eSports Legislation in Maryland

On January 19, 2018, Maryland House Bill 283 was introduced by Republican Delegate Robin Grammer. The bill exempts competitive video games, known as eSports, from the state’s laws banning wagering and gambling. “eSports” is defined as video games such as first-person shooters, real-time strategy games, and multiplayer online battle arenas in which:

  1. players compete against each other;
  2. plays are not randomly generated by the video game console or another device and;
  3. the dominant element determining the results is the relative skill of the players.

The bill would allow players in Maryland to participate in video game competitions and tournaments, in their homes or at organized events, for prizes. The bill also would authorize the state comptroller to adopt certain regulations governing these types of video game competitions.

Grammer noted, “Maryland lags behind the majority of states in that it is illegal to participate in eSports even as a participant in your own home. Maryland needs to act now so that competitive video game players have an equal footing to participants from other states.”

The director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency Gordon Medenica further noted, “The bill’s intention is to draw a distinction between participant activity, which would be allowed, and organized commercial spectator or gambler eSports events, which would remain prohibited.” Medenica said the agency has no objection to this bill and “would also support legalization of the larger commercial events for our casinos.”

The bill is currently pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.

If you have any questions regarding this legislation or any other skill-gaming/eSports issue, please contact Karl Rutledge at krutledge@lrrc.com.

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