Weekly News – 01/05/2021
THIS WEEK IN LEGAL SPORTS BETTING - 2021 PREVISIONS AND FLORIDA ENDS GREYHOUND RACING
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January 5th, 2021 Weekly Report
It is crazy to say, but we have finally entered the new year! And, with the new year, comes a lot of legal sports betting news. Which states are looking to make big moves in the online sports betting world? Keep reading to find out!
- States Looking to Make a Move in 2021
- Most Likely to Legalize in 2021 : MA, CT, OH
- Other States in Discussion : AK, AZ, KS, ME, MO
- Beginning Stages of Legalizing : AL, CA, FL, GA, OK, SC
- Florida Moves to End Greyhound Racing
ARE STATES LOOKING TO MAKE MOVES IN LEGAL SPORTS BETTING IN 2021?
As of this week, there are around seven states in the country that are looking to legalize sports betting in the new year. Plus, there are six additional states that are anticipated to bring up the topic during legislative sessions this year. These legislative sessions can begin as early as this month.
In 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. By overturning PASPA, the country’s effective ban on sports betting was overturned. This left the decision to have legal sports betting up to the states themselves.
Since the overturning of PASPA, over half of the states in the United States have taken advantage of the opportunity and have legalized sports betting in some form. Now, because of hardships seen in the United States in 2020, many states are eyeing to make sports betting moves. The revenue that could come in to states from legal sports betting could help many struggling states turn the corner.
STATES MOST LIKELY TO LEGALIZE SPORTS BETTING IN 2021 — MASSACHUSETTS, CONNECTICUT, AND OHIO
There are two states in particular who seem poised to legalize sports betting for themselves this year, in 2021. These states are Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In fact, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has already indicated that he supports the legalization of Tribal sportsbooks in the state. As a result, Tribes in the state have begun to prepare for the expansion and legalization of Connecticut sports betting. And, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has also thrown his support behind legal sports betting in the state. He even went as far as to include legal sports betting in his budget proposal for 2021.
However, the Massachusetts Legislature left out the legal sports betting budget in the 2021 proposal as the draft was finalized. But, the state's Legislature did make sure to find a space for legal Massachusetts sports betting as a revenue source when it came to next year, for 2022’s fiscal budget. This inclusion comes as strong evidence that sports betting will be legalized in the state of Massachusetts during the 2021 session of the state legislature.
Now, many sports betting fans expected Ohio to legalize the pastime in the year 2020. So, now many are wondering if 2021 is the year Ohio will join the ranks of states with legal sports betting. Sub. Senate Bill 111 was expected to pass in the state legislature last year. The bill was heralded as near perfect due to the fact that it sought to accommodate all of the worries lawmakers had had about legal sports betting in the state. But, the bill did not receive the floor time it needed for approval in 2020 for the state legislature.
However, because of the support behind Sub. Senate Bill 111, the Ohio Legislature has ample information on the topic of legal sports betting. So, it is very likely that a comparable bill can and will be proposed to the state legislature this year, in 2021. That means that the state could see legal Ohio sports betting in a matter of months if approved.
OTHER STATES LOOKING INTO LEGAL SPORTS BETTING IN 2021 — ALASKA, ARIZONA, KANSAS, MAINE, AND MISSOURI
The states of Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Maine, as well as Missouri all made moves in 2020 that indicated legal sports betting was near. So, it would not be surprising if any or all of these states saw legal sports betting this year.
Back in 2020, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy himself proposed the legalization of sportsbooks in the state. This is in addition to other forms of Alaska legal gambling as well. However, due to the fact that the legislative session in the state was cut short last year, legal Alaska sports betting had to wait.
The state of Arizona saw some similar progress towards legal Arizona sports betting in 2020. However, the state was unable to resolve whether it wanted a Tribal only market or a more open, all-encompassing legal sports betting market. But, this stalemate is expected to resolve this year, bringing legal sports betting to Arizona finally. The Tribes in Arizona have their fingers crossed that the legislation that will pass will be in their favor, giving them a full share of the sports betting market in the state.
The state of Kansas fluctuated between two different bills that would legalize sports betting in the state. However, both of these bills would need amendments before Kansas Governor Laura Kelly would consider enacting the legislation. And, these amendments clearly did not occur in enough time to legalize sports betting in the state last year. But, it is expected that the Legislature will want to look at legal Kansas sports betting early on in the new year.
The state of Maine saw the passage of a legal Maine sports betting bill last year. However, the governor of Maine, Janet Mills, vetoed the bill. Even though the state’s governor dealt a critical blow to legal sports betting in the state, all hope is not lost. The passage of the bill in the Maine State Legislature indicates an overwhelming amount of support for legal sports betting in the state.
The state of Missouri had been making progress towards legal sports betting in 2020. However, a national crisis forced the state to put the legal Missouri sports betting progress on the backburner. So, it is expected that the state of Missouri will pick right back up where it left off in the new year. Meaning, we could see legal sports betting legislation introduced to the state’s legislature some time this year.
STATES IN THE BEGINNING STAGES OF LEGAL SPORTS BETTING — ALABAMA, CALIFORNIA, FLORIDA, GEORGIA, OKLAHOMA, AND SOUTH CAROLINA
Six states have shown themselves to be new standouts in the battle for legal sports betting in the United States. The states are Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. These states have indicated their support for legal sports betting in multiple ways. These ways have included talking about drawing up proposals for legal sports betting in their legislative sessions or even pre-filing.
The typically conservative state of Alabama has long shown opposition when it comes to any and all forms of legal gambling in the state for many years. However, a compelling recent study found that annually, the state could see around $700 million in revenue from a legal gaming industry. $10 million of this revenue would be due to legal sports betting in Alabama, according to the study.
Both the California Coalition to Authorize Sports Wagering as well as the California Nations Indian Gaming Association have made moves to get sports betting legalized in the state. The groups submitted a petition to the state government with the necessitated amount of signatures required to see legal sports betting on the ballot in November 2022. This would give California residents the chance to vote to legalize sports betting themselves. If legal sports betting finds a spot on the November 2022 ballot and passes, California could have legal sports betting come the year 2023.
There is currently already a pre-filed legal sports betting bill in the state of Florida. In the bill, legal sports betting in the state would be run by the Florida Lottery. However, Florida’s Seminole Tribe is expected to oppose this pre-filed bill. The Seminole Tribe is expected to come up with their own bill that would make the Tribes of the state of Florida the sole operators of legal sportsbooks in the state. This would prevent commercial sportsbooks from operating in the state of Florida.
The state of Georgia has been looking into legalizing mobile-only sports betting in the state. The state’s legislature is expected to see a few gaming bills for casino games as well as retail and mobile sportsbooks in the year 2021. However, lawmakers expect that the best avenue for legal sports betting in the state could be one that looks an awful lot like the model from Tennessee. The state of Tennessee currently has an online only operating legal sports betting market.
A model like this would allow the state of Georgia to roll out legal sportsbooks in the state without having to amend their constitution. Plus, the Georgia Lottery would be able to regulate the legal sports betting industry in the state, which would allow live operators to open up faster.
The governor of Oklahoma, Kevin Stitt, has been criticized as overplaying his hand when it comes to legalizing sports betting in the state. Last year in 2020, he legalized sports betting throughout the state. He did this through the Tribal Gaming Compacts of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe as well as the Comanche Nation.
However, this move was soon challenged in court. The result was the voiding of the sportsbook expansions enacted by the governor. This is because the move was seen as skipping over the entire legislation process of legalizing sports betting in the state’s legislature. But, considering the struggles the state has been facing financially in addition to the clear support from the governor, legal sports betting still has legs in the state.
The state of South Carolina has also thrown its hat into the legal sports betting ring. The state has already filed House Joint Resolution 3395. House Joint Resolution 3395 would amend the state’s constitution. This amendment would legalize sports betting in the state of South Carolina.
But, residents of South Carolina should not expect legal sports betting this year. The amendment would not be enacted until the year 2022. So, legal sports betting would most likely not launch in the state until the following year, 2023.
As of right now, the 2021state legislature session hopes to put together a committee that would study the effects that the legalization of sports betting would have in South Carolina. Then, the studies’ findings would be available for use during the 2022 state legislature session. And, the findings could prove instrumental in getting sports betting legalized in South Carolina in 2022.
FLORIDA MOVES TO END GREYHOUND RACING — HAS THE SPORT ENTERED ITS LAST DAYS?
On Thursday December 31st, 2020, Florida saw what would be the last of its greyhound races for the time being, or potentially, forever. The last big win for Florida greyhound racing came in the form of the fastest dog, a greyhound named Bug Brush. This triumphant final greyhound race was held in West Palm Beach at the Palm Beach Kennel Club — a fitting end to the sport’s run in the state.
It was just over twenty five months ago that Florida residents voted to approve Amendment 13. Amendment 13, which outlaws greyhound races beginning in the new year (2021), passed with an overwhelming amount of support. The passage of Amendment 13 is tantamount to a nail in the proverbial coffin of greyhound racing in the United States. So, where does the century-old tradition stand now in the states?
Humane Society Director for the state of Florida, Kate MacFall, explained the situation recently. “Florida was the mecca, the base, the largest state with the most tracks. Now, the industry has withered.” The Humane Society of Florida was particularly pleased with the end of the popular sport in the state.
Now that Florida is officially done with greyhound racing, the sport in the United States has been dealt a huge blow. The state of Florida was previously home to eleven of the seventeen total dog tracks in operation in the United States as of last year. In 2018, back when Amendment 13 was first passed, six states still had greyhound racing in operation.
However, earlier in 2020, the tracks in both Alabama and Texas both closed for good. Now, with the closure of the eleven greyhound tracks in Florida, there are just four legally operating greyhound tracks in the country. These four tracks operate out of three states, which are Iowa, Arkansas, and West Virginia.
The decline of the popularity of greyhound racing can be attributed to a couple of factors. However, the main factor has been a change in societal views when it comes to animal cruelty. The sport has been targeted as a breeding ground for cruelty to animals, with opponents of the sport arguing that the dogs live in too close, cramped housing and face difficult work conditions.
The executive director for the National Greyhound Association, the dog racing industry’s umbrella group, is Jim Gartland. Even Mr. Garland was not hopeful when it came to the future of greyhound racing in the United States. Garland recently stated, "I hate to say it, I hate to even think about it. It may be five years down the road, it may be 10 years down the road, but it's definitely a possibility [that greyhound racing will end in the states.] It’s horrible. It’s very sad. I’ve had people in this industry I’ve watched cry over these past couple of months."
By comparison, in the United States in the late 1980s, the country had more than sixty greyhound racetracks in operation. Greyhound racetracks were in operation in states like Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont.
Patrick Rooney Jr. the Palm Beach Kennel Club president whose family owned the greyhound racetrack since the late 60s has been quoted as saying that “dog racing was not long for this world. Anything with an animal component to it is going to have a difficult time surviving in this society that we are becoming. We are being more sensitive to, whether real or imagined, the feelings of animals and how they're treated." Patrick Rooney Jr. also theorized that in addition to dog racing, the traditional rodeo as well as horse racing are also potentially on the chopping block.
With Florida’s new ban’s activation in 2021, it is estimated that forty one states in the country now have anti-greyhound racing laws in place.
Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise.
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