by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

Readers familiar with these TGS pages know that we have been keenly interested in the mechanics of the new legalized sports betting environment in the USA. Over the course of several years, we devoted a lot of space to New Jersey’s quest to overturn PASPA, the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, when select states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana...but not New Jersey) were “grandfathered” by federal law to accept sports wagers, though only in Nevada’s case would it include single-game wagering; it was parlay cards only for the other states. Everything would change in May of 2018 via a resounding victory in SCOTUS for New Jersey by a near-landslide 7-2 decision. Each state was thus free to establish its own regulated sports betting laws.

It’s been about 10 months since we posted our most-recent update on proceedings, and things continue to evolve. Many industry insiders have not been surprised at developments over the past 16 months, which have progressed at a brisk pace. As we hit mid-September, 11 new states (in addition to the “grandfathered” Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana) are now up and running with sports betting in one form or another as a result of the PASPA overturn. As we often receive inquiries from readers who are interested in more information about sports betting coming to their particular states, we thought it might be a good idea to present a “scoreboard” of sorts and a state-by-state report on who’s taking bets, who’s isn’t, and who might be in the near future.

States where sports betting is currently legalized: Arkansas*, Delaware, Indiana*, Iowa*, Mississippi*, Montana, Nevada*, New Jersey*, New Mexico* (tribal casinos), New York*, North Carolina*, Oregon, Pennsylvania*, Rhode Island*, West Virginia*. *-states legalized since repeal of PASPA in May 2018.

States where sports betting is legalized, pending launch: Illinois, Montana, Tennessee, plus Washington, D.C.

States where online/mobile sports betting is legal: Iowa, Mississippi (at properties only), Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.

States where online/mobile sports betting is pending: Delaware (launch undetermined), Illinois, Indiana, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, plus Washington, D.C.

States with recent or planned legislative activity regarding sports betting: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, plus Washington, D.C. This list includes many states that have already enacted legislation to legalize sports gaming, and others in the process of implementing online/mobile wagering.

What fascinates about the various lists above is that almost every state in the union is either in the process of legalizing some form of sports wagering, or has already done so. Indeed, most noteworthy now are the handful of states conspicuous by their absence of any pending legislation to enact sports wagering; over the past year, 38 states representing nearly 90 percent of the US adult population have introduced more than 150 bills on the topic. Sports betting is arguably the most-talked about policy issue in state capitols across the country.

For many states, there are moves afoot to fast-forward a process that would either enact legislation or a ballot measure to be voted upon by the respective electorates. Early days for many of these, and some states are further along than others, but there is considerable activity to note nonetheless. Among those states, and related specifics:

Arizona...a bill was introduced in the state legislature in January that could fast-forward sports wagering at tribal casinos. Arkansas...legislation introduced in April to accommodate sports wagering, though wording suggests wagering on all amateur athletics and events within the state of Arkansas would not be permitted Colorado...a ballot measure was proposed in May that would set the framework for collection of tax from the net sports betting proceeds from licensed casinos. Georgia...two bills introduced in March in Atlanta proposing the implementation of sports betting, creating a regulatory body, and mechanics for state education to receive a portion of the taxed proceeds. Kansas...varieties of measures introduced in Topeka in 2019, including authorizing sports gaming under an expanded lottery act, and, in May, creating a new Kansas wagering act. Kentucky...eight bills introduced in Frankfort since last June address the creation of legalized sports wagering. Louisiana...four bills proposed in Baton Rouge between April and July that address legalization of sports wagering and taxes on related proceeds. Maine...eight bills introduced in Augusta since May to fast-forward creation and implementation of sports wagering within the state. New Hampshire... legislation introduced and signed by Governor Sununu in March to begin process of legalizing sports wagering in the state. North Carolina...in July, legislation introduced in Raleigh to legalize sports wagering at tribal casinos. North Dakota...in March, legislation was floated to authorize sports gaming, though it has twice failed to gain approval in the state legislature, most recently by a 38-7 “nay” vote on March 29. Ohio...in March and April, two bills introduced in Columbus to explore creation of sports betting mechanisms in the state.  South Carolina...three bills introduced in January in Columbia to create sports gaming study committees. South Dakota...in March, a proposal to place on the state ballot a measure to authorize sports betting; it narrowly passed 33-32, next move pending. Texas...a proposal to authorize the state legislature to legalize sports betting was introduced in February and continues to work its way thru committees. Vermont...a February bill was introduced in Montpelier that proposes legalization of sports wagering in the state. Virginia...in January, a state Sports Betting Department was created in Richmond, with various bills introduced since to help fast-forward the process. Washington...a bill was introduced in February that could fast-forward sports wagering at tribal casinos.

Here is a further look at information from various states as they have either proceeded to operational sports wagering or have set a timetable for commencement of the same.

New Jersey...Having set a template for the “new” states in sports wagering, the Garden State continues to experience accelerated growth and even surpassed Nevada for total handle in two recent months. The effective introduction of a mobile app has keyed New Jersey’s sports wagering business; more than 80% of New Jersey’s sports wagering handle is being generated from the mobile apps.

Pennsylvania...Since becoming operational in November of 2018, the Keystone State has introduced a number of sportsbooks in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. In Philly, the SugarHouse became the first online sports betting app to launch in the state as of May; Parx and BetRivers introduced mobile apps in June, and FanDuel in July. The Rivers Sportsbook in Pittsburgh is due to open an expanded facility by the end of September. Note that the launch of the apps has not gone especially smooth; for the first two months, it was not possible to access a PA online sportsbook from any iOS device (iPhones and iPads). A recent workaround from SugarHouse offers an option for those using Apple devices to be able to play. Right now, however, if you want to bet online in PA, you’ll need to do so from a computer or Android device, though fully two-thirds of PA business in August was generated online.

Mississippi... Though an early entrant into sports wagering post-PASPA, Mississippi continues to awkwardly address the mobile app angle. In a nutshell, mobile apps have been approved, but only for use on the specific property; thus, if at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, you can use your mobile app to make a bet away from the sportsbook while at the buffet or somewhere else at the hotel/casino, but can’t use the app at home, or anywhere once leaving the property. A couple of legislators, including Rep. Cedric Burnett (D-Tunica) and Sen. Willie Simmons (D-Cleveland) are hopeful of reintroducing mobile app legislation in an upcoming session, but there is resistance. Specifically, concerns including potential for underage gambling undermined the chances of mobile Mississippi sports betting bills advancing this year. For now, though, the nearly two dozen Mississippi casinos offering legal sports betting will only take bets at the counter. By keeping the status quo, Mississippi could be leaving behind a sizable chunk of revenue. Sources suggest it could take years to gain sufficient support in this conservative state, though mobile sports wagering could appear in the 2020 legislative session if Rep. Burnett and Sen. Simmons can find enough support. For the moment, however, Mississippi sports betting remains in-person only.

Rhode Island... Mobile betting was finally introduced in early September, though there could be legal challenges on the horizon. Specifically from former Providence Republican mayoral candidate Daniel Harrop, who argues mobile RI sports betting requires voter approval. Which relies on a narrow interpretation of the Rhode Island constitution, which requires all forms of gambling expansion to go to the ballot. The suit does not appear to faze the lottery, which oversees Rhode Island sports betting, or vendors IGT and William Hill.

New York... The Empire State has begun slow roll-out of licensed books, all upstate, though the New York City market is not far from effective service in neighboring New Jersey. Mobile apps, however, are finding it harder to gain approval in Albany, even with the realization that neighboring New Jersey and Pennsylvania are deriving the vast majority of their incomes from the mobile apps. In the meantime, the sportsbooks will remain hamstrung in terms of revenue potential without mobile wagering, especially as the current operating establishments are all at least three hours drive from the Big Apple. Most observers believe this mobile situation will be eventually remedied, but as with most affairs in Albany, there is considerable red tape to overcome.

TGS will continue to keep abreast of the evolving sports wagering marketplace and related developments. We'll also again be attending the annual New York Sports Gaming USA Conference in November and will be offering a full report on those proceedings later in the fall. Stay tuned.

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