The Year That Was: 2023 Sports Betting Legislation Successes

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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. 

The House passed a bill in March, which was then amended by Senate in May. The House agreed to the changes the next week, sending it on to Gov. Phil Scott, a longtime sports betting proponent.

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.