Miller, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) had all expressed support late last year for legislation to approve sports betting, so that Maryland would not lag behind other states who are legalizing the practice.
But Miller said Thursday that the office of Attorney General Brian K. Frosh (D) told legislative leaders that the only way for Maryland to expand gambling is to amend the state constitution, which requires a public referendum.
Because there are no statewide elections in Maryland this year, the earliest that could happen is 2020. The Senate president said this year that all referendums should be approved in the General Assembly the same year they would go on the ballot.
Last spring, the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a ban that kept states, with the exception of Nevada, from allowing sports betting. In addition to the District, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Mexico have since legalized sports betting.
“Everybody’s got a head start: Las Vegas, New Jersey . . . it’s very unfortunate,” Miller said.