Maryland lawmakers and the state’s citizenry themselves have had quite the interesting relationship, particularly in the 20th century and beyond. Nuances in the law have seemingly been wrangled over for some 75 years, as each new form of betting to come down the pike is tested, twisted and refined.
As for football in Maryland, nuances don’t exist. This state loves its football and, considering the way local fandom has weathered political storms and has lovingly adopted each team based in Baltimore regardless of league or quality of play, Baltimore could very well be the single greatest football city in the world.
Betting in Maryland
Crucial to laws on betting in Maryland is a frankly bizarre provision in the state constitution which allows regulation and legalization of vice to be enacted on a county basis. At any point may a given county choose to allow the opening of a casino, poker room, racino, etc., by legislating the entity into existence.
In practice, we’ve seen how this works. In hopes of boosting the tourist industry after World War II and hoping to draw money from Baltimore and D.C., county-level lawmakers got to work on bringing slot machines to their area. (Kinda miraculous it didn’t happen sooner, given the freedom to act locally…) One-armed bandits and other betting games were allowed by Anne Arundel (in 1943), St. Mary’s (1947), Calvert (1947), Charles (1949) and Prince George (1949) Counties.
In 1950, as the federal government cracked down on gambling mostly controlled by organized crime, a ban on the transportation of betting machines across state lines was enacted. To solve the issue, Maryland simply provided a Reno-based slot machine manufacturer a cut-rate price on property and bingo (so to speak) – No more interstate transportation of gambling machines! A Chicago-based manufacturer followed suit in ’58 and also relocated to Maryland.
But that same year, state lawmakers stepped in to curb betting activity a bit. River-based gambling was illegalized first; and Charles County legislators limited the size of any would-be gaming parlors. In 1963, then-governor David Hume banned slot machines. An effort by some counties to switch the machines over to prize-only winnings was to no avail, as this exception was also stricken from the law.
Nearly immediately, the rolling back of the rollback began. In 1971, state- and/or charity-sponsored betting games, i.e. the Maryland lottery mostly, were allowed in 10 counties. Year 2008 saw the legalization of “video lottery terminals”, a.k.a. video slot machines.
For NFLbets’ purposes, the biggest recent move in Maryland came in 2012. State legislators became the first in the nation to pass a statewide law addressing daily fantasy sports, and this law makes betting on DFS 100% legal in the state – or does it…?
See, even though the law in question is specifically worded to “exempt daily fantasy sports competitions with an entry fee” from other default bans on betting games because DFS “reflect[s] the relative skill of the participants.”, some find room for debate. In a 22-page opinion released in January 2016, state attorney general Brian Frosh opines that “that the 2012 law should have been the subject of a referendum, but acknowledge that there are legitimate counter-arguments and that it is unclear how a court would rule if asked to address the matter. As such, we believe that the General Assembly should take up this issue to make legislative intentions known and to clear up ambiguity.”
Frosh’s wishes may not be fulfilled soon. In the very first week of 2017, the state comptroller implemented statewide regulations and rules for income reportage; reportedly, *12* separate fantasy providers registered with the state in 2016.
Football in Maryland
Technically, Maryland is currently home to two NFL teams: The Baltimore Raverns, of course, but also the “Washington, D.C.” football team which plays in Landover. But quite frankly, that team doesn’t deserve a mention due to the mascot name and its execrable dumbass owner. Instead, NFLbets’ll focus on Baltimore which, all things considered, could well be considered the greatest pro football city ever.
While most folks associate “Baltimore Colts” with the legendary teams of the 1950s led by all-time great Johnny Unitas at quarterback, but the first iteration of the Colts was founded in 1947 with another Hall of Famer at the helm: Y.A. Tittle. That team began play in the All-American Football Conference (AAFC) and ultimately joined the NFL for the ’50 season. Unfortunately, the team had little success in either league, going just 11-40-1 cumulative in four seasons. Despite the fact that the Colts’ attendance was comparable with any NFL team’s, management not for the first time let Baltimore down in incompetence and the team folded.
The Baltimore Colts were back in 1953, and the hiring of Weeb Ewbank as head coach would prove crucial to Colts (and NFL) history. Slowly he assembled the NFL’s first truly high-flying aerial attack, with an offense that included fullback Alan Ameche, back Lenny Moore and TE Raymond Berry among others to whom Unitas could throw. In ’58, the team payed in what many still consider the greatest game ever, and what sports historians see as the beginning of the NFL’s nationwide popularity: The famed Championship Game of 1958.
The Colts won that title and the next, but wouldn’t win the East division again until 1964, as the New York Giants tended to dominate. Don Shula had taken the coaching reigns in ’63, leading the team to a combined 71-23-4 (a .724 winning percentage) and one Super Bowl appearance (in a loss to Joe Namath’s “guaranteed” New York Jets, but still). Ironic that, after bringing the Baltimore Colts so many Ws, Super Bowl V was won by Unitas and the Colts the season after Shula’s departure.
Aaaaaaaand then came the losing. From the Super Bowl V win through 1977, the Colts went 1-4 in four playoff “runs.” This was followed by six seasons of 26-62-1 (.292, or about 5-11) ball, bottoming out with the 2-14 ’81 Colts and the 0-8-1 Colts of the strike-shortened ’82 season – even their scabs were bad in those days, it seems.
Through the mediocrity and owner Jim Irsay’s refusal to, likesay, spend money on player salaries, fans continued attending, albeit not in droves more to Irsay’s liking. Irsay began the game of chicken now standard to anyone who was noticed taxpayers footing the bills for billion-dollar stadiums and/or losing their teams in the 21st century. When Maryland lawmakers not only refused to have the people pay out this cash but to go so far as to threaten seizure of the current property and team (!) under eminent domain laws, Irsay went from chicken to chickenshit. In his infamous “Midnight Run,” Irsay contracted two 18-wheelrs from out of state to have all Baltimore Colts gear, equipment and whatever else was movable shipped by road to Indianapolis, where the team would play the 1984 season.
So devoted were the people of Baltimore to the game of football that, dickish franchise owner and weasly NFL owners complicit in the screwing of Maryland, that certain Sunday football traditions survived without the actual football. The NFL’s last marching band, that supporting the Colts, continued playing, as in ESPN’s And The Band Played On.
In 1986, William Donald Schaefer ran for governor of Maryland representing the Democratic party; a primary plank in his platform was his devotion to returning the NFL to Baltimore and was elected twice based in no small part on his steadfastness to the cause. After all, he was mayor of Baltimore back in ’84…
And then there were the Baltimore Stallions, home to one of the greatest pro football teams that America forgot. See, back in the 1990s, owners in the Canadian Football League hit upon a get-rich-quick scheme: Expansion of the league through franchise licensure fees. Of course, with the home country relatively poor in major markets, the CFL turned southward. From 1993 to ‘’95, one to five teams in the CFL were based in the US, and the Stallions were by far the most successful.
Ownership of the Baltimore franchise won fans over even before playing a game by announcing the team name as the “CFL Colts” and introducing a wild horse logo. Assholes that they are, the NFL threatened a lawsuit over the name and thus the team played as the Baltimore CFLers for their first season of 1994. In that first season, the Colts got all the way to the Grey Cup, albeit with special roster and field-size consideration given to all US teams. The rechristened Stallions took the Grey Cup the following season with what is considered one of the greatest CFL teams ever and which will likely be the only US team ever to win the ’Cup.
Even more important than the greatness of the Stallions, however, was the fandom they drew. In the two seasons, average attendance was 35,000 or higher at a time when the average game in Canada brought out 22,500. Some Maryland fans loved the Canadian game so much that two decades later, they’re still making annual treks to Canada for championship weekend. Certainly did the Stallions popularity indicate one great football fanbase in Maryland.
So did the NFL return to Baltimore, though admittedly rather obnoxiously, in 1996 by having the cheaped-out Cleveland Browns relocate. Awesomely naming the team the Ravens in reference to famous former resident Edgar Allen Poe, the Ravens set the modern trend by wiping the team record book clean and proclaiming itself a brand-new NFL franchise. Happily for Maryland’s truly fantastic football fans, the Ravens have been reasonably consistently successful, with two Super Bowl wins to their credit. Unfortunately in the short team, elite/not elite QB Joe Flacco has Kobe’d this term in the short term with his monstrous contract, thus probably inducing mediocrity-at-best through to, likesay, at least 2025.
At the college level, Maryland is home to two top-division teams. Naturally, the University of Maryland has fielded a team since the 19th century (1888, to be exact), and the Terrapins have a fair amount of highlights in their history, including 11 conference championships, 26 bowl appearances going into the 2018 season, and the national championship title of 1953.
But. Nearly all college football program histories in America pale in comparison to that of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. The Army-Navy game alone is enough of a celebrated rivalry to claim its own spot on the calendar, akin to the Super Bowl or the BCS national championship game. Having occupied so much space with Baltimore professional football, NFLbets won’t belabor the point about the amazing history of Navy Midshipmen football.
So we’ll do it as briefly as possible. Navy started play in 1879 and was rapidly a national power. In 1910, the team went 8-0-1, including a 0-0 tie that kept the distinction of an unbeaten, unscored-upon season intact. The Midshipmen’s sole claim to a national title is a real weirdie. To conclude the 1926 season, the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Stanford Cardinals played to a 7-7 tie in the Rose Bowl (then the sole bowl game). Thus did NCAA officials proclaim a *three-way* title shared among Stanford (who had gone 10-0-1), Alabama (9-0-1) and Navy (9-0-1).
Navy assembled some particularly outstanding teams in the early 1940s “thanks” to heavy enlistment due to, you know, the war. The post-war period naturally saw a bottoming out for Midshipmen teams, however, as the G.I. Bill and new athletic scholarship programs resulted in football programs blossoming nearly everywhere else. From 1946 to ‘’51, the team was a cumulative 10-40-4 (.227), including the winless 1948 season.
By 1957, Navy football was back to prominence, winning the ’58 Cotton Bowl and finishing the season ranked no. 5 in the nation. The team has gone through its ups and downs since, though tradition demands attention. In the 1964 Cotton Bowl, Navy and its Heisman Trophy-winning/future Dallas Cowboys stud QB Roger Staubach faced off against the unbeaten, top-ranked Texas Longhorns but were turned away, 28-6, and finished no. 2 overall in the rankings.
Nationally-ranked seasons would prove elusive for sometime after that for the Midshipmen, but the 21st century has seen some return to prominence. In 2004, the team went 10-2 and finished with a no. 24 rank. At present, head coach Ken Niumatalolo has the Shipmen playing some great football, with two consecutive seasons going 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference and a no. 18 finish for 2016.
Betting on football in Maryland
Right now, you’re certainly free to engage in betting on daily fantasy football in Maryland, and calls for temperance to the law are drowned out … so what about proper betting on football? With football literally having history as a political issue and many local politicos unabashedly professing their love of DFS, NFLbets’d figure that, when the NFL okays betting, Maryland gets legalized and regulated betting on football. Why is Maryland so bound to the NFL’s say-so?
Check this out. The NBA has soon forward-thinking, taking the proactive lead in getting betting on sports – at least in NBA markets – regulated and freely available. We could very well see widespread NBA-centered betting contests well before the stodgy and conservative NFL ownership moves on the issue. This is particularly importantly because Maryland is only one of two states in the US which hosts an NFL team but not an NBA team (the other is Washington). With Baltimore/Maryland also bereft of a hockey team, one can see how the NFL can levy such influence.
Then again, county to county, right…?