Maryland introduces new eSports law
Competitions and tournaments are now legal in the Free State
Maryland has become the latest state to fully embrace eSports and legitimize the activity. A state law has been signed that allows competitions and tournaments in the state to offer real money and merchandise as prizes. Legalizing eSports gives it more substance and the approval of House Bill 48 (HB 48) occurred before the state could get its head wrapped around another popular activity – sports gambling.
HB 48 takes effect today and follows soon after the completion of the Overwatch League Grand Finals in Philadelphia, PA. That tournament was won by the San Francisco Shock, who took home the grand prize of $1.1 million. Now, Marylanders can look forward to similar competitions with equal or more prize money up for grabs.
The world of eSports is growing rapidly and expected to be worth billions of dollars by the time 2019 wraps up. The new laws were established to provide the legal framework necessary to roll out the activity, while keeping it completely separate from sports gambling.
Sports gambling will only be possible via a public vote, which won’t happen until next year, at the earliest. Any bill supporting the activity has to be passed during the same year it is expected to be put on the ballot, so it will be January before any real progress is made to push the topic further. However, four bills have already been introduced and lawmakers are trying to figure out how best to address some of the concerns, such as how to combat potential gambling addiction, before more progress can be made.