close to, July 1,” when the new laws are scheduled to go into effect in those five states.

Bipartisan legislation also is pending in Congress to address the issue.

While the health provisions in Maryland take effect this year, the NIL provisions don’t take effect until 2023 in the state.

“We set the start date out pretty far on this so we can adapt if we need to,” Ready said.

  • Here is a look at some other legislation Hogan signed Tuesday:
    Maryland has repealed the Civil War-era song “Maryland, My Maryland” as the official state song. The song, written in 1861, is a Civil War-era call to arms for the Confederacy that was adopted as the state song in 1939. Maryland lawmakers have tried to get rid of it since 1974. Hogan described the song as “a relic of the Confederacy that is clearly outdated and out of touch.”
  • Maryland will continue a practice allowed to help businesses during the pandemic and allow restaurants, bars, and taverns to sell and deliver certain alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption or delivery for the next two years.