For many years, if sports bettors in America wanted to place legal bets on sports, they traveled to Las Vegas or Reno. They could visit nearly any casino in the state, take a seat in the sportsbook, view the game odds on giant screens, and place their bets.
As of May 2018, a new era of sports betting began. The United States Supreme Court handed down a landmark ruling in the case of Murphy (New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy) vs NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) that overturned PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act). That 1992 law was ruled unconstitutional as a violation of the anti-commandeering clause of the US Constitution and an affront to state sovereignty.
In essence, PASPA was no longer valid, and states had the right to legalize and regulate sports betting as their constituents and lawmakers dictated.
Ready and Waiting
Several states had passed laws years prior to the 2018 ruling in the hopes that sports betting would eventually become legal. Other states were ready with legislation to debate and pass as soon as the US Supreme Court made its decision, as most experts believed it would end with the result it did.
Delaware was actually the first state to update its law and authorize sports betting at its racinos. And days later, New Jersey took its victory lap and passed its own updated bill, which was quickly signed into law and implemented. Delaware and New Jersey bettors were in action in June 2018.
The following months saw other states pass and/or implement their laws in various forms. Mississippi and West Virginia didn’t hesitate, nor did Rhode Island and Arkansas.
New York and Connecticut have forms of sports betting laws in place, but both need to address outdated information and make some decisions before passing updated bills so sports betting can officially begin for people in their states.
Possibilities for 2019
More than a dozen states have indicated more than just a passing interest in legalizing sports wagering within their respective borders in 2019.
Longtime gaming writer Jennifer Newell, editor of LegalUSPokerSites.com, has been watching the US gaming market for more than a decade. “No form of online gaming has the kind of momentum we’ve seen with sports betting. Internet poker and casino games have been successful for states like New Jersey, but there are millions of dollars in revenue awaiting states that implement a sports betting regulatory framework. It is likely that at least 10 more states will cash in on that bet in 2019.”
There are several states, in addition to Connecticut and New York, that are likely to tackle sports wagering within the first few months of the year. Michigan and Illinois have been analyzing bills for months and are likely to move forward with them when the new legislative session begins. Massachusetts may be included in that first round as well.
Kentucky has shown bipartisan support for legal sports betting. Lawmakers in several other states have also indicated a desire to look at proposals in the new session. It won’t be a surprise to see that happen in Missouri, Indiana, Virginia, Tennessee, Iowa, Ohio, Maryland, and Oklahoma.
Even California, which agonized over online poker bills for more than a decade with no resolution, may be able to find consensus among all stakeholders to legalize sports betting in 2019.
Newell, whose specialty has been online poker, explained, “Lawmakers worked so hard in California to overcome obstacles for online poker, even finding peace with horse racing tracks, but there was one major sticking point keeping Native American tribes and card room owners from agreement: PokerStars. Simply put, tribal leaders wanted PokerStars kept out of the market, but card room owners wanted them in. And while BetStars, PokerStars’ sister company, will likely be a player in the sports betting market, there won’t be the same competition in the sports betting market as in online poker. In addition, BetStars’ parent company recently signed a major deal with the NBA, which may work to legitimize them in the eyes of some tribes. California has a serious chance of joining the sports betting world in 2019.”
More than a dozen states are in play for 2019 with regard to sports betting. Some will authorize it only for land-based racinos and casinos, while others will include apps or online wagering options. Regardless of the details, the number of states in America offering sports betting is almost guaranteed to double in the coming year. You can bet on it.