Heading into the 2023 legislative session, there was no slam dunk sports betting legislation to grow the legalized US market.
But after sessions wrapped up, three states successfully passed sports betting legislation to expand the US map. Kentucky and Vermont legalized sports betting, while North Carolina passed an online expansion.
Now, the legalized US sports betting map includes 38 states and Washington, DC. There were also several close calls in 2023, setting up a few possibilities heading into the 2024 legislative sessions.
Kentucky success surprises sports betting world
Following a successful House journey in 2022, Kentucky proponents were hopeful in 2023. Still, they feared the odd-year 30-day session that required two-thirds majority vote would kill the issue.
Instead, Rep. Kyle Meredith’s HB 551 flew through the House and Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer found the votes to pass the Senate.
Gov. Andy Beshear signed sports betting into law in March. Kentucky sportsbooks launched in September in time for NFL betting.
North Carolina adds online sports betting
While there are three tribal in-person sportsbooks in North Carolina, heading into 2023, the state’s appetite for online expansion was up in the air. But a strong push prior to the session helped set up the successful effort.
Legislators worked out their small differences and passed online sports betting in NC. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed online sports betting into law in June.
Lawmakers threw in a wrench, however, by altering the settled sports betting law in September. The change requires sportsbooks to partner with professional sports organizations to secure market access, rather than access licensure through the state.
Regulators are working to launch sportsbooks before the required date of June 14, with sportsbook partnerships shaping up in the Tar Heel State.
Vermont prepares to go live
Vermont lawmakers flirted with sports betting over the years, and proponents pushed the issue over the hump in 2023.
Scott signed sports betting into law in June. Three sportsbooks are lined up for launch January 11.
Will 2023 sports betting legislation failures become 2024 hopefuls?
With all the low-hanging fruit (and then some) off the board, 2024 could be a year where no state legalizes sports betting. Still, there are a few states that lined up decent efforts in 2023 that could pull it off in 2024.
- Alabama: Lawmakers sat on legislation in 2023, hoping to inform freshman legislators for a 2024 push. While a strong effort is on the horizon, the lack of any gaming in the state poses an uphill battle for proponents.
- Georgia: Divisive partisan politics in Georgia kept sports betting from passing again. Little looks ripe for change in 2024.
- Minnesota: Democrat-Farmer-Labor legislators left sports betting off a giant package of platform issues that passed in 2023. They did, however, get horse racing tracks and gaming tribes together to begin negotiating a deal necessary for passage in 2024.
- Missouri: An effort made it through the House for a second straight year, but Sen. Denny Hoskins remained a roadblock. Hoskins pledges the same result in 2024.
- Oklahoma: Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to propose sports betting plans without input from the state’s tribes, which control gaming exclusivity in Oklahoma. Legislators and tribal leaders alike are displeased with the lack of communication.
- South Carolina: A bill was introduced in 2023 but failed to budge. While North Carolina’s expansion could sway some legislators in the state, South Carolina likely needs Georgia legalization to change minds that are morally opposed to gaming, according to sources.
- Texas: Sports betting passed the House but Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick decided the issue would not be considered by the Senate. Texas meets every other year, so lawmakers will not vote on the issue again until 2025 at the earliest. Despite plenty of billionaire support in the state, Patrick has already thrown cold water on the next push for Texas sports betting and casino legislation.