ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Maryland High Schools may soon have to adopt a gambling addiction curriculum, depending on the fate of a law in law.
SB0243, sponsored by Senator Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, is instructing the Maryland Department of Education to develop a program for local schools to teach students the dangers of gambling.
Local school districts would have the option of using an existing gambling curriculum or creating a new curriculum, according to Simonaire.
“From a government policy perspective, the state receives money from gambling revenue that can be used to help other priorities in our state, but it also allows many citizens to become addicted to gambling, which creates other problems for the state,” he told Capital News Service.
Simonaire cited numerous studies to argue the need for education about the risks of gambling.
Several studies have shown that people between the ages of 18 and 34 are at the highest risk of developing gambling addiction.
According to the Victorian Responsible Gambling Foundation in Australia, the risk of gambling addiction is higher among people in lower socioeconomic classes and increases the earlier they start gambling in adolescence.
The Maryland Health Department is increasing its gambling addiction treatment revenue through the Problem Gambling Fund.
Annual payments of $ 425 per slot machine and $ 500 per table game go to this fund each year under Maryland law.
Simonaire expressed support for these funds but said there should be increased focus on educating young people before they become addicted.
Simonaire proposed a similar bill last year, which was passed almost unanimously by the Senate, but was not put to the vote in the House of Representatives due to the premature end of the legislative period as part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Simonaire, this year’s bill is identical to the revised version from last year.
“I worked very hard to get consensus among stakeholders,” he told Capital News Service. “At this point in time, I believe there will be no opposition to the bill this year.”
Two lawmakers spoke out against Simonaire’s bill last year: Senator Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George, and Senator Cheryl Kagan, D-Montgomery.
Kagan told Capital News Service that she would again oppose the bill this year.
“It’s a widely held philosophy that the state shouldn’t mandate curriculum requirements for our 24 local school systems,” she told Capital News Service. “Our local education authorities were chosen to represent their communities and are best equipped to set the curriculum for students in their county.”
Pinsky, chairman of the Education, Health and Environment Committee, did not respond to an opinion on whether he would speak out against the bill again.
Simonaire told the committee during a meeting on Wednesday that the Maryland Association of Boards of Education would no longer oppose his bill like it did last year.
However, some local school districts are still reluctant to adopt a nationally required curriculum.
The Baltimore City School Commissioners and Anne Arundel County’s Public School System each had a spokesman testify against the bill last year.
A spokesperson for each group told Capital News Service that they will again reject the bill this year.
Baltimore City School Commissioners gave the Capital News Service a written testimony against this year’s bill, stating that the school system does not want a new, mandatory curriculum to devote time to other health issues such as opioids, abuse, consent and healthy eating.
Maryland has a long history of gambling that dates back to the local popularity of the centuries-old tradition of horse racing.
Horse racing became legal in Maryland in 1870 and, according to Maryland Matters, regulations were enacted in 1912.
The regulation of modern forms of gambling was introduced in the last few decades: the state lottery was approved in 1972 and the casinos in 2008.
Maryland voters voted in favor of legalized sports betting on the November ballot on question 2, with the result that state revenues will be used for education.
Simonaire told Capital News Service that he hopes his bill will be voted on in the Senate by the end of January.
If passed, the local curriculum will be taught in the 2022–2023 school year according to the draft law.