The Latest Sign That Lawmakers From Across The US Are Eager To Legalize Sports Betting

Written By Dustin Gouker on November 28, 2017
Signs states want sports betting

[toc]Sports betting will be the focus of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States when the group gathers in Miami this January.

NCLGS and sports betting

The NCLGS is a group of lawmakers from across the country that meet regularly to talk about gambling issues. That sports betting is the focus of its next gathering indicates the high level of interest in a large of number of states.

The event — which includes a “series of debates on the future of legal sports betting in the United States” — will take place Jan. 5-7.

“The future of sports betting is the dominant issue in gaming across the nation, and is arguably the most important gaming issue that lawmakers and industry officials must confront in 2018,” said Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, an officer with NLCGS, in a press release about the event. “NCLGS is rising to the occasion by making sure our members fully grasp all its ramifications.”

NCLGS “does not promote or oppose gaming” but comes at it from states attempting to properly regulate it when the issue comes up.

Meeting comes at a key time for US sports betting

Next week, the US Supreme Court will consider the New Jersey sports betting case. In that case, NJ is trying to legalize sports wagering. If SCOTUS decides to strike down the federal law that bans single-game sports betting outside of Nevada, it leaves an opportunity for other states to follow suit.

“Congress and the US Supreme Court are discussing this issue and will be making important decisions, but ultimately the most important decisions will be made in statehouses across the United States,” said Rep. Helene Keeley of Delaware, a recent past president of NCLGS.

Keeley chairs the NCLGS Committee on Casinos, which will examine the possible implications of the NJ sports betting case, Christie vs. NCAA, during the meeting.

Also at the meeting, the Committee on State-Federal Relations — Coley chairs that — will discuss the potential of sports gambling via the internet and mobile devices. The NLCGS indicated that the topic would also come up at sessions throughout the event.

States have already acted on sports wagering

State legislatures generally start ramping up for the year in the late winter and early spring months. That means the lessons from this conference could aid potential legislative efforts.

Of course, several states are already on their way to legal sports betting:

  • New Jersey, if it wins, would have legalized sports betting without government regulation. The state would likely go back and pass a new law, with the right verdict in the Supreme Court case.
  • Pennsylvania passed a law that allows it to offer sports betting, if PASPA (the federal sports betting law) is struck down.
  • New York has already authorized its commercial casinos to go ahead if the federal ban is lifted, but it wants to legalize it at other gaming facilities.
  • Connecticut has authorized its gaming commission to move ahead on potential regulatory provisions.
  • Mississippi has taken a first step toward legalizing sports betting, but would still need to empower its gaming commission to regulate it.

A number of other states have considered sports betting bills; that number is likely to increase in 2018 and beyond.

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Dustin Gouker

Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.

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