Since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May, seven states have launched sports betting and two more have legalized it, but play has not yet begun.
In order, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island launched sports betting in 2018 and are open for business. Arkansas voters legalized sports betting by ballot initiative in November and in December, the D.C. Council took a massive step toward making sports betting legal in our nation’s capital.
In addition, many states have started the sports betting conversation, and lawmakers in five states have filed bills ahead of their 2019 sessions. It’s been a lot to digest. So, if you’re wondering where things are at in your state, or anywhere across the nation, read on. This is the fourth of a five-part series detailing the status of sports betting in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Legislative sessions across the country begin in January, some as early as Jan. 3.
State of the States: Midwest
ILLINOIS: Since the 2018 session closed, there has been no new sports betting legislation offered, but expect Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28), to file a sports betting bill before the session opens on Jan. 29. Rita held two comprehensive informational hearings this year, and he’ll be the point person on sports betting going forward. Earlier in the year, no less than four bills were filed, but none had legs — and many were at odds with one another.
INDIANA: Representative Alan Morrison filed a sports betting bill during the 2018 session and state lawmakers held hearings, but there was no movement on the topic. In October, the Interim Joint Policy Committee held an informational sports betting hearing that showed that state lawmakers still have a whole lot more learning to do before crafting passable legislation.
IOWA: With more than 20 commercial casinos scattered around the state, Iowa would seem ripe for sports betting. But despite getting an early jump on the conversation, the state didn’t make any real moves toward legalization during the 2018 session. The one bill that was drafted didn’t have any legs and its sponsor did not win re-election, so if the sports betting discussion continues in Iowa, it will have a new champion.
KANSAS: State lawmakers were among the first to talk sports betting, holding an informational hearing in March, during which one lawmaker admitted sports betting was a more “complex” issue than he imagined. It’s only gotten more so. A scheduled two-day hearing that was supposed to result in a recommendation of whether or not to move forward was cut down to one day in December, and after that two key lawmakers were finger-pointing in the press. What will happen next is anyone’s guess.
MICHIGAN: Multiple sports betting bills were filed in 2017 and 2018, but none were passed, as state lawmakers failed to reach a consensus and continued to negotiate with the state’s myriad Indian tribes to find a way to include them. Representative Brandt Iden (R-District 61) took the lead on negotiating with the tribes. In late December, the Senate passed an online gambling bill that would have laid the foundation for sports betting, but it was vetoed by lame duck Gov. Rick Snyder just a few days before he left office on January 1.
MINNESOTA: Though no sports betting bills were filed in 2018 or ahead of the 2019 session, expect Minnesota to make some progress on sports betting, as Senator Roger Chamberlain (R-District 38) in December promised to file a bill. Minnesota currently has 18 tribal casinos, but no commercial casinos, so lawmakers will likely need to negotiate with the tribes as well as figure out where sports betting will take place across the state.
MISSOURI: Two sports betting bills have been filed ahead of the 2019 session, one each in the Senate and the House. The Senate bill, sponsored by Denny Hoskins, calls for a 0.5 percent integrity fee paid to the state to help maintain, improve and build sporting facilities, while the House bill, sponsored by Cody Smith, has a super low 6.25 percent tax rate, but a one percent royalty on handle, earmarked for the pro leagues and NCAA.
NEBRASKA: Governor Pete Ricketts doesn’t want sports betting because he believes that sports betting, like other forms of gambling, will cost the state money. He told the Lincoln Journal-Star in May, “Sports betting is illegal in Nebraska and we have no plans to change that.”
NORTH DAKOTA: State lawmakers in late December promised to bring sports betting legislation ahead of the 2019 session, which begins Jan. 3. Two representatives are planning to file separate bills and Governor Doug Burgum isn’t committing either way, saying he’ll wait to see what’s in the bills before he decides if he’s for or against.
OHIO: No sports betting legislation was proposed in 2018, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t on the agenda. In October, two senators held two hearings to explore sports betting, with the intention of crafting passable legislation. But Ohio is basically starting from scratch when it comes to laying out what sports betting will look like, and when the first bill is filed, it will be a conversation starter, rather than a bill to move on. That said, Ohio’s hearings were thoughtful and comprehensive, and should lay a strong foundation.
SOUTH DAKOTA: The Deadwood Gaming Association is in the process of asking the state legislature to put a constitutional amendment to legalize sports betting in Deadwood on the 2020 ballot. This is how other gaming measures have been legalized in the state. Gaming is currently limited to Deadwood, the gateway to Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills.
WISCONSIN: No sports betting legislation was proposed in 2018 and none has been filed ahead of the 2019 session.