The legalization of sports betting is one of the burning issues in the USA gambling industry. The year-and-a-half has passed since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on this activity, allowing states to legalize it if they wish. For some, this process was regulated promptly, while others are still struggling with it. Some of the latest bills for sports betting legalization suggest that it is only the question of time when this activity will be legal all around the country.
… at the beginning of 2020, where do we stand? Which states are the pioneers of sports betting and which will soon join the ride? To answer these questions, let’s take a comprehensive view of the current situation of this sector in the USA and a glance at the latest bills with projected legalization dates for different states.
The States Where Sports Betting Is Already In Full Swing
According to the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA or the Bradley Act), the licensed sports pools were available only in Nevada, while the sports lotteries were conducted in Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. On May 14th 2018, this law was declared unconstitutional, the federal ban was lifted and states gain the power to legalize this activity at their discretion.
As the gambling capital of the world…
… and a mature market that has existed for decades, it's not surprising that Nevada has swiftly implemented the practices in the regulation of sports betting, which can be an example to other states.
Only a month after overturning of the Bradley Act, Delaware moved to offer single-game betting on different sports at three casinos in the state, followed by New Jersey’s sports betting market opening.
The next in line were Mississippi and West Virginia who opened their sportsbooks in August 2018, while October of the same year saw New Mexico joining this clique. November was the month when residents of Pennsylvania and Rhode Island could start betting legally on their favorite sports events.
From then, there were no additions…
… until July 2019, when first legal sports wagers were placed in Arkansas and New York. Iowa, Oregon, Indiana, and New Hampshire were the latest states that have legalized and implemented sportsbooks in 2019.
Other states are either in the process of sports betting legalization or work on its implementation.
Close to achieving this goal are the following states:
- Colorado (Legalized November 2019)
- Illinois (Legalized June 2019)
- Michigan (Legalized December 2019)
- Montana (Legalized May 2019)
- North Carolina (Legalized July 2019)
- Tennessee (Legalized May 2019)
The latest news looks great for Kentucky – on January 15th 2020, a committee of the House of Representatives passed proposed legislation that could soon see the southern state legalizing the activity, alongside fantasy sports contests and online poker.
Latest bills for sports betting legalization that have been proposed and voted for
While the sportsbooks are up and running in many states…
… others are also taking steps toward legalizing this gambling activity. For some, this process is going slower, but the year of 2019 has seen a lot of progress and passed bills.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed into law a bill that brings sports wagering to Big Sky country via the state's lottery on May 3. The date for the start of operations is yet to be determined, but according to bill the sports wagering will be allowed in-person and via mobile devices within the state.
In Washington, D.C. …
…the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 became effective as of May 3, 2019.
The bill legalizes sports betting in the nation's capital, with the District's chief financial officer authorized to adopt rules and regulations following a public comment period, but there’s still no formal announcement about the day when the first sports bets would be booked at this state.
On May 25, the "Tennessee Sports Gaming Act" became law permitting statewide placing of sports bets via mobile without any brick-and-mortar anchor. This legislation obligates the operators to pay a $750,000 licensing fee, while the tax rate is set at 20%. The new law also requires all licensed operators in Tennessee to exclusively use official league data for purposes of live betting.
Illinois legislature passed a broad gaming bill that allows for both online and in-person sports wagering on June 2. The new law will also allow for betting on-location at venues, while betting is not allowed on a "minor league sports event" or any game involving "an Illinois collegiate team."
A bill to "allow sports and horse race wagering on tribal lands," was signed to a law in North Carolina on July 26.
By the new law…
…betting on both college and professional sports is allowed, but with the condition that all bettors must place their wagers in-person at one of two retail locations. The state lawmakers are also considering a bill that would permit statewide sports betting.
Voting in Colorado was tight, but a ballot measure that would provide "for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos" was approved on November 5. As early as May 2020, both mobile and retail sports betting operators will be able to offer their services.
"Lawful Sports Betting Act" was signed into law on Dec. 20, 2019 by the Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer. The regulatory oversight is delegated to the Michigan Gaming Control Board, and the new legislation provides mobile and land-based sports wagering on a wide variety of sports (including college contests). It is anticipated that sportsbooks in Michigan will start to operate sometime in 2020, but the date wasn’t specified.
Moving Towards Legalization
Sports betting legalization is a difficult process, and not all regulatory bodies are working on it at the same speed. In some jurisdictions there is strong opposition against this process that is making it even slower.
Be that as it may…
… the majority of the USA states have decided to allow sport wagering on their soil and implement it into legal operations. It’s not out of the ordinary to laws are passed just to be challenged and overruled, and this sector is no different. However, most of the states are begun the sports wagering legalization process and progress at a different pace.
The list of such states is quite long:
- South Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
Not All States Are On Board
Alaska, Idaho, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Wyoming…
… don’t have any publicly announced bills devoted to sports betting legalization. In fact, all these states have laws that actually prohibit full-blown sports wagering. Such regulations would need to be repealed or amended before sports wagering would be considered and permitted.
While these states might decide in the future to amend their laws…
… one thing is for sure – Utah is unlikely to join in. This state has such a strong anti-gambling stance that is even written into the state's constitution. Decades of opposition to any form of gambling, including lottery tickets, table games and sports betting, suggest that it won’t be welcome in Utah for the time been.
On the other hand…
… the fact that 45 states have either taken steps towards sports betting legalization or already start implementing it, indicates that the USA is eager to allow these kinds of operations on its soil. The latest bills are only confirming this impression.