Who’s next? More US states are certain to relax their gambling laws over the coming months

Over the past three years, gambling legislation has been a hot topic, with one state after another instigating legal reforms. When the Supreme Court decided to overturn PASPA in early 2018, there was a flurry of activity to push through sports book legislation, and many states also took the opportunity to modify their rules regarding casino gaming and online betting. 

As a result, betting is no longer the fringe activity that it was a few years ago in the USA, permitted in only a handful of places. Given the wider events of the past year, states are facing multi million dollar budget deficits, and the tax revenue that gambling can generate is yet another driver for reform. Florida has been the most recent state to push through new laws, which will allow, among other things, online betting. More states seem certain to follow over the coming months. 


Hot off the press, Louisiana has pushed through new sports betting legislation with lightning speed. As a state famed for its unique casino culture, the logistics of getting a sports betting framework in place were always going to be easier here than elsewhere. The state’s first sportsbooks went live on November 01 at casinos across the state. Commentators predict this could herald a golden age for Louisiana’s gambling industry, as the sports betting is likely to attract visitors from neighboring states, and thereby boost casino footfalls and revenue in general. This will be particularly welcome after understandably lean times in 2020/21. 

New York 

Seen as one of the more progressive states (they famously legalized weed earlier this year), it might seem surprising that New York has still to embrace online casino gaming. The state is already home to more than 30 casinos and racinos, but there are none in cyberspace. New York was hit harder than most by the lockdowns of recent months, and residents have shifted many of their shopping and leisure pursuits online. They are impatient to take advantage of the bonuses and promos like the ones here, while the state can no longer ignore the potential revenue that online gambling could bring. Change is sure to come, and it’s likely to be sooner rather than later. 


State Governor Ned Lamont will have been watching events in Florida with even more interest than most. There are certainly parallels in Connecticut, where gambling is also in the exclusive hands of Native American tribes. Last month, sports betting was added to the tribal-state compact and Lamont has indicated before that he wants to introduce online wagering, too. Now that Florida has found a way around the “only gambling on tribal land” question by having the servers in on the tribal reservations, he will be keen to push ahead and it could even be in place by the end of 2021.   


The Hoosier State was one of the early movers when it came to legalizing sports betting, and has limited land-based casino gaming. Expanding the offering to online betting and gaming was on the back burner, but has now been pushed close to the top of the agenda by Senator Jon Ford. He believes that online casinos would boost state coffers to the tune of more than $50 million per year.  


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Here’s a state that’s stuck somewhat in limbo at the moment. Maryland formally legalized sports betting last summer, but has yet to implement the new rules, which are restricted to land-based sports books. Already, however, there are murmurings that they need to go further, probably prompted by the success that neighboring states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Delaware have enjoyed since implementing their own reforms, and the revenue they have generated. Meanwhile, sports enthusiasts are impatiently waiting for at least the in-person facilities to go live. The state’s Regulatory Review Committee met again last week and is expected to formally green light five venues before the year is out.  


Another state that has passed new gambling laws but is in no hurry to implement them is Nebraska. Games of chance were legalized a little more than a year ago, but lawmakers are still deliberating over the finer points of the wording, so there will be no grand casino opening ceremony in Omaha any time soon. In May, sports betting was also legalized, and the signs are that this will be rolled out while the casinos are still on the drawing board. There are already six major horse race meetings scheduled for 2022, kicking off with a 37 day extravaganza at Fonner Part from February 19 to May 21. There are also plans for a new purpose built racetrack in Omaha, with construction due to start in the coming weeks.  


Here’s another state where gambling is legal on tribal lands only. Last month, Governor Kevin Stitt agreed new compacts with two tribes, meaning sports betting is now permitted, but again only on tribal land. There’s no indication of Oklahoma going with online betting any time soon.  


This state has been vociferous in support of reform, but progressing it through the legal system has been stymied every step of the way. The sports betting bill first passed and then vetoed in 2019 seems destined to get another airing in 2022, and those close to the senate feel this will be the year that it gains real traction. Sports betting in Maine by the end of next year could be a reality.  


Again, the focus is very much on sports betting in Massachusetts. Here’s a state where sport is always at the top of the agenda, and with four of Massachusetts’ five states now having legalized sports betting, it is surely only a matter of time. State Senator Eric Lesser describes the topic as a “top tier issue” on which lawmakers have been working “on a daily basis.” While there is no formal timetable, rumors persist that lawmakers could act on this at short notice, and legalization might even be pushed through before the end of the year. 

Disclaimer: This content does not necessarily represent the views of IWB.


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