Ever since the United States Supreme Court overturned a decades-old federal ban on certain forms of betting in 2018, numerous states across the country have moved to legalize online gambling.
This has led to a veritable gold rush in the online gambling sector in America as more and more states seek to capitalize on the new revenue streams this development opens up. At the same time, we are also seeing an ever-expanding number of online gambling platforms either setting up shop in the U.S. for the first time, or finally extending their overseas operations here.
Unfortunately, however, this wave of liberalization has not been experienced evenly across the country. Despite so many states enthusiastically passing legislative frameworks regulating gambling, others have proved to be laggards.
According to the latest figures from the American Gaming Association — which was founded in 1994 to promote, educate and advocate reform in the gaming entertainment, gambling and sports betting industries — around 40 states and the District of Columbia have either introduced or are considering introducing sports betting legislation.
Of these 40 states, the majority have made sports betting live and legal — which essentially means that consumers can now access sportsbooks at retail locations or through online platforms. In three of these states, sportsbooks are currently legal but not yet operational, including Florida, Nebraska and Ohio. While in seven states — Alaska, California, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri and Oklahoma — state legislators have either pre-filed, introduced bills or promised to hold referendums on legalizing sports betting.
Although some states remain committed to their decision not to legalize sports betting, this latest figure marks a sharp contrast to the status quo before the 2018 Supreme Court decision, where sportsbooks were only able to operate legally in the state of Nevada.
As a sign of just how much has changed since 2018, Americans have wagered an estimated $125bn on sports through legal gambling outlets since the Supreme Court ruled on this matter.
The popularity of sports betting among fans is mirrored by many professional sporting leagues. The rush of online sportsbooks and gambling operators to set up across the US since 2018 has been followed by an influx of advertising spending as they seek to establish their brands.
However, the fact that sports teams are receiving hundreds of millions in advertising revenue as they partner with high-profile sportsbook platforms creates a potential issue for those few states who have thus far failed to legalize sports betting. With online sportsbooks getting more and more exposure, these states might risk losing out on the opportunities this fast-moving industry presents.
According to the latest figures, there are currently nine states that either do not have or are not intending to introduce legislation that would legalize and regulate sports betting. These states include Vermont, Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Maine, Kentucky, Idaho, Alabama, and Alaska.
Interestingly, although perhaps not necessarily unexpectedly, of the regions proving the most resistant to this trend towards legalization, Midwestern states stand out.
Although there are undoubtedly a number of complex historical, cultural, political and even religious reasons for this, let’s take a quick look at what the status of sports betting is in these states.
Sports betting has been legal in South Dakota since September 2021. However, this only extends to retail betting as online wagering is still off limits. Although the monthly handles have shown positive growth, it is unclear whether South Dakota is likely to open up online sports betting in the coming months.
The legality of sports betting in North Dakota is somewhat confusing. It was authorized in tribal casinos in December 2021 and has undergone a number of failed attempts to broaden this to other settings since 2019. A wider rollout has failed to pass, and it looks as if the legislative momentum has slowed for the time being.
Kansas legalized sports betting in 2022 when the Governor signed a bill into law which regulates various forms of gambling. Under the terms of this bill, online sports betting can begin on January 1st, 2023, with operators contemplating November/December launch dates.
Unfortunately for the many Missourian sports fans, state legislators have so far failed to legalize sports betting in Missouri. Despite numerous bills, a much publicized filibuster and various attempts to bridge the political aisle, little progress has been made in 2022 with the prospects for 2023 not appearing to be much brighter.
Sports betting has been authorized in Nebraska at certain retail locations, with further limitations in place on the sports that can legally be wagered on. Although technically legal, certain issues with implementation mean a mid-to-late 2023 rollout is likely.
Governor Mike DeWine signed legislation legalizing sports betting in December 2021, with mobile and online services due to start in late 2022.
Sports betting was authorized in November 2021, however, this was limited to in-person, retail locations. Online sports betting is not authorized, and no national sportsbook brand has negotiated a deal with the state’s tribes as of yet.
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