Top 10 US states most likely to legalize sports betting in 2019
By Dan Ippolito
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was unconstitutional back in May, seven states (New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Mexico) have joined Nevada in offering legalized sports betting.
As we enter 2019, many other states are taking action to move toward legalizing it for themselves. Here, we look at the states that are most likely to do so within the year.
In late January and early February of last year, several bills were introduced in Illinois to create the Sports Wagering Act and allow sports betting in the state.
Representative Lou Lang introduced one of the bills and understood that there would need to be several drafts in order to get it correct. He held off on showing his next draft until the new General Assembly was in place.
Obviously, some main concerns for Illinois to consider are where sports betting will be allowed and how to ensure security for mobile sports betting. But despite these questions, the ball is rolling for Illinois.
This state has a more unique angle with a bill that was proposed back in December.
Proposed by State Senator Denny Hoskins, this bill would authorize gambling boat casinos to offer sports betting. It also allows players who are physically in Missouri to participate in online sports wagering if they set up an account at one of the approved gaming facilities.
The effective date in Sen. Hoskins’ bill is 28 August 2019, right before the start of the NFL season.
8. New Hampshire
Earlier this month, Representative Tim Lang introduced a bill to allow both land-based and mobile sports betting in the Granite State.
A hearing will be held on Thursday in front of the Ways and Means Committee, where this bill could be advanced to the House floor. If it is not moved forward, there will likely be revisions made quickly to ensure that it is. Either way, the likelihood of sports betting in New Hampshire has taken a huge leap with the introduction of Rep. Lang’s bill.
Back in May, Governor Chris Sununu stated he is supportive of legalizing sports betting in New Hampshire.
In November, Senator Julian Carroll unveiled a revised version of the sports betting bill originally filed in 2017. The bill would include gambling on both college and professional sports and would also include a heavy tax rate of 3% of the handle along with a $250,000 initial licensing fee.
In January, two more bills were introduced to continue the push for sports gambling in Kentucky. These bills would allow sports betting as well as daily fantasy sports and online poker.
While there are other focuses in Kentucky, sports betting still seems to be a high priority with a bright future in sight.
In February 2018, the push for legalizing sports gambling in Maryland continued with the introduction of a bill that is pretty straightforward and simple. It calls for Maryland casinos and racetracks to accept bets on sports games from participants as long as they are 21 years old.
With most surrounding states proposing sports betting laws, combined with the support of the governor, Maryland seems to be on the fast track for legalizing sports betting.
Representative Brandt Iden's Lawful Internet Gaming Act passed in December, and he's now turning his attention to doing the same for sports betting.
Revisions may be made to Iden’s bill before it comes into play in order to include sports betting, allowing all of it to be approved and take effect at once.
The National Indian Gaming Association has already said it backs the legalization of sports betting. While that may not help some states, Michigan has 23 Native American casinos, so the support is something that could really help move this process along.
In 2017, a bill was signed by outgoing Governor Dannel Malloy to enact a sports betting law. Not much was done with this bill, and it was reintroduced at the end of January.
Malloy left office in January and now must rely on his successors to finish what he started.
The reason the state never made any progress with Gov. Malloy’s action was the concern that it violated the tribes’ state compacts with Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino. The tribes believe they have exclusive rights to run sports gambling in Connecticut, but according to lawmakers, that is not the case.
However, despite a long period of no action or progress, 2019 has already seen more happen in the opening month than in all of 2018.
The push for legalized sports wagering in Arkansas is strong. On 6 November 2018, voters in Arkansas were 54% in favor of the amendment to bring such betting to four counties in the state.
What’s next for Arkansas? Well, for the next few months, there won’t be too much to report. The aim is to have regulators begin accepting license applications in June. If all goes to plan, we could see several Arkansas locations applying for sports betting licenses and see it up and running by the summer.
Massachusetts had been pretty dormant with talks on sports betting. However, in the last few weeks, things have really started to take shape.
On 17 January, Governor Charlie Baker announced plans to file legislation that would permit people in Massachusetts to wager on professional sports, both in existing land-based casinos and online. Several other bills were introduced at the time as well.
Senator James Welch (D-Hampden) introduced SD 882, which would authorize provisions for retail land-based sports betting as well as mobile sports betting, with a tax rate of 6.75% on sports betting revenue for establishments that hold a Category 1 or Category 2 license.
Senator Bruce Tarr (R-Essex and Middlesex) introduced SD 908, which would create a study of 11 individuals to explore the different aspects of legal sports betting in Massachusetts.
Senator Michael Rush’s (D-Suffolk-Norfolk) proposal (SD.1110) would offer royalty fees to the professional sports leagues, and sportsbooks would also be forced to purchase official betting data from the leagues.
Finally, Senator Brendan Crighton (D-Essex) filed a separate bill that would call for both mobile and land-based sports wagering, but the two would not have to be connected. Bill SD 903 would not allow wagering on college sports.
Massachusetts has really made a push, all at once, to legalize sports betting. With Encore Boston Harbor expected to open just outside Boston in June and MGM Springfield opening its doors this past August, it is a good time to have sports betting for these two casinos.
1. New York
Last week was a major week for sports betting in New York.
On 29 January, the New York State Gaming Commission approved several sports betting regulations that will allow four casinos in upstate New York to build sportsbooks and offer sports wagering, possibly as soon as this spring.
The four casinos are Tioga Downs Casino; Rivers Casino & Resort Schenectady; del Lago Resort & Casino; and Resorts World Catskills, the $1.2 billion resort casino that celebrated its grand opening early last year.
As far as mobile sports betting goes, a bill was introduced by five New York lawmakers that will create a task force to study mobile sports betting.
The next step in this process is a 60-day period for public comments, which will then be edited and sent to the commission for the final vote.
We could see these regulations put into place as early as April and in time for NHL and NBA playoffs.
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