Regulation Sports

State Of The States: Sports Betting In The Western Region

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This is part five in a continuing series. Part one covered the northeastern region, part two the south atlantic, part three the south central, and part four the midwest

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 fifth 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: West

ALASKA: Sports betting doesn’t appear to be on the radar in Alaska. No bills were filed in 2018 and none have been pre-filed ahead of the 2019 session.

ARIZONA: No legislation has been filed in Arizona ahead of the 2019 session, and the state would likely have to revisit its tribal compacts when legalization is considered. Arizona has 22 recognized tribes, and 16 of them run casinos.

CALIFORNIA:  There is a ballot initiative proposed for 2020 and a representative has offered a constitutional amendment. California has lots of places to host sports betting — more than 60 tribal casinos and plenty of card rooms dot the state.

COLORADO: Though no sports betting was filed during the 2018 session or ahead of the 2019 session, an “Issue Brief” put together by legislative council staff was released in November. The brief is, in essence, a study that provides an overview of Colorado’s current gaming situation and examines the implications of legalizing sports betting. In October, Representatives Cole Wist (R-Centennial) and Alec Garnett (D-Denver) told the Denver Post they want to open “the conversation” on sports betting. The pair spearheaded Colorado’s 2016 legalization of fantasy sports. Wist called legalizing sports betting a “no-brainer.”

HAWAII: Casinos are prohibited in Hawaii, and sports betting has not come up in the state legislature.

IDAHO: The only legal gambling allowed in Idaho is through the state lottery or pari-mutuel betting and it doesn’t appear that will change any time soon.

MONTANA: One of the four states grandfathered in under PASPA, Montana didn’t make a move on sports betting after the Supreme Court decision because its legislature wasn’t in session. But lawmakers will take up the issue in 2019, with the intent to legalize during the 90-day session. Senators Mark Blasdel and Kenneth Bogner are both having bills crafted, and it’s likely there will be others, as well. 

NEVADA: Sports betting has been legal here for more than half a century. Enough said.

NEW MEXICO: The state hasn’t taken up sports betting, but you can lay down a bet at the Santa Ana Star Casino. This tribal-owned casino and sportsbook is the only Indian sportsbook outside of Mississippi that has launched sports betting. The state’s attorney general has not challenged the Tamaya Nation, and the state legislature didn’t take up sports betting in 2018. In addition, the state lottery is planning to offer a game linked to sporting events. 

OREGON: In September, the Oregon Lottery rolled out a mobile app with the goal of adding sports betting in the fall of 2019. Like Montana, Oregon is one of four states that was grandfathered under PASPA. Though the state legislature would likely have to pass enabling legislation, Oregon could move on sports betting more easily than many other states.

UTAH: Casino gaming is prohibited in Utah and Senator Orrin Hatch, one of the original architects of PASPA, is trying to find a way to have the federal regulate sports betting in the post-PASPA era. In late December, Hatch filed a federal bill that would pay the pro leagues and require the purchase of official league data.  

WASHINGTON: State law currently allows 100-square sports pools, but all other sports betting is illegal, and no sports betting legislation was proposed during the 2018 session.

WYOMING: Several Wyoming lawmakers have spoken out in favor of exploring sports betting, but none have gone so far as to file legislation. Casino-style gaming is currently illegal in Wyoming, though the state does have a lottery and allows bingo and pull-tab games.

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