In May 2020, Maryland made two major moves in the sports world: it legalized sports betting and passed a law allowing college athletes to profit from their names, images, and likeness.
HB 940 legalizes sports betting and provides a framework for the industry to operate. It allows for in-person betting, including at major Maryland sports stadiums belonging to the Baltimore Orioles and the Baltimore Ravens. It also provides licenses for mobile and online sports wagering.
SB 439 allows college athletes to profit from their names, images, and likeness (NIL). This has been a point of contention with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), whose rules prohibit athletes from earning money off their names, images, and likeness. The NCAA plans to vote on athletes’ NIL rights in the very near future. Maryland is the latest state to pass such legislation ahead of any action by the NCAA.
The newly enacted laws will likely have a major impact in Maryland, both in the sports world and beyond. HB 940 anticipates over $15 million a year in revenue, which will support education and be used to help small, minority owned and women-owned businesses. SB 439 may encourage the NCAA to revisit their policy on college athletes’ abilities to profit from their names, images, and likeness.
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of the student-athletes over the NCAA in their antitrust suit regarding compensation restrictions, NCAA v. Alston, the NCAA may feel even more pressure to revise their rules regarding student-athletes’ NIL rights.
Takeaway: We will have to wait and see if more states follow Maryland by legalizing sports betting and allowing their athletes to profit off themselves. Or, perhaps the federal government will step in and pass legislation to legalize sports betting and protect college athletes’ individual rights. Congress has introduced legislation for college athletes’ name, image, and likeness rights. Either way, states are not waiting for the federal government or the NCAA to make their own moves.