Legal U.S. Sports Betting
Sports betting is legal in 24 states and Washington DC. Of the remaining States, all but 3 states have bills that have been introduced into their legislatures that seek to study and or legalize some form of gambling.
The 3 States with no sports betting bills pending are Idaho, Utah, and Wisconsin. It would be safe to say that those States will not be legalizing sports betting in 2021. Like Hawaii, some states are moving slowly and will not be ready to pass legislation this year.
However, other states already have legalized gambling or retail sportsbooks and are more receptive to legalizing statewide mobile wagering.
Some of the States have passed legislation, but the legislation has just not been enacted quite yet. Those States were included in the calculation of States where sports betting is legal.
It is anticipated that Connecticut and New York are the most likely to usher in new sports betting legislation this year. Although New York currently allows sports betting, it is limited to upstate NY and is only available at about 8 retail casinos.
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Governor Cuomo has opposed statewide mobile sports betting, and legislation supporting it has not done well. However, Governor Cuomo has had a severe change of heart. NY was the first State to be crushed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and they are facing substantial budget shortfalls.
Many anticipate that New York will be at the forefront of passing legislation in 2021. The potential market and projected tax revenue sports betting would bring to New York would be enormous.
New Yorkers are die-hard sports fans, and NYC is the largest metropolitan area in the Country. The market for mobile sports betting is definitely there, and the need for revenue is there too.
Connecticut is also one of the most likely states to pass sports betting legislation. Connecticut has 2 casinos, Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun. Apparently, the casinos have sports betting deals already in place and anticipate that legislation will go through.
Some contention points about these bills center on whether or not they alone will be entitled to run a mobile sportsbook.
Massachusetts is also considered another likely candidate to pass sportsbook legislation this year. Governor Charlie Baker is asking the legislature to approve sports betting to help address the State’s financial difficulties.
He has included projected revenue from Sports betting as part of the proposed budget he recently submitted. State Senator Crighton refiled legislation last week to legalize sports betting to be controlled by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.
Sports betting on the State’s college teams would not be permitted as it has consistently been opposed to the State’s Division 1 Universities.
Ohio is also considered a State that may pass legislation, although the State has some hurdles. In 2020 the house passed a bill to legalize sports betting, but the Senate never took up the bill.
Elected officials support legalization, but there remain questions as to which body would regulate sportsbooks and how many licenses would be issued. Many of Ohio’s neighboring states have already passed legislation that has legalized sports betting.
States recognize that it is a priority to keep revenue within the State. Ohio has the will, and where there is a will, there is a way. They may be able to enact the necessary legislation this year. Many people have suggested that Missouri is likely to pass legislation as several bills have been introduced this year.
Last year the legislative session was interrupted due to Covid-19 complications, and the thought was that it would allow some retail and or mobile sports betting at that time. The sentiment has not changed.
If I were a betting man, I would wager that at least 5 States would likely legalize sports betting in 2021!