Last Updated Jul 26, 2021, 4:03 PM
Weekly News - 04/23/2021
THIS WEEK IN LEGAL SPORTS BETTING — MOVEMENT ALL ACROSS THE BOARD!
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April 23rd, 2021 Weekly Report
Legal sports betting news has been especially busy this week, with spring bringing some big moves.
If you want to find our more on some major topics not covered in this article you can check out the rest of VegasInsider with our exclusive bet365 bonus code, BetMGM bonus code or William Hill promo code for example!
- Arizona Moves Forward
- Nebraska Adds Collegiate Sports
- Florida Gaining Momentum
- Ohio looking to Advance through Lottery
- Status in Massachusetts
- Final Thoughts
ARIZONA MOVES FORWARD WITH SPORTS BETTING TIMELINE
On April 15, 2021, Arizona became the next state to finalized a legal sports betting framework. After legislation was signed last week to allow for Arizona online sports betting by Gov. Doug Ducey, the next challenge became the regulation and oversight of the industry.
Provisions in the signed bill include an expansion of tribal gaming in the state through amended tribal contracts, legalization of paid Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) contests, and legalization of sports betting, both through mobile apps and brick-and-mortar locations (including existing tribal casinos and sports venues like the Phoenix Suns arena)
The regulatory task belongs to the Arizona Department of Gaming, who has already overseen the state’s tribal casino industry, and will now be the commission in charge of regulating and facilitating legal bets in the Grand Canyon State. We’re in the early stages of this process, as the ADG has 60 days (from April 15th) to establish a ruleset for DFS and event wagering.
What does this mean for bettors in Arizona? As the ADG will require 60 days to establish their ruleset, the time for public comments and amendments won’t begin until July 2021. Comment periods, as according to Arizona legislature, should not last more than 45 days. Therefore, eager bettors will likely not be able to start placing legal bets until the beginning of the 2021-2022 NFL season.
NEBRASKA SPORTS BETTING LEGISLATION ADDS COLLEGIATE SPORTS
Nebraska has its toes on the cliff of the legalized sports betting industry, with one more push needed to take it over the edge. Nebraska Legislature Bill 561 is the piece of legislation that would bring a legal betting framework to the Cornhusker State, and was just recently amended to include bets on collegiate sporting events.
An important caveat to note with the Nebraska bill? There is no provision for online wagering of any kind. The legislature is in session until early June, so hopefully legislators are able to again amend the bill to allow for online bets-- but it’s not looking likely.
Nebraska, as you may be aware, is a historically conservative state, the likes of which always have a difficult time pushing through legislation on “vices”: gambling, alcohol, etc. However, as studies have shown time and again that regulating is better, safer, and cheaper than criminalizing, more historically conservative states are moving towards legalized betting frameworks.
Online wagering is a tricky issue, mostly because it decentralizes gambling venues and allows for betting to happen anywhere within the state. Many lawmakers are opposed to this even today, so we’re not likely to see Nebraska go live with online bets this year. Still, bettors are expected to be able to place bets at retail locations on all their favorite sports, including bets on collegiate sports and props on college athletes over the age of 18.
FLORIDA SPORTS BETTING GAINING SERIOUS MOMENTUM
Like many states, providing legalized betting is a two-pronged process: both tribal leaders and state legislators need to approve. The reason for this is long and storied, but simply, tribal commissions and groups all throughout the country must, by federal law, be allowed to provide real-money gambling without too much oversight from the state in which their tribal lands are located.
Florida is no different, with the Seminole Tribe of Florida being a major player in the betting industry. Thanks to recent agreements between Gov. DeSantis and the Tribe itself, it’s becoming increasingly likely that the Sunshine State will be able to put legal betting on the books very soon-- perhaps as soon as next week.
At the moment, only parimutuel-style gambling is allowed at tribal-owned venues in the state. Seminole Tribe leaders were unhappy with being left out of the conversation earlier in 2021, but now have come to a seeming agreement with the governor. All parties involved are under considerable pressure with the legislative session ending on April 30th-- some argue that things have actually moved too fast in FL, leading to a less-than-ideal framework.
The way things are appearing to pan out, it’s looking like Florida will go with the controversial single-operator framework, allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida and Hard Rock locations to go live with a single “skin”, sources report. Other states such as Oregon have tried the single-operator framework and moved away from it, so it’s anybody’s guess whether this notoriously uncompetitive model will be adopted by the state.
OHIO LOBBYISTS WANT SPORTS BETTING THROUGH LOTTO
The Ohio Senate Select Commission on Gaming recently tabulated their data from well-known geolocation service Geocomply. Bad news, Ohio-- you are losing a ton of money!
Data shows that nearly 900,000 gaming-related transactions had occurred within 10 miles of the Ohio state border during March Madness this year: even if each of those transactions were from $1-$5, that’s still an upper limit of $4.5 million leaving the state. Ohio legislators want those dollars to remain in the state, of course, so the next logical step is to legalize the practice. But who should run the show?
These data points continue to be cited by local businesses in support of a legal betting framework, whom have lobbied to make sure that the Ohio Lottery is in charge of oversight of the potential sports betting legislation. With casino regulators and not the lottery at the helm, local businesses providing lottery products like Keno would be mostly left out of the deal.
It’s expected that mobile platforms will take up the majority of the revenue share for sports betting in the Buckeye State, with the remaining pittance of in-person sales going to locations with lottery terminals. Enter another contender, Ohio sports teams, whom have also expressed a desire to “get in on the action” by offering retail sportsbooks at arenas and venues for Ohio-based professional teams.
Any way you look at it, Ohio is not in any position to get a law on the books just yet-- the state cannot even agree on who should oversee the process, how many licenses will be handed out, etc. Smart money is on Ohio sports betting not coming to fruition for a while, as the legislative session lasts nearly all year, and there’s much to be hammered out.
WILL MASSACHUSETTS SETTLE ON A SPORTS BETTING BILL?
Looks like the Bay State will definitely move forward with sports betting, but there’s a bit of legislative chaos at the moment. Ask a different senator and you’ll get a different answer as to where the process stands in MA: there are over 20 proposed bills for sports betting waiting in the wings to be reviewed and signed.
Meanwhile, the Massachusetts Council on Gaming and Health argues that the process is far from over. Executive Director of the MCGH, Marlene Warner, is on record saying “We took a while and we took our time to implement placing casinos here in Massachusetts, so I think sports wagering should be no different.”
Others like Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano (D) feel that the clock is ticking. argues that MA doesn’t want to be “over-reliant on federal assistance”, touting the potential revenue as a solid reason to legalize sports betting in the Commonwealth. It won’t be a moment too soon-- Massachusetts is essentially land-locked by states with pending or fully realized sports betting legislation. Connecticut is on its way to legalizing, Rhode Island and New Hampshire are already there, with its western neighbor New York expected to go live in the near future.
Being that there are now 23 bills in the MA legislature regarding sports betting, including one under the governor’s own sponsorship, the question is not “if”, but “when, and how”. Council executives and state lawmakers need to agree on how the process will be done with safety and transparency a primary concern. With everything we’re hearing, we don’t expect Massachusetts to put sportsbooks on the docket until this fall at the very earliest.
As is apparent from the above, quite a few states are ready and willing to move their sports betting legislations into the next phase, none without difficulty. From committee oversight to community issues with the chosen licensing entity and more, there are plenty of reasons why these bills haven’t moved forward previously. However, all states mentioned here are expected to definitely move forward with legal wagering on sporting events-- it’s only a matter of time.
Written by Chris Altman, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.
Chris Altman is a traveling writer and content expert with almost a decade of experience. In his spare time, he enjoys gardening, tinkering, and occasionally writes short stories about dogs and space. On a good day, you’ll find him slung over a laptop keyboard in whatever establishment has the best chicken wings.