Breaking the Internet, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan placed the first legal sports bet in the United States Friday afternoon in Baltimore at William Hill’s sports book and claimed he “probably bet on the Ravens” and the Washington “Redskins” during the recent Super Bowl.
“It feels pretty good,” Hogan told reporters. “In the past, I gambled more on sports but this is, finally, legally, you can do it.”
Many sports betting establishments were closed for the summer due to the NBA lockout. But with the new NFL season just days away, the nation’s first legal sports books have opened in five states, with Alabama set to join them Monday when the state’s Supreme Court lifts a two-year ban on the activity.
Three additional states — Delaware, Mississippi and New Jersey — are set to allow sports betting before the year is out.
“We’re thrilled to see Governor Hogan make his first bet today and welcome these new legal sports books to our state,” said Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Secretary Carole Everett. “We’re thrilled for Marylanders to be able to place legally bet in the game of sports that has always been one of our favorite pastimes.”
Hogan was in Baltimore to announce that his administration had reached a deal with the Marylanders United for Marriage Coalition to advance its legal appeal of a state Senate decision in June 2014 that allowed same-sex marriage. But he said he’d “likely” be back for the state’s first legal sports bet when the Redskins and Ravens play each other next week.
While betting is legal in four states and Washington, D.C., illegal sports books were already flourishing in Maryland and elsewhere. Up until last year, Maryland didn’t have laws on the books to regulate sports betting, and out-of-state options were almost impossible to find. But that changed last September, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that limited wagering to just four states, allowing for all 50 states to get in on the action.
Nearly a year later, Maryland is the fifth state — after Delaware, Nevada, Mississippi and New Jersey — to allow legal sports betting, and is the only one which operates the games in-house.
Several analysts estimate there is as much as $400 million in illegal sports betting activity in the U.S. each year, and Hogan said he also expects much of that would flow toward the state’s coffers.
“I think it’s going to make our state millions of dollars, not only in tax revenue,” Hogan said. “But we think it’s going to make a pretty big splash.”
Hogan said he first considered and then signed a bill in March allowing the state to regulate and tax the industry. He said one of the top economic development goals is to “bring some jobs.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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