By Rick Ritter

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s a question that has everyone talking. Should sports betting become legal in Maryland?

The idea is quickly gaining momentum as Maryland is just the latest state to eye new legislation.

This is the first step in what will be a lengthy process. It’s hard to imagine all six casinos wouldn’t like to cash in. It’s been one of the hottest trends for years that never seems to fizzle out.

Sports betting continues to explode with popularity, raking in millions nationwide.

“Got a lot of states right now interested in legalizing and regulating sports betting,” says Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for America Gaming Association.

One of those states is Maryland as new legislation surfaced Thursday. A bill that if introduced, would form a task force to study sports betting. They’ll then make recommendations on how to regulate. The legislature, governor and a voter referendum would all have to approve. Then casinos and racetracks could apply for sports licenses.

“Definitely a great step forward for the state of Maryland,” says Slane.

Experts say with billions of dollars being wagered on sports illegally every year, casinos like the ones in Maryland are missing out on some serious cash.

The last Super Bowl had $4.7 billion total wagered, 97% of that number, was wagered illegally.

“Recapturing some of that revenue and tax revenue that certainly the states are not getting right now, as well as jobs would be a boom for state of Maryland,” says Slane.

Sports betters we spoke with in Baltimore are on board, but want to make sure the kickback benefits the City.

“Pretty popular, especially us, especially when it come to football,” Marquise Hayes Jr. says. “I think they should definitely do it that’s a good idea.”

“That’s more revenue, you can do anything with the revenue,” Tavon Winder says.

Ultimately a lot needs to happen, still looking at a 2-4 year process. The federal law would have to be overturned for Maryland to have sports books.

While the idea is still up for debate, Maryland was the first state to officially legalize paid-entry fantasy sports.

Learn more HERE.

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