Jun 9, 2020
After New Jersey’s Supreme Court victory in May 2018, any state that wishes can legalize sports betting.
At the same time various state lawmakers are considering sports betting legislation, Congress is too. Senators Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and now-retired Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, co-introduced comprehensive sports betting legislation at the end of 2018. On Sept. 27, 2018 the House Judiciary Committee held a formal hearing on the topic.
The dual track of proposals — state and federal — have increased in frequency since the start of 2017.
To measure the change in the landscape, we ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of how likely it is for each jurisdiction to offer full-scale legal sports betting. A brief synopsis for the active states is included, with updates to follow.
Last updated on June 9, 2020.
No longer the only state to permit a wide variety of legal sports betting, Nevada is a mature market that has existed for decades. Many states might look to Nevada for the best practices in the regulation of sports betting. Nevada could even be designated as a national hub of sorts, via agreements with other states on topics such as oversight, liquidity, line monitoring and risk management.
On June 5, 2018, Delaware moved to offer single-game betting on a number of different sports at three casinos in the state. Expanded sports wagering options could take place at additional locations or online. Delaware’s authorization of what Gov. John Carney described as “a full-scale sports gaming operation” happened less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that the federal law restricting single-game betting to Nevada was unconstitutional.
3. New Jersey
On June 11, 2018, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the sports betting bill that had passed the previous week. A William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth Park took the first bets on Thursday, June 14 at 10:30 a.m. ET. Gov. Murphy was the first customer in line. The Borgata in Atlantic City booked sports bets 30 minutes later. Other sportsbooks in New Jersey opened soon thereafter. For example, FanDuel’s first sportsbook at the Meadowlands opened its doors on July 14.
Two casinos owned by MGM Resorts booked their first sports bets in Mississippi on Aug. 1, 2018. Mississippi enacted a new law in 2017 that allowed for sports betting pending a favorable decision by the Supreme Court. In June 2018, the Mississippi Gaming Commission adopted implementing regulations that require all betting to take place in person, with mobile wagering to be considered later.
5. West Virginia
On Aug. 30, 2018, West Virginia became the fifth state to offer legal and regulated sports betting when the Hollywood Casino — a sportsbook owned by Penn National — opened its doors. The move came six months after the West Virginia legislature passed a new bill with the West Virginia Lottery Commission serving as the chief regulator. Both in-person and online sports wagering are permitted under the law.
6. New Mexico
On Oct. 16, 2018, the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel booked its first sports bet in partnership with Nevada-based USBookmaking. Although New Mexico has not passed any new sports betting legislation since the Supreme Court’s decision, the move by the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel was made via a gaming compact with the state. According to Nedra Darling, spokeswoman at the Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Affairs — the federal agency in Washington, DC that oversees tribal gaming compacts — the New Mexico compacts permit “any or all forms of Class III Gaming,” a category in the federal regulations that specifically includes “[a]ny sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering.” Published reports indicate that bets will not be permitted on games involving the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State University.
The Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course booked the first legal sports bets in Pennsylvania in mid-November 2018. The move came just over a year after Gov. Tom Wolf signed a new sports betting bill as part of a broad legislation push that included online poker and DFS. The October 2017 bill became effective after the Supreme Court’s May 2018 ruling upending the federal ban on single-game betting outside of Nevada. A number of other sportsbooks have also obtained a license to operate in Pennsylvania. In a June 15, 2018 letter to Pennsylvania officials, the NFL expressed concerns about consumer protections, data and enforcement issues under the bill.
8. Rhode Island
The Twin River Casino in Lincoln opened its doors for legal sports betting on Nov. 26, 2018. The move came five months after Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the state budget, which included language allowing sports betting. Only two locations would be allowed to offer sports betting under the law, with the state’s lottery providing regulatory oversight. In early 2019, the law was tweaked to provide for mobile betting.
On July 1, 2019, the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort booked the first legal sports bets in Arkansas. A small number of other retail locations are slated to open sportsbooks in the coming months. Sports betting is regulated by the Arkansas Racing Commission. Mobile online wagering is not permitted.
10. New York
On July 16, 2019, the first legal sports bets were placed in New York. J. Gary Pretlow — a New York lawmaker and chair of the state’s racing and wagering committee — was among the first to place a wager at the Rivers Casino in Schenectady. The opening of a legal sportsbook came six years after New York passed a law to allow sports betting at four on-site locations, all in upstate New York. After lying dormant for years, the law was revived after the Supreme Court ruling in 2018 and the issuance of regulations earlier this year. The current law does not allow for mobile wagering.
A broader bill to permit online sports wagering stalled in mid-2019. New York’s long-running issue with fantasy sports continues to percolate. On Oct. 26, 2018, Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly ruled that the state’s two-year-old DFS law violated the state’s constitution. “The judge’s decision was unequivocal,” said Cornelius D. Murray, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case, in a statement to ESPN. “The ruling found that New York’s DFS law was unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt.” In the wake of the ruling – which is currently being appealed by the state Attorney General — both DraftKings and FanDuel confirmed that they will continue offering fantasy contests in the state.
Legal sports betting arrived in Iowa on Aug. 15, with multiple operators all opening their doors to customers on the first day. The move came three months after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into a law a comprehensive bill to legalize sports betting in the Hawkeye State. Operators must pay a $45,000 licensing fee and there is a 6.75 percent tax on revenue. The new law permits mobile wagering. Betting on college sports is permitted, but certain kinds of in-game prop bets involving college games are banned. The new law bestows the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission with authority to regulate sports betting.
Legal sports betting returned to Oregon on Aug. 27 after a long hiatus, with the first bets booked on-site at the Chinook Winds Casino Resort in Lincoln City. Oregon is one of a small number of states that already had a law on the books permitting some forms of sports betting, so the resumption of wagering did not require the legislature to pass any new law or have the governor amend an existing tribal-state compact. In mid-October, mobile sports betting arrived in Oregon too, with the state-run lottery overseeing the launch of a new website and app.
Legal sports betting opened up at a number of locations in Indiana on Sept. 1. The Indiana Gaming Commission oversees all sports betting regulations and has issued licenses to operators across the state. Wagering on both college and pro sports is permitted, but betting on esports and high school sports is banned. Indiana’s new law allows for both mobile and in-person wagering. Regulations permit sports leagues or colleges to request “to utilize a geofence to prohibit wagers at the location of a particular sporting event.”
14. New Hampshire
Governor Chris Sununo placed the ceremonial first legal sports wager — on the New England Patriots — in New Hampshire on Dec. 30, 2019. The state’s lottery is in charge of regulatory of regulatory oversight. Both retail and mobile sports betting will be permitted on a wide variety of sports, although no betting on New Hampshire’s in-state colleges is allowed. Bettors must be at least 18 years old.
Legal sports betting arrived in Illinois on March 9, 2020. The move came less than a year after the Illinois legislature passed a broad gaming bill that allowed for both online and in-person sports betting. With Governor J.B. Pritzker’s signature, the new law also provided for betting on-location at venues such as Wrigley Field. Operators and certain data providers are required to obtain a license under the new law. Betting is not allowed on a “minor league sports event” or any game involving “an Illinois collegiate team.”
Legal sports betting in Michigan commenced on March 11, 2020, with two Detroit-area casinos launching on the same day. The move came less than three months after Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the “Lawful Sports Betting Act” into law. The new law provides for wagering on a wide variety of sports, including college contests. Bettors must be at least 21 years of age. Mobile sports betting is permitted under the law, but is not expected to be available until 2021.
Legal sports betting arrived in Montana in March 2020. The move came after Governor Steve Bullock formally signed into law a 28-page bill that brought sports wagering to Big Sky country via the state’s lottery. Governor Bullock cited the Montana Lottery’s “proven track record of responsibility and integrity” when signing the bill.
May 1, 2020, marked the launch of legal sports betting in Colorado, with multiple operators allowing residents to open accounts online and place wagers. The move came less than six months after Colorado voters — by a narrow margin — approved a ballot measure that would provide “for the regulation of sports betting through licensed casinos.” Both mobile and retail sports betting are permitted. Tax revenue from sports betting will help fund various state water projects.
19. Washington, D.C.
Following a Congressional review period — during which time Congress did not formally object — the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018 became effective as of May 3, 2019. The bill legalizes sports betting in the nation’s capital, with the District’s chief financial officer authorized to adopt rules and regulations following a public comment period. As of May 8, 2019, there was no formal announcement about the day when the first sports bets would be booked in Washington, D.C.
The “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act” became law on May 25, 2019. The new law — one that permits statewide mobile sports betting without any brick-and-mortar anchor — has an effective date of July 1, 2019. Sports betting operators must pay a $750,000 licensing fee and there is a 20 percent tax rate. Subject to a narrow exception, Tennessee’s new law requires all licensed operators to “exclusively use official league data for purposes of live betting.” Under the new law, all bettors must be at least 21 years old.
21. North Carolina
On July 26, 2019, Governor Roy Cooper signed into a law a bill to “allow sports and horse race wagering on tribal lands,” with such betting designated as a ‘Class III’ gaming activity under the state compact. The new law permits betting on both college and professional sports, but all bettors must place their wagers in-person at one of two retail locations. North Carolina lawmakers are also considering a bill that would permit statewide sports betting.
Governor Jay Inslee signed Washington’s sports betting bill into law on March 25, 2020. The new law permits sports wagering at Class III tribal casinos in the state. Mobile sports wagering is not allowed statewide, but is permitted when on-site at a licensed tribal casino. Betting on an “esports competition or event” is allowed, but the new law bans wagering on games involving in-state colleges or minor league professional events. The new bill delegates regulatory oversight to the Washington State Gambling Commission.
After some back-and-forth between Governor Ralph Northam and the legislature, legalized sports wagering was approved in the Commonwealth of Virginia in April 2020. The new law has a July 1, 2020, effective date, although no firm start date for when operators can actually begin booking bets. Online betting is allowed, but wagering is not permitted on Virginia-based college sports or certain youth sports. The new legislation calls for a $250,000 permit fee and a tax rate equal to 15 percent of revenue.
In April 2020, two federally-recognized tribes reached agreement with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt on new gaming compacts that include sports betting. On June 8, 2020, Governor Stitt announced that the Department of the Interior had approved the compacts, paving the way for sports betting to start in Oklahoma as soon as the “compacts are published in the Federal Register.” Both gaming compacts allow retail-based sports betting, although no wagering would be allowed on in-state college sports. A bipartisan group of state lawmakers, along with Oklahoma’s attorney general, have expressed opposition to the expansion of sports betting in Oklahoma via the compacts.
Moving toward legalization
On the last day of the state’s legislative session — June 19, 2019 — Maine lawmakers passed “An Act to Ensure Proper Oversight of Sports Betting in the State.” Shortly thereafter, the governor vetoed the bill. The legislature could revive the bill with a special session or re-introduction next year. The current version permitted both retail and mobile betting. The bill prohibited betting on high school events and college contests involving Maine-based schools. However, wagering on “electronic sports” was allowed.
After enacting a scaled-down anticipatory law in 2017, Connecticut saw a comprehensive sports betting bill introduced during the first part of 2018. The state held hearings and received testimony from a variety of stakeholders, including representatives from the NBA and MLB. The state legislative session closed without a formal vote on the comprehensive bill. At the start of 2019, a new bill focused on “authorizing sports wagering” was introduced.
On June 25, 2017, Sen. Julian M. Carroll introduced a marked-up 27-page bill that would empower Kentucky’s racing commission to “institute a system of sports wagering.” The bill would allow betting on pro and college sports, but not high school or other adolescent amateur sports. It includes a hefty tax rate — 3 percent of handle — and an initial licensing fee of $250,000. The bill also permits sports league representatives to serve on the racing commission. Two additional bills were introduced during January 2019.
In February 2018, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission released a comprehensive 31-page white paper to provide a “roadmap for those seeking to learn about the current landscape of the sports betting discussion in the country and its possibilities in Massachusetts.” In January 2018, Senate bill 2273 was floated to study sports betting. A different bill to legalize and regulate sports betting was introduced November 2018. Massachusetts was one of the first jurisdictions to address the legality of daily fantasy sports and could conceivably move quickly on the sports betting front too. In January 2019, a number of sports betting legalization bills were introduced.
Maryland House Bill No. 989 was introduced on Feb. 9, 2018 and calls for the establishment of a task force to “study the implementation of sports gaming in the state.” The draft legislation includes the allocation of a “sports gaming license” and the ability to accept wagers on sporting events if the bettor is at least 21 years of age. The proposed Maryland legislation did not move forward in the 2018 legislative session.
In April 2018, a draft sports betting bill was circulated in the Minnesota legislature. Rep. Pat Garofalo was reportedly the strongest supporter of the bill, which would have authorized sports wagering and created an overseeing commission. The draft bill included a clause to enable mobile betting, too. The Minnesota legislature adjourned in May without any action on the bill.
In January 2018, Rep. Bart Korman introduced a new bill that would have allowed already-licensed riverboat casinos and daily fantasy companies to expand their offerings to include traditional sports betting. Legislative hearings were held in Missouri prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, but the bill did not advance beyond the committee stage. In January 2019, a number of new sports betting bills were introduced.
A proposed law “relating to sports gambling” was introduced January 2018. The bill would have expanded the purview of the Kansas lottery to sports betting involving “one or more competitive games in which amateur or professional athletes participate, or are intended to participate, or on one or more performances of such athletes in such games.” Kansas held sports betting hearings in the months before the Supreme Court issued its decision, but took no action afterward. Another bill was introduced January 2019.
A House bill was introduced in 2018 to authorize “additional games and sports betting at eligible live horse racing facilities.” The new legislation, which was introduced in March 2018, was narrowly tailored and would only have allowed sports betting at the small number of land-based racinos already operating in the state. The Louisiana bill did not move forward during the state’s legislative session.
34. South Carolina
Introduced in 2017, House Bill No. 3102 would have amended South Carolina’s Constitution to allow “sports betting on professional sports.” Any betting would have been “strictly” regulated and limited to “specified” areas. According to a court document from the now-resolved New York daily fantasy litigation involving DraftKings and FanDuel, South Carolina’s current definition of gambling “includes betting money on the outcome of any ‘game,’ regardless of the skill involved in the game.” The bill was not enacted prior to the close of the legislative session, but a new bill was introduced at the start of 2019.
In July 2017, Assembly member Adam Gray introduced a constitutional amendment that would allow the state “to permit sports wagering only if a change in federal law occurs.” The proposed amendment specifically referred to PASPA. “All other gaming activities in California are subject to regulations that ensure the safety of consumers,” Gray said in a press release. “Sports wagering should be treated no differently.” Within hours of the Supreme Court ruling, Gray reiterated his desire to further a pro-sports betting constitutional amendment. California also has a pending voter referendum that could legalize sports betting.
On July 12, 2018, a group of five Ohio state senators formally introduced a bill to “express the intent of the General Assembly to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.” The one-page bill lacks specifics, but is a placeholder of sorts for Ohio to consider full-scale legislation at a later date.
37. North Dakota
Introduced in January 2019, House Bill 1254 would authorize “sports betting as a game of chance” in the state. Oversight of sports betting would be the responsibility of the North Dakota Attorney General.
On Jan. 23, 2019, a trio of Arizona lawmakers introduced a new bill — SB 1158 — that would authorize federally recognized tribes with a gaming compact to “operate sports betting” in the state. The proposed law would prohibit others from offering sports betting. Under the bill, the definition of sports betting “does not include wagering on sporting events that is prohibited by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.”
House Bill No. 1107 was introduced in the Hawaii legislature in January 2019. According to the 21-page bill, “it is in the best interest of the State and its citizens to regulate this existing activity by authorizing and implementing a secure, responsible, and legal system for sports wagering.” The proposed bill would create a “Hawaii sports wagering corporation” for regulatory purposes.
40. South Dakota
On Jan. 25, 2019, over two dozen South Dakota lawmakers filed a joint resolution “[p]roposing and submitting to the voters an amendment to the Constitution of the State of South Dakota, providing for wagering on sporting events.” If enacted, the potential constitutional amendment permitting sports betting could be on the ballot in 2020.
On February 1, 2019, Representative Eddie Lucio III introduced a 15-page bill “relating to the regulation of sports betting.” Sports betting operators in Texas would be required to obtain a permit and pay a $250,000 fee. The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation would oversee sports betting under the proposed law. The bill would also mandate that a 6.25 percent tax be “imposed on each bet placed by a sports bettor.”
In early 2019, a 12-page bill was introduced in Georgia “to provide for sports betting in this state.” The bill would also establish a Georgia sports betting director position and “provide for the comprehensive regulation of sports betting and related activities.” Under the bill, betting is allowed on professional and college sports, but not youth sports. No more than 10 “sports betting permits” are allowed under the draft legislation.
Vermont legislator Thomas Burditt introduced an 18-page bill in February 2019 that “proposes to legalize sports wagering in Vermont.” Mobile betting is permitted, but licensed operators must employ technological measures to ensure that all bettors are physically located within the state at the time any wager is made. Certain types of betting would be banned under the bill, including wagering on high school sports and esports. Betting on college games in Vermont or involving Vermont-based universities would also be prohibited.
In early April 2019, a 44-page bill was introduced in Alabama that would “permit wagering on certain professional or collegiate sports or athletic events and other events.” Under the bill, a newly created Alabama Sports Wagering Commission would oversee regulation of sports wagering in the state. The proposed law would levy a 10 percent tax on sports wagering receipts of licensed operators.
On November 18, 2019, State Senator Jeff Brandes — a Republican from the Tampa area — filed a trio of bills centered on “specifying requirements for accepting wagers on sports events.” The draft bills would empower the Florida Lottery to oversee mobile sports betting in the state. Betting would be restricted to those 21 years of age or older. The bills will be considered during the 2020 legislative session, with a potential effective date of October 1, 2020.
In 2020, Alaska considered legislation that would legalize sports betting under the auspices of the state lottery. The bills — SB 199 and HB 246 — included sports betting as one of several types of wagering that could be authorized by the lottery.
Efforts to legalize sports betting in Wyoming died in early 2020. House bill 225 would have authorized online-only sports wagering in the state, but it was voted down by the legislature. The now-defeated bill would have prohibited prop bets on college sports and any sporting event involving a Wyoming college team.
In early 2020, Nebraska state senator Justin Wayne introduced a bill — LB 990 — to classify sports betting as “authorized games of skill.” The classification would exempt traditional sports wagering, certain fantasy sports, and poker from the state’s existing ban.
No legalization activity … yet
49-50. Idaho and Wisconsin
All states in this category have laws that prohibit full-blown sports betting. Such laws would need to be repealed or amended before full-scale sports wagering would be permitted. These states do not have any publicly announced bills devoted to sports betting legalization.
Utah’s anti-gambling stance is written into the state’s constitution. Any change to existing state policy toward gambling would be a massive departure from decades of opposition to any form of gambling, including lottery tickets, table games and sports betting.