Dozens of States Consider Sports Betting Bills
It’s been less than a year since the sports betting world opened up to every state in America. The US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May 2018, courtesy of a years-long court battle initiated by the state of New Jersey pushing for the right to offer sports betting. And with that ruling deeming PASPA to be unconstitutional, several states immediately initiated or passed laws to legalize sports betting.
Nevada had been the primary PASPA exception through the years, but other states were prepared for the ruling. Delaware and New Jersey were two of the first states to launch sports betting operations, and they were followed by Rhode Island, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, with one tribe also doing so in New Mexico. Others that have legalized it but not yet launched are New York, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C.
Even more states have bills in progress or are currently drafting bills to legalize and regulate sports betting in some form within their borders.
By the time the US Supreme Court decision reaches its one-year anniversary, it seems likely that more than half of the states in America will have some type of legalized sports betting.
States Considering Bills
Many lawmakers introduced bills in late 2018 that failed to find consensus, so some of them carried over to 2019, but other states put new legislation into motion this year already.
Most of the bills differ, with some authorizing sports betting in land-based casinos and racetracks only and others including mobile betting. As this is the first time many lawmakers have explored the available technology and discussed the options for their states, the legislative process is taking longer than expected. Even so, the movement toward the majority of states offering sports betting by the end of 2019 is speeding ahead.
The number of states considering bills or with drafts prepared at this time sits at 29:
— American Gaming Association (@AmericanGaming) January 28, 2019
And according to AGA research, the vast majority of Americans want sports betting legalized in their states. In fact, 8 out of 10 Americans support this, with 2 out of 3 also believing that states and sovereign tribal nations should be in charge of the industry’s regulation and oversight. Additionally, more than half of those surveyed across America believe that professional sports leagues should not receive an integrity fee, which is a portion of sports betting profits.
These statistics are all the more important in light of Congress’ urgent desire to regulate sports betting at the federal level and allow leagues to receive an integrity fee.
Status of Federal Legislation
The most recent draft legislation from Congress was called the Sports Wagering Market Integrity Act of 2018, which was written to allow states to determine sports betting legality but will put Congress in charge of establishing overall guidelines. The federal government will also be able to monitor the markets and bettors themselves to monitor for criminal and other potentially damaging activities.
As of the beginning of 2019, the bill has yet to be officially introduced, as coauthor Senator Orrin Hatch has since retired, and Senator Chuck Schumer has yet to find another person to help finalize and push the legislation.
The AGA is still lobbying for states to maintain their rights, but it is unclear where Congress stands on the issue at the moment. Many members do want some type of federal oversight, but what form that will take remains undecided.
Congress has certainly been focused on other issues of late, namely the recent partial government shutdown and the negotiations to stop another one, in addition to numerous other issues weighing heavily on various committees and the entire government. But as dozens of states begin to jump onto the sports betting bandwagon, it is likely that a bill will surface sooner rather than later.
Per @OPReport of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, there are 79 sports betting bills across 25 states. Lots of interest around the nation in 2019. Will be fascinating to watch as what many believe will be the largest regulated sports betting market take shape in the U.S.
— David Payne Purdum (@DavidPurdum) February 12, 2019