May 14th, 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 Pointsbet promo code for example!
Texas Has A Failed Push to Expand Gambling
The Lone Star State has the population and the interest to be one of the biggest sports betting markets in the country. State Rep. Dan Huberty (R) knows this, but his most recent attempt to capture this market and bring some much needed revenue didn’t have the legs to move forward.
Two bills were making their way up the chain: Democrat-sponsored Senate Bill 736, and Republican-sponsored House Bill 2070. The former senate bill was referred to the Business & Commerce committee earlier in the year and flopped there when it was not scheduled for further debate. HB 2070 looked like it had decent support on both sides of the aisle, but scheduling and the nature of the TX constitution were major roadblocks to the bill.
In Texas, most forms of wagering are explicitly banned by the state’s constitution. In order to get a constitutional amendment enacted, you need two-thirds of the legislature to agree, after which the bill would go to a public vote. In the words of Texas Rep John Kuemple (R), “there’s no time” for the bill to pass in the 2021 session, which means Texans will have to wait until the legislature meets again in 2023.
Alabama’s Sports Betting Legislation Dead on Floor
Another historically conservative state that’s attempting to rein in sports betting revenue is Alabama, a state without much legal gambling at all. Governor Kay Ivey has publicly stated her intention to “clean up illegal gambling” in the Yellowhammer State, but successful lobbying against the practice (plus some legislative gridlock) has killed recent efforts to legalize sports wagering.
SB 319 was the intended bill to legalize the practice of sports betting in Alabama, and it seemed to have support until discussions about amending the bill started to take shape. House Dems wanted to amend the bill to expand gambling further than the initial scope of SB 319, but didn’t get the opportunity.
Echoing what happened in Texas, Alabama’s SB 319 didn’t get added to the schedule in time to be seriously considered, and the legislative session ends in late May. Unlike Texas, however, the debate over sports betting seems to be a lot more contentious, with frustrated lawmakers pointing fingers and clicking their teeth in admonishment on both sides.
It’s likely that the road to a legalized sports betting framework in Alabama is going to be a hard one, and we’re not expecting considerable movement until 2022.
Florida’s Seminoles Get Online Sports Betting (At A Cost)
Florida lawmakers will meet in the capitol for a special session this May. The topic of discussion will be a reworking of Florida’s current gambling agreements between the Seminole Tribe and the state itself. Additionally on the docket are a few bills intended to legalize, regulate, and tax online sports betting in the Sunshine State.
Governor DeSantis signed legislation in April 2021 that allowed the Seminole Tribe to conduct sports betting at their casino locations. Now that the scope of betting in FL is changing, lawmakers are looking at the current state of affairs and have opted to meet to discuss the fate of the gambling market.
In recent memory, Florida’s legalized gambling has largely centered around horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai alai, a fast-paced European sport that took a foothold in the state in the middle of the 20th century. The current argument is that these races and jai alai matches are actively bleeding Florida’s gambling industry dry, as racinos and operators have to host live events in order to legally offer other forms of gambling like card rooms or blackjack.
A major gambling provider in FL, the Seminole Tribe has to contend with a number of amendments being considered, some of which would cripple their ability to offer online betting. Other amendments might disrupt the entire horse racing industry: if racino operators are allowed to “decouple” their game offerings from live events like horse races or jai alai games, they would likely abandon said events to focus on the real moneymakers like card games and slots.
Additionally, one such amendment to Florida’s sports betting bill would require all sports wagering, including online wagering, to occur on tribal land, giving Florida one of the most strict “geofences” in the U.S. market. Nearly every jurisdiction allowing legal sports betting in the U.S. lets eligible users bet from anywhere within state borders, so requiring even online play to happen only on tribal land would massively limit revenue.
Any way you look at it, making sure all interested parties are satisfied with FL’s betting agreements won’t be easy. The U.S. Department of the Interior is getting involved as well, since this particular agreement will alter tribal compacts that are protected by federal law. We’ll update you as the situation progresses, but it’s expected that someone is going to come away from these agreements with the short straw.
Another One Bites The Dust: Missouri Doesn’t Move On Betting Bill
Missouri has tried and failed for years to enact some form of sports betting legislation. They’ve been at it ever since SCOTUS overturned PASPA in 2018, the law banning sports betting on a federal level. Senator Denny Hoskins’ SB 98 seemed like it would be able to move through the Senate relatively efficiently this year, but didn’t make the scheduling deadline to be considered before the end of MO’s legislative session.
There are numerous concerns regarding legal sports betting in Missouri, and a major one is staff. Mike Leara, Chairman of the Missouri Gaming Commission, is on record saying that even if sports betting were to move forward in the state, the commission simply “doesn’t have the staff on the books to do that”.
Still, Senator Hoskins and others continue their push for an expanded legal gambling framework in the state, something extending beyond video lottery terminals and the meager other forms of betting available in the Show-Me State. While unlikely to move forward this session, there’s enough support for legal wagering that it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine Missouri legalizing sports bets by 2022.
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.