It’s time for sports betting to expand outside Nevada’s state limits — the only question now is who will be next. The Supreme Court peeled back the scope of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), effectively allowing each state to set its own standards for sports betting. It was a big win for New Jersey, which will be the first in a new wave of states eager to cash in on the taxable revenue that comes with regulating wagers.
But while New Jersey was the impetus for the May 14 decision, it won’t be alone. Several other states have been working on legislation to allow legal sports betting, giving local lawmakers the chance to argue different approaches and weigh the merits and morality of governed gambling. In some states, you’ll be able to throw down $50 on the Eagles and the over soon. In others, you may never have the opportunity.
Here’s a look at all the states currently working on legislation to bring sportsbooks within their borders following this pivotal Supreme Court ruling.
New Jersey’s long series of legal challenges were the butterfly’s wings before the upcoming storm of sports gambling. Murphy v. NCAA was a legal battle between the state of New Jersey and America’s major sports leagues. New Jersey argued legalization of sports gambling would allow the state to capture a new and significant stream of revenue from a practice already rampant in underground operations. A 6-3 majority sided with the state, giving it the authority to legalize sports betting — so long as the federal government didn’t step in to regulate these wagers first.
Legislation allowing sportsbooks to operate in the state’s casinos and racetracks has been on the books since 2012, but not enacted thanks to PASPA. With the Supreme Court ruling, you may be able to bet on pro sports as soon as Memorial Day weekend.
Mississippi legislators didn’t pass any new laws to enable casinos to allow for sports gambling — they just deleted a chunk of existing law back in 2017 to take advantage of this year’s Supreme Court ruling. With gambling already a part of everyday life in Tunica, operators will rush to get sportsbooks up and running in the Magnolia State. The Clarion-Ledger suggests sports wagering could go live as early as June.
On June 21, the state’s gaming commission voted to approve gambling regulations that will turn sportsbooks live by July 21.
West Virginia was also proactive in pushing its betting legislation, approving a bill this spring to legalize and regulate sports wagering through the state’s five established casinos and through online apps run by those institutions. The Mountain State could be a model for other states without any of the four major U.S. sports leagues — the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB — operating at the highest level within its borders. West Virginia eschewed the idea of a 1 percent “integrity fee” that would go to the sport being bet on in order to fund investigations and regulations aimed at preventing point shaving and other gambling-related scandals. Instead, the state will cut its two Division I institutions — Marshall and West Virginia University — a slice of the gaming revenue collected by the state.
Like neighboring West Virginia, Pennsylvania has also approved its own sports gambling law back in 2017, and it includes a whopping 34 percent tax rate for a casino’s winnings. That could create reasons for concern in the state’s 13 casino companies when they assess the risk of taking bets for the upcoming football season. With legislation in place — and regulations that would allow residents to bet on local teams at both the professional and collegiate levels — Pennsylvanians could be betting on sports by the time the 2018 NFL season opens.
“It’s exciting news for the consumer, the industry and the states,” said Greg Carlin, chief executive of Rush Street Gaming, which runs casinos in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “We look forward to adding sports betting across all our gaming platforms as soon as possible.”
Governor Gina Raimondo signed SB 2045, which will allow for sports betting at the Twin River and Twin River Tiverton casinos. It prohibits wagering on, “any collegiate sports or athletic event that takes place in Rhode Island or a sports contest or athletic event in which any Rhode Island college team participates, regardless of where the event takes place.”
The state will receive 51 percent of revenue from wagers. The bill specifically prohibits any integrity fee to the leagues. Executives from Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association had previously asked for a 0.25 percent integrity fee.
Currently weighing legislation — July 2018
These states currently have active legislation that would allow for sports betting to take place at casinos, racetracks, or online.
Two state senators introduced Senate Bill 316, which expresses, “the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.” It includes no specifics, but instead is a placeholder bill. Senator John Eklund told Cleveland.com, he wanted a bill introduced to get a bill number in place so other senators know something is happening and they can offer their opinions. Eklund wants to have specifics in the bill by September.
ACA 18 was read in 2017, but no progress was made pushing the sportsbook-legalizing bill through the state legislature. That could change now that the Supreme Court has empowered states to create their own regulations.
Five active bills have been filed in Illinois regarding not only authorizing sports betting in the state, but also setting protections for consumers and ironing out licensing procedures for existing and potential casinos. These bills would require interested casinos to spend $5 million on a betting license while turning over 30 percent of wagering profits to the state.
There are three active bills regarding sports betting in Louisiana — one that would authorize sports betting (without a 1 percent integrity fee paid to major sports leagues), another that would require a statewide referendum to approve this gambling, and a third that would dictate that three percent of any additional revenue gleaned from sports betting would go toward early childhood education.
SB 2273 pertains to the regulation of daily fantasy sports as well as online sports betting. Its reporting date has twice been suspended to accommodate the Supreme Court ruling on PASPA, and is now cleared for a more comprehensive debate in the Massachusetts State Senate.
Four bills are currently being debated in Michigan based on state regulation of sports betting. HB 4060 would allow wagers within state limits, but only after a successful referendum with voters. HB 4926, authored and amended back in 2017, would regulate and authorize both sports and online betting following the repeal of PASPA — while charging an inexpensive $200,000 for gaming licenses. Both will likely be heard in upcoming sessions.
The Show Me State has six bills regarding sports wagering currently in the works. SB 767, which would authorize sportsbooks with a 12 percent tax rate, had its status updated May 15, one day after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
New York has four gambling-related bills working their way through the state legislature. SB 7900 would allow for sports betting and online wagering with a tax rate of 8.5 percent for casinos.
South Carolina’s got an uphill climb to allow gambling — it would take an amendment to the state constitution to allow gaming of any type within its borders. That’s what HJR 3102 would do, which covers sports betting, casino games, and horse racing.
The national option
The Supreme Court ruling was specific — in the absence of federal legislation regarding sports betting, states can call their own shots. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is working to install some federal oversight. Hatch, who was one of the authors behind PASPA, made a predictably anti-gambling statement to announce he’d target further regulation in the wake of the court’s decision.
“The problems posed by sports betting are much the same as they were 25 years ago,” the outgoing senator said. “But the rapid rise of the internet means that sports betting across state lines is now just a click away. We cannot allow this practice to proliferate amid uneven enforcement and a patchwork race to the regulatory bottom. At stake here is the very integrity of sports.”
While it’s unclear what Hatch’s plan will be, his efforts could be the start of federal legislation aimed at creating a standardized plan for state-by-state sports gambling regulations and oversight.
Who else could legalize sports betting in the near future?
Several other states could jump on the wagering bandwagon now that the Supreme Court has given local legislations the power to set their own rules when it comes to sports bets. Here’s how the Associated Press sees the near future shaking out: