Sports Betting Legality: State By State Guide
On May 14, 2018 the United States Supreme Court unleashed a ruling that opened up potential for sports betting to become legal in all states. It is to be noted that major changes are expected to be slow coming, with some states taking a year or more to make adjustments. While some states like New Jersey, West Virginia, Delaware, and Mississippi have been waiting on this ruling and will likely act quickly, other states are expected to stall. States like California, New York, Illinois, and Michigan currently have sports betting bills in legislation and are awaiting results. The stalls are only expected due to legislative scheduling and the fact that most states won’t be back in session until 2019 and can’t even consider changes until then.
Currently the state Constitution in Alabama prohibits all forms of gambling. When the governor’s office was recently contacted to give a statement on the new possibility, the spokesperson revealed that the legislature won’t meet until March 2019. Thus, nothing is expected to quickly change for Alabama residents.
Alaska is a state where not much talk about gambling has occurred recently and a spokesperson at Governor Walker’s office confirmed that there’s been no chatter about it even still.
Arizona just recently had a legislative session, but there were no sports gambling bills included. Thus, sports betting will continue to be illegal until that changes. However, Arizona residents are getting excited after Governor Doug Ducey did comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling and called it “positive news”. Ducey is well known for wanting to modernize gaming laws and has expressed publicly before that he’d like to take advantage of anything that would benefit citizens and the general fund.
Some states are choosing to sit back and see what happens in other states before they even think about taking action and Arkansas is one of those. Governor Asa Hutchinson said they’re monitoring this new decision closely however they want to see how other states react. Arkansas has always been opposed to the broad expansion of gambling thus far.
California currently has legislation in motion regarding sports gambling and the Supreme Court decision seemed to only progress that movement even more. Many members of the state assembly have mentioned they’d like to see the multibillion-dollar industry of sports gambling benefit the citizens of California.
Currently in the Colorado constitution, Title 18 prohibits gambling on sports. Thus, there would need to be a public vote to change that law.
Some states will be interested in acting a bit faster on this Supreme Court decision and it appears Connecticut might be one of them. Governor Dannel Malloy has already issued a statement that said they are preparing to call a special session with the General Assembly to discuss the issue.
Since Delaware already allows limited sports betting (with the limit being a multi-game betting format on NFL games), it is expected they will move fast to allow a full scale sports betting concept be put into place. Spokespersons for the state are expecting changes to happen as soon as June 2018 and have stated that the program will be ran via the state lottery office.
Currently there is a proposed amendment on the November 2018 ballot in Florida that would turn over any gambling expansion to the voters instead of Florida’s legislature. If this amendment passes, the state would not have control of the issue any longer. However, Governor Scott’s office did issue a statement that said any gaming law changes would be made by the state legislature.
The spokesperson for Governor Nathan Deal in Georgia has basically dodged this issue for at least the moment, stating that the next available opportunity for this issue to be discussed would be January 2019 and that the governor will no longer hold office at that time.
Hawaii is one state that is cautiously proceeding in terms of at least exploring the benefits and costs of gambling within the state. A bill is currently active that wants to create a commission that would give an independent analysis of how it would affect the state both economically and socially.
Unfortunately it appears Governor Otter of Idaho is opposed to gambling within Idaho, although the state does have a horse industry currently. Making a change in this state would require a change of the state’s constitution and may need to happen under a future governor.
Currently the state of Illinois has several active bills that are trying to legalize gambling under the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975 and the Riverboat Gambling Act. Thus, those in support may see changes coming more quickly in this state than in others.
There have been several gambling bills introduced in Indiana over the past few years (mostly by State Representative Alan Morrison). While they’ve not advanced far enough for a vote to be taken, the Supreme Court decision has added confidence to the supporters and several of them predict there is a good chance that by late 2019 gambling will be legal.
After the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, State Representative Jake Highfill announced that he would introduce a proposal to legalize sports betting on college and professional sporting events.
While it appears that Kansas would like to allow sports betting, the main hang up within the state is determining where the actual betting should take place (at race tracks only, etc.) which is something somewhat unique thus far. However, it is expected Kansas will legalize sports betting as soon as an agreement can be made.
While horse race betting is a known past time of residents of Kentucky, the state hasn’t issued a firm statement on where they will stand regarding sports betting. Governor Bevin has acknowledged that he’s aware sports betting has and continues to occur even illegally, however he’s unwilling to comment further.
Senator Danny Martiny has pushed hard for the state to consider sports betting and gambling, but has met strong resistance thus far. Martiny has commented that Louisiana should get ahead of the issue and not be the last state coming into the profits on this topic. Thus far he has no support from the governor’s office, however.
It seems that Maine is another state that may be the last to consider sports betting or gambling as a whole. Their Gambling Control Unit has stated that Maine is not considering any legislation on the issue.
While bills that wanted to get a referendum vote on gambling in Maryland didn’t get through the legislature this year, it is expected that the issue be a main topic in the next legislative session.
There is hope in Massachusetts, although the process could be long and time consuming. At this time there is an active bill that would create a special commission that would study the issue and offer a potential legislation regarding online sports betting. However, that legislation would still be required to be debated and passed.
There are a wealth of bills floating around Michigan regarding gambling at this time, totally eight. Several of them want to legalize sports betting and wagers on fantasy sports. Others want the lottery system of the state to handle all wagers. While some have passed in committee, none have passed the full House or Senate.
While there is a group of representatives working hard to try to get sports betting on the legislative forefront, thus far they’ve failed and the legislature has not considered a bill on the issue.
Mississippi is way ahead of the game on this topic, stating that casinos could be offering bets on professional and college sports as soon as 45 days after the Supreme Court decision. In fact, last year Mississippi legislature legalized sports betting in the state casinos, almost secretly.
There are a few gambling bills on the table in Missouri at this time, but only one has gotten past committee, which means there will not likely be any decisions made since the session is wrapping up soon.
Fantasy sports leagues and pools are already legal in Montana. However, there has not been an official statement yet on whether the state will broaden their gambling laws.
With the Nebraska governor being very publicly opposed to sports gambling, it’s unlikely Nebraska will see a change in their laws anytime soon.
Sports gambling is currently legal in Nevada. No changes are expected.
There is no official comment regarding sports betting law changes within New Hampshire. Although Governor Sununu did comment on the potential passage, saying, “I’ll give it 3-1.”
New Jersey was the state in which provided the basis for the legal battle that ended up in the Supreme Court on sports betting. Thus, it is expected that New Jersey pass a law regarding the legalization of sports betting very soon.
The state of New Mexico is not releasing any statements regarding the recent Supreme Court decision. There have been no state sports gambling legislation bills to date.
While New York is expected to jump on board with state sports betting, it is unlikely it will happen this year due to the session ending. The state has previously said they would need to do an economic analysis and legal analysis before moving forward.
Considering there has not been any recent discussion on the issue and that the governor’s office is refusing to comment makes one assume that North Carolina must not be interested in sports betting legislation.
While Governor Burgum was in complete support of the New Jersey battle with the Supreme Court regarding sports betting, his interest wasn’t necessarily in sports betting legalization. Instead he was more interested in the fact that he felt states should be able to make their own laws and judgements regarding their own laws. Thus, while he sees the decision as a victory, he says there are no current proposals.
Ohio has several casinos; however Governor Kasich says they’re in no rush to expand legislation in the area.
There was a recent session within the state that wanted to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma. However, the final bill more or less addressed the expansion of casino games and thus there is no news on whether 2019 will once again be the year to revisit sports betting for the state.
Oregon once offered the Sports Action NFL parlay game via the Oregon Lottery. However, in 2007 they quit offering the game only because the NCAA refused to hold any championship events in states where sports betting was allowed. There is no word on how the Supreme Court decision may change this in Oregon.
There is already a law in place within Pennsylvania that says if federal law allowed states to regulate sports gaming, then it would be authorized in the state. However, the state also requires a $10 million licensing fee and a 34% tax rate on sports betting, which may delay any progress.
While Rhode Island already has an active bill allowing sports betting, it also prohibits any betting on collegiate sports within the state or any collegiate events that involves any state college team.
It is expected it will be a struggle to get any sports betting legislation passed in South Carolina. However, there was a recent bill proposed that will not likely be acted upon until next year.
Since it is a time of transition in South Dakota, there is no prediction on what the Supreme Court decision will spur in the state. There is no active legislation regarding it and the current governor will be leaving at the end of the year.
Spokespersons for the governor have stated they’re reviewing the Supreme Court decision and State Senator Brian Kelsey is projected to introduce legislation that would allow sports betting, with tax proceeds going to K-12 education. However, the General Assembly has adjourned for this year already.
With a history of not being in support of gambling expansion, it’s not expected that Texas will jump on board quickly even with the Supreme Court decision.
Much like Texas, Utah probably won’t see sports betting within state lines any time soon. However, they were in support of the Supreme Court decision, as it allowed states to regulate gambling.
Vermont isn’t chomping at the bit to include sports betting in their laws, either. There has been no recent legislation introduced and none is expected, either.
There is no active legislation within Virginia regarding sports betting. However, it is expected there may be proposals brought to the table next year.
It has been stated that to legalize sports betting within Washington would require a majority vote from the state legislature. The governor’s office has issued a statement saying they hope the legislature focuses on a regulatory structure that will keep gambling legal and honest. Thus, it looks like the issue is moving forward in this state.
While regulations have not yet been set, there was already a law in West Virginia that was only waiting for a favorable Supreme Court ruling. Thus, sports betting should be allowed soon at state licensed casinos.
There is not much talk about sports betting in Wisconsin. However, followers may begin to see tribal casinos asking for amendments to gaming compacts to allow them to include it at their casinos.
It seems the state of Wyoming has no interest in sports betting legislation at this time.