Maryland Casinos, Gambling, and Law Regulations: An Overview

The origin of gambling in Maryland can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century. The Maryland Jockey Club was established in 1743 and it organized the first race at the Pimlico Race Course. Yet, the legality of betting on horse races wasn’t recognized until 1870.

Before that, another gambling activity was thought of as legal since it was created for a good cause. It was the lottery, in the form of lottery grants, that was meant to fund the church and public works. Although it was held by churches, this type of lottery created a boom among the residents, and, although there weren’t so many churches, there were thousands of so-called lotteries. In 1834, the number was outrageous, which caused the state voters to stop giving new licenses.

In 1952, charitable gambling appeared, followed by the proper state lottery in 1972. Casinos were not officially legal in Maryland until 2008. Since that year, six venues were built in the state, offering all the regular casino games.

In this text, we will take you for a ride through all the crucial points of gambling in Maryland — rules and regulations, current status on available legal forms of land-based and online gambling, as well as the best gambling facilities. Therefore, buckle up, and let’s start.

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Gambling Laws in Maryland — The Law Overview

Section 12-102 of the Criminal Code is a vital law according to which gambling in Maryland is regulated. In this part of the Criminal Code, it is stated that placing bets and wagers or making and selling books is illegal. However, the residents of Maryland can enjoy all the regulated types of gambling.

An important thing to have in mind is that the Criminal Code is more related to gambling operators than punters, although people still worry whether or not they will have to face the consequences if they place a bet. Yet, this doubt might be justified, as the law also applies to anyone who decides to run a card game or other type of casino game at home.

Anyone who violates this statute could face a punishment of up to one year in jail and a permanent criminal record when convicted. Also, there is a fine of $1,000 you will be required to pay. This is not something that should be taken lightly, as the police in Baltimore City have the authorization to write criminal gambling citations.

Another prohibition includes keeping a gaming device at home, building or vessel that does not possess a specific state license, including the vessels that can sail internationally. A gaming device is, in this case, a slot machine or a video poker machine.

Breaking this section of the Criminal Code can also send you to jail for a year, and a fine that goes along with it can go up to $500.

Nevertheless, some forms of gambling are legalized in Maryland and people who enjoy this activity can practice it without any worries.

What Forms of Gambling Are Allowed in Maryland?

The oldest form of gambling in Maryland that is still popular and legal is horse racing. At one point in time, Maryland offered horse-racing lovers six tracks. Nowadays, there are only two of them left, where you can take your chances with pari-mutuel betting.

There is also the state lottery that gives you the opportunity to buy lotto tickets and scratch-off cards in any convenience store and win some quick cash.

Charitable gambling is still popular in the Old Line State. It includes games like raffles, bingo, paddlewheels, and wheel of fortune. However, some of the games are strictly regulated, like raffles that can be offered only twice a year. All the charities must be licensed by the local government.

Finally, we’ve come to the part about the casinos and the rules and regulations they must adhere to. Each region in Maryland is allowed to accommodate a single gambling operator if they wish to do so. You can currently find a casino in six jurisdictions: Baltimore, Worcester County, Prince George’s County, Allegany County, Cecil County, and Anne Arundel County.

The games you will find in all these casinos follow the standards and include slots, video poker, live poker, Texas Hold’em, blackjack, roulette, baccarat craps, and some variations of card games.

Daily Fantasy Sports wagering has had some ups and downs in Maryland. Today, players can enjoy this type of online gambling through a few popular sites. Placing bets on online racing is also available if you do it via online platforms with valid state and federal license.

We have already mentioned that Maryland is quite strict with penalties for illegal gambling. Moreover, the possession of a gambling device is another topic, and the definition of it is extensive. Section 12-101(d) defines a gambling device as:

“a gaming table, except a billiard table, at which a game of chance is played for money or any other thing or consideration of value; or a game or device at which money or any other thing or consideration of value is bet, wagered, or gambled.”

This definition is broad and can relate to any electronic device, from a desktop computer to a smartphone. On the other hand, there’s no proof that any bettor has been prosecuted for online gambling so far.

Relying on this belief, residents of Maryland often visit offshore online gambling operators, as plenty of them gladly accept US players.

Where to Gamble in Maryland?

There are six casinos in Maryland and two operating racetracks at the moment. We have done some research and highlighted the best options for gambling in the state.

Live! Casino & Hotel

This Casino offers everything you could possibly need, along with an outstanding list of games. You can choose from more than 4,000 gaming machines, 52 poker tables and many other options. One of the largest casinos in the state is open 24/7 every day, and it also offers accommodation, as you can conclude from the name itself. If you already have a place to stay, at least try some of the dining options or maybe visit an event or a show taking place there. You can find Live! Casino & Hotel at 7002 Arundel Mills Cir #7777, Hanover, MD 21076,

Rocky Gap Casino

This casino is also a resort where you will find more than just a gambling venue. It includes a hotel that you can visit for a romantic getaway and a golf course for a relaxing weekend with friends. Lake Habeeb that is adjacent to the resort gives space for some water activities like fishing or renting boats, canoes and kayaks. The casino itself offers slots, table games, and lottery, as well as great bars and restaurants. The address is 16701 Lakeview Road Northeast, Flintstone, Maryland.

MGM National Harbor.

MGM National Harbor Hotel & Casino is the newest of all brick-and-mortar gambling venues in the state. Once you visit it, you will find it hard to leave, as both the hotel and casino got you covered on so many levels. The casino is filled with around 3,500 gaming machines, 46 poker tables and 124 gaming tables. If you decide to come with someone who is not that into gambling, don’t worry, as there are plenty of activities one can do here. There is The Theater, bars, clubs, a pool and spa, as well as many dining options that can satisfy all your cravings. The establishment can be found at 101 MGM National Avenue, Oxon Hill, MD 20745.


Are casinos legal in Maryland?

Yes, casinos are legal in Maryland. There are six of them, and each is located in a different region, which is convenient for the residents of all parts of the state.

Is online gambling legal in Maryland?

When in Maryland, the only type of online gambling that is officially legal is wagering on Daily Fantasy Sports. Other online gambling activities, apart from Daily Fantasy Sports, are not particularly mentioned anywhere in the legal documents.

What games can you gamble on in Maryland?

Legal forms of gambling in Maryland include the state lottery, bingo games, pari-mutuel betting on horses and casino games in one of Maryland’s several gambling establishments.

What is the legal gambling age for players in Maryland?

The legal gambling age for players in Maryland for bingo, lottery games, and pari-mutuel betting is 18, while for casino-style games you need to be at least 21 years old.

Who regulates legal forms of gambling in Maryland?

The legality of gambling in Maryland is regulated according to the Criminal Code.