When Will Betting in U.S. Sports Finally Be Legalized

Date Created: Aug 21
Written by Jerico

Ever since the undisputed Supreme Court decision on May 14, 2018, that ruled to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) — a 1992 federal law that had basically barred single-game sports betting to Nevada and its famed Las Vegas sportsbooks — legislation to authorize sports betting has either passed or is pending in 13 states.

More than two dozen other states are preparing to either consider such legislation or to trigger new laws already on the books. By the end of this year, bills are being considered in at least 35 states, according to Gambling Compliance, which is an industry research and consulting company. By the year 2024, the firm projects that as many as 40 states could already permit sports gambling.

Based on population, roughly half of Americans will reside in states that have some kind of sports betting by the end of next year. By the end of 2018, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia had already given the green light to legal sports betting. The expansion helped bolster total industry-wide revenue from legal and regulated sports betting to an estimated $430.2 million in 2018, up almost 65% from $261.3 million in 2017, according to figures from the American Gaming Association’s annual “State of the States” survey of the nation’s commercial casino industry.

That reflects just the six months after the expiry of PASPA, so revenue should jump exponentially in this and the years to come. So far this year, the Legal Sports Betting’s most recent calculations indicate that over $4.4 billion in handle and almost $259 million in revenue has already been generated.

Since PASPA was abolished, every licensed sportsbook has accrued, for an overall handle of more than $8 billion, according to Legal Sports Betting. Sportsbooks in that time, have kept more than $500 million, before paying over $60 million in taxes to their respective states and cities.

Getting there can be difficult, though. Each state’s legislature must figure own rules and regulations governing on-site — commercial and tribal casinos, racetracks, lottery vendors — online and mobile sports wagering, and define licensing fees and tax rates paid by operators. In some situations, a public vote or constitutional amendment may even be needed.

So where does the country now stand? What states are already in business and how are they doing? Which states are on the verge of going online? And what states are on still trying to figure things out whether or not they should legalize sports betting?

In our desire to give you clear-cut answers, we have gathered a comprehensive look at all 50 states with estimated legalization dates for every state.

Arkansas (Only physical sportsbooks)

Legal sports betting in Arkansas officially launched on July 1, 2019, at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

Voters approved a gaming expansion bill on November 2018, and Oaklawn was the first casino to be declared legal by the state. Expect more sportsbooks to launch ahead of football season. Sports betting in Arkansas is all over-the-counter, meaning there’s no mobile wagering whatsoever.

Delaware (Only physical sportsbooks)

Was the first legal state after the Supreme Court’s ruling, before New Jersey. But Delaware’s lack of mobile betting and its decision to have the lottery run the show have put it far behind New Jersey in terms of betting volume. The betting handle was $10.5 million in March 2019.

Illinois (Recently legal; no betting yet)

Illinois legislature went through an extended weekend session in early June, to get its sports betting bill to the finish line this year. When Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 28, many expected the state would be up and running in time for football, but in an Aug. 8 meeting, the Illinois Gaming Board gave no indication of when sports betting will launch.

Indiana (Recently legal; no betting yet)

Signed into law on May 8. According to a recent report, the state’s gaming commission is expected to ratify regulations by August 28, making a pre-NFL-season launch a possibility. Hammond Horseshoe Casino — which sits just two miles inside the Indiana-Illinois border and 16 miles away from Chicago — has said it expects for its retail operation to be up and running by the NFL’s Sept. 4 opener.

Iowa (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

Signed into law on May 13, and started accepting bets on Aug. 15. Eight of the 19 casinos in Iowa launched on August 15, Eighteen of the 19 casinos in Iowa have been approved for a license to accept sports bets, and they can launch as soon as August 15.

Mississippi (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

Has mobile betting, but, similar to Montana, it’s very constricting, only permitted while inside a casino. The betting handle was $32.4 million in March 2019.

Montana (Recently legal; no betting yet)

Signed into law on May 3. The state lottery will oversee everything. Bettors will be able to place a wager inside licensed bars and restaurants via kiosks or on their phone, but mobile betting will not work outside of those bars and restaurants. The stated goal is to have things up and running by football season.

Nevada (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

Full mobile as long as you’re within the state’s borders. The betting handle was $596.8 million in March 2019, the highest month ever in the history of the state.

New Hampshire (Recently legal; no betting yet)

The NH House officially passed a sports betting bill on June 13, and Gov. Chris Sununu signed it into law on July 12. The first legal wager is expected to be placed in early 2020. There are no casinos or racetracks in New Hampshire, but the proposed law would allow for up to 10 retail sportsbook locations and five mobile operators.

New Jersey (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

The closest version to Nevada we’ve seen since the Supreme Court’s ruling a year ago. Both residents and non-residents can place wagers via their phones, so long as they’re within the state’s borders. New Jersey has brought in $2.32 billion in bets in the nine-and-a-half months on record, 80 percent of which have come via mobile.

New Mexico (Only physical sportsbooks)

No bill passed, but Native American tribes have interpreted that their sportsbooks are legal under their state-tribal gaming compacts.

New York (Only physical sportsbooks)

The New York Gaming Commission voted on June 10 to allow in-person betting in four upstate casinos — Resorts World, Rivers Casino, Tioga Downs, and Del Lago — located hundreds of miles away from New York City. Wagering officially launched on July 16.

North Carolina (Recently legal; no betting yet)

North Carolina wasn’t on the radar at the beginning of the year, but a bill easily passed the Senate in April, and on July 15, the same bill passed the House with bipartisan support. It officially became law on July 26, when Gov. Roy Cooper graced the bill with his signature.

The legislation allows for legalized sports wagering in-person at two tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, both of which are located in the western portion of the state, 3-4 hours away from Charlotte and 5-6 hours away from Raleigh.

While the bill does not permit any mobile wagering, the state is expected to launch a gaming commission to study the potential expansion of betting. Perhaps most important to the college-sports-crazed North Carolinians, the bill will allow for betting on college sports teams within the state.

Pennsylvania (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

As of late July, four sportsbooks have launched their mobile betting products in Pennsylvania — FanDuel, SugarHouse, Parx, and Rivers. FanDuel is the only one of the four with its iOS app up and running. All four are live on Android devices. The betting handle was $44.5 million in March 2019.

Rhode Island (Only physical sportsbooks)

Legal betting age is 18, unlike any other state, which is 21. Rhode Island doesn’t have mobile betting yet, but according to a June 10 report, it’s expected to launch before football season. The betting handle was $23.6 million in March 2019.

Tennessee (Recently legal; no betting yet)

Gov. Bill Lee let a sports-betting bill become law without his signature in late May 2019. Tennessee will be the first legal state to offer only online wagering. There will be no physical sportsbooks, as the state doesn’t have any casinos.

Washington D.C. (Recently legal; no betting yet)

The D.C. Council sanctioned a bill in December that would allow for sports betting. It officially became law in late March. The plan was originally to have physical sportsbooks accepting bets by football season, but according to a recent report, operators won’t be able to apply for licenses until September at the earliest, meaning launch is at least a few months away. Mobile betting will not be available until January 2020.

West Virginia (Physical sportsbooks + mobile)

Mobile temporarily suspended due to vendor issues. The betting handle was $17.5 million in March 2019.

Oregon (Existing laws need further clarification)

No bill has passed, but Oregon was one of four states to be grandfathered into legal sports betting prior to the passage of PASPA.

Colorado (Possible referendum required)

Will hit the ballot in November. If it passes, sports betting can be legal by May 2020.

Kansas (Waiting for next legislative session)

The legislature got far down the road before the session ended. Expect quick approvals when it returns in 2020.

Kentucky (Waiting for next legislative session)

Kentucky ran out of time to get something done this year, but given how much gambling on horse racing means to the fabric of the state, expect something to get done next year.

Louisiana (Possible referendum required)

The Louisiana legislature tried to get some steam behind a sports betting bill on May 2019, but the efforts failed in the House.

Maine (Passed legislature, but currently in limbo)

A bill zoomed through the House and Senate on June 19, 2019, as the legislative session neared its end. But Gov. Janet Mills opted not to sign it. Under Maine law, a bill that goes unsigned by the governor automatically becomes law three days into the next legislative session. (Important note: Mills could also choose to veto the bill within those first three days of the next legislative session.)

Massachusetts (Still under consideration by legislature)

While residents have pressured the state to get going, driven by smaller surrounding states having legal sports gambling, Massachusetts isn’t exactly imminent. One bill would allow the state to give out online/mobile licenses without it having to be tied to a land-based casino. That would be a welcome development for DraftKings, which is headquartered in Boston and the No. 1 mobile sportsbook in New Jersey.

Michigan (Still under consideration by legislature)

According to MI Bets, State Representative Brandt Iden is working on the draft of a bill ahead of the July 11 deadline to submit legislation for review. The framework of the bill would allow for sports betting online and in brick-and-mortar casinos.

Missouri (Still under consideration by legislature)

There are a couple of bills in Missouri, some which include what is perceived by many to include fees that would be disadvantageous to operators.

North Dakota (Tribal gaming conflicts)

Two bills were introduced. One failed in the house and one failed in the senate.

Ohio (Still under consideration by legislature)

There are two warring bills with a fight over who would run a sports betting enterprise in the state. Positive? The legislative session goes to the end of the calendar year.

Virginia (Waiting for next legislative session)

West Virginia legalized it and Washington D.C. is now ready to go, but Virginia took a step back on gambling this legislative session, deciding instead to study it.

Alabama (Still under consideration by legislature)

This is all you need to know about Alabama: Its House of Representatives just passed a bill legalizing fantasy leagues in an attempt to reverse what is not allowed by the state constitution.

Arizona (Tribal gaming conflicts)

Will the tribes run sports betting in the state? The tribes themselves can’t even decide if or how they want to be involved, so this is going to take a while to sort itself out.

California (Possible referendum required)

California, which has 17 major pro sports teams and one-fifth of the country’s population, has a double whammy: Legalization would likely require a change to the state constitution, and all gaming is controlled by tribes.

Connecticut (Tribal gaming conflicts)

The toughest opponents to sports gambling continue to be the tribes and Connecticut is no exception. While one remedy is to give the tribes sports gambling, making a new deal comes with complications. In early June 2019, House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said the bill is “proving to be as difficult as I thought it was, going into it,” according to the WWLP News in Connecticut

Florida (Tribal gaming conflicts)

Voters turned down a referendum that would have provided for sports betting in the state, leading some to believe that Florida will be one of the last states in the game. But word is that the powerful Seminole tribe is willing to listen if it can be at the table to control sports gambling, much in the way it controls gaming within the state.

Maryland (Possible referendum required)

The state failed to get anything done this year, which means that it’s next year at best to pass something. Expectations are, if that happens, that actual sports betting doesn’t come until 2021.

Texas (Waiting for next legislative session)

Texas is also one of the few states where fantasy still isn’t even legal. There’s a strong push by some to get sports gambling legalized, though lobbyists might be stronger.

Alaska (Little to no action)

Alaska is pretty much nowhere on sports gambling. The 49th state might actually be the 49th to legalize it.

Georgia (Possible referendum required)

Georgia is quite conservative and an amendment to the state constitution stands in the way of legalizing sports betting.

Hawaii (Little to no action)

One of the most inactive states. A bill was created to study the issue.

Idaho (Little to no action)

State laws as written are currently against gambling, save for horse racing. The state doesn’t allow fantasy.

Minnesota (Tribal gaming conflicts)

The state’s 11 federally recognized tribes do not want an expansion of gaming. That’s an issue.

Nebraska (Possible referendum required)

There’s not too much optimism in Nebraska after the state turned down the right to expand casino gambling at its racetracks years ago.

Oklahoma (Tribal gaming conflicts)

If anything is to happen, it has to go through the tribes.

South Carolina (Possible referendum required)

See Georgia.

South Dakota (Tribal gaming conflicts)

Will go through tribes if a constitutional amendment passes.

Utah (Little to no action)

Sports betting is likely never coming to Utah.

Vermont (Little to no action)

When PASPA was overturned, the executive director of Vermont’s lottery said he didn’t know of a single person who wanted sports betting in the state. Does that sum things up for you?

Washington (Little to no action)

Gambling would first go through the tribes to the legislature, and if it passed, it would allow the tribes to negotiate with the governor. A lot of red tape.

Wisconsin (Tribal gaming conflicts)

State’s constitution prohibits gambling. Tribes are said to want to keep the status quo.

Wyoming (Little to no action)

Three licensed casinos in the entire state. No legislation has even been introduced.