A sportsbook in Las Vegas. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

As the Maryland General Assembly considers a handful of bills to legalize sports gambling, a new Goucher Poll shows support among Marylanders is lukewarm at best.

By a slim margin, people said they would like to have wagers placed online or through an app rather than a physical sportsbook at a casino, racetrack or stadium. Forty-seven percent of respondents support online sports wagering, while 43 percent oppose.

There was actually a plurality of opposition to bringing sports gambling to the state’s casinos, racetracks and stadiums. Forty-nine percent were against the idea, while 45 percent were in favor.

The legislature is considering the issue from a number of angles, with at least four bills on file that would legalize some form of sports wagering by voter referendum. Another, Senate Bill 325, which recently cleared the Senate with a 46-1 vote, would restore the legislature’s power to adopt gambling measures.

Two nearly identical bills, Senate Bill 4 and House Bill 225, have received a fiscal and policy note from the Department of Legislative Services. Both would generate more than $20 million annually in new revenue, according to the analyses.

Under both laws, the state would receive 20 percent of gambling revenues to put toward the Education Trust Fund, a $250,000 annual fee from licensees and a one-time $2.5 million fee to apply for the license. Both casinos and racetracks would be eligible to apply.

As the analyses note, three states that border Maryland–West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware–have already legalized sports gambling. Those states have seen revenues increase by more than $2.6 million, $31 million and $10.7 million, respectively.

Washington, D.C. has also legalized sports betting, and officials there project the capital city will make $17.1 million in the 2020 fiscal year–a far cry from the original forecast of $26 million, according to a June 2019 article in The Washington Post.

The Goucher Poll surveyed 713 Marylanders by phone from Feb. 13-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

Brandon Weigel is the managing editor of Baltimore Fishbowl. A graduate of the University of Maryland, he has been published in The Washington Post, The Sun, Baltimore Magazine, Urbanite, The Baltimore...