Sports Betting in the States: Not a Clean Sweep
States are embracing legalized sports betting with varying degrees of success. While this spring’s SCOTUS decision paved the way for states to pursue sports betting within their borders, their responses to date have ranged from rapt enthusiasm to skeptical uncertainty.
While some states’ denizens are already enjoying legal sports betting, others are waiting while bills remain tied up in state legislatures. Here is a round-up of some the latest developments as the states scramble to adjust to a post PASPA world.
In New York, the legislature is set to come to a close with a legal sports betting bill still on the table. “I think any chance of reaching full agreement is dead,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said. “Right now, I don’t see a final compromise on that.” For weeks, pundits in the state’s capital have been skeptical that lawmakers could cut a last-minute deal on the legislation. Governor Andrew Cuomo, for his part, said there wasn’t enough time to get it done. It looks like he was right.
The first weekend of legal sports betting in New Jersey defied the critics who predicted that providing new ways to bet on sports would negatively affect existing profits. On the contrary, the Asbury Park Press reported that Monmouth Park was “not cannibalized” by sports betting, and in fact saw positive results on all fronts. Don Drazin, CEO of Darby Development, which operates the track, said the “numbers have been very strong… I think this shows you sports betting is not going to cannibalize our product. In fact, it makes it even stronger when we have more people there doing both.”
The Rhode Island General Assembly just overwhelmingly approved an appropriations bill that permits legalized sports betting. The Senate is expected to pass the appropriations bill next week which Governor Gina Raimondo will sign off on. The Governor’s budget predicts sports betting will add $23.5 million in revenue to the state’s coffers. Apparently, the Rhode Island legislators finalized the deal with the state’s two tribal-owned casinos before budget deliberations began.
It’s slow going in California, where legislation will be considered late this year. Last month, State Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced a bill to legalize sports betting that was originally going to be considered this summer. Now the bill has been postponed and tribe-owned casinos are set to become major players in the upcoming debate. Greg Sarris, tribal chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, said it’s too soon to tell considering “neither the tribe’s government nor the state has adopted or promulgated any legislation relating to sports betting.”
This New England state is also taking a wait-and-see approach. While Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters that despite some push from local lawmakers, he does not see sports betting coming to the state until 2019. “I think it would be very hard for us to go from zero to 100 mph in the course of 40 days when there’s so much other stuff in front of the Legislature,” Baker said. That’s bad news for DraftKings, which is currently lobbying in the state.
As state legislators scramble to finalize the Pennsylvania budget by July 1, they’re all counting on new profits from sports betting—to the tune of $100 million. It sounds like a conservative estimate, considering full casino licenses and sports betting licenses cost $10 million each in the state. Plus, the legislature estimated $200 million in sports betting profits last year. Why the lowered estimate? Probably because the state has not collected on anything yet.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed a gaming bill that references sports betting this week, but bill author Rep. Brandt Iden thinks a second bill is required to specifically address sports wagering. While the passed bill addresses parameters for online fantasy sports, a second bill would address how land-based casinos will be able to offer sports betting, too. “A follow up is required and, now that we have the votes on this issue, I know I can put forth additional legislation and have people be supportive,” Iden said.
For a graphic illustration of the states currently considering sports betting legislation, with and without mobile gaming provisions, check out our map here.