The Week In Sports Betting: Goodbye New York, Hello Rhode Island

Written By Eric Ramsey on June 22, 2018
NY sports betting and RI sports betting

There were no new states to travel to this week. No mindless, endless drives through the nation’s nether regions. Nary a stale slice of gas station pizza. The number of states with legal sports betting remained stuck at three.

What’s going on?

Fortunately, there was plenty of movement to monitor from afar. A tiny state did put a new law on the books, while a giant one failed to do so before closing up shop for the year. There was a sudden flurry of news from a keystone sports betting state, too, and updated timelines in three more.

This is the point in the week we typically lean back with something frosty in our hand and browse through the headlines. I can’t think of any good reason why this week should be any different.

Shall we?

States falling into place (or not)

It looks like we have a pretty complete picture of states that will have legal, active sports betting before the end of the year. The list looks like this right now:

Falling into place…

Thanks to recent rumblings, we know that four more states will join the pool in the coming months. The week’s biggest news comes out of the country’s smallest state:

  • Rhode Island: The legislature passes a budget package that includes provisions to regulate sports betting under the lottery’s direction. The governor signs the budget — and RI sports betting — into law! Little Rhody is eying up an October launch.
  • Mississippi: Regulators approve the first set of rules that will govern Mississippi sports betting. The MGM twitter account leaks the launch date, announcing it will take the first bets on July 21, although the tweet disappeared.
  • West Virginia: On the same day, regulators also approve the framework for WV sports betting. Target for actual wagering to occur? Sept. 1 “at the latest,” according to the lottery.
  • Pennsylvania: Hang on, there is too much. See below for more on PA…

Partial sports betting laws are also on the books in New York and Connecticut. Both statehouses have adjourned for the year, but CT lawmakers are seriously considering returning for a sports betting special session this summer.

The guys on TheLines Podcast expect the list of green states to grow to 10 or 12 by the end of next year.

Or not.

Hang on, New York, may we have a word? Get back here.

Perhaps no state worked as hard toward sports betting during session as the Empire State did. The two chairs of the gaming committees drove the bus for months, and with a purpose. And yet, here we are in the middle of the dang summer without a new law on the books.

The NY legislature adjourned this week with both chambers failing to even reach a vote on sports betting. The same goes for NY online poker, which has been lurking near the finish line for years. Talk about missing the boat…

Congrats if you bet the “over” on 2018.

Everybody has comments about PA sports betting

Hey look, Pennsylvania gets its own section this week!

Regulators recently published the first set of PA sports betting rules, and the period for public comment closed on June 15. The comments numbered many, and they were awesome.

Stakeholders (and would-be stakeholders) from across the sports and betting industries aired their grievances in earnest. Some even took the opportunity to complain — and rightly so — about the onerous $10 million fee and 36 percent tax. Those numbers are baked into the law, but there’s still room to wiggle around some of the pillars.

Here’s what the sports industry wants PA regulators to know:

  • NFL: At long last, the NFL makes its first public attempt to shape sports betting at the state level. Most of its information-sharing requests are reasonable, integrity fees are never mentioned, and the league goes the extra mile to tell the state why being greedy is bad.
  • MLB/NBA/PGA Tour: The three leagues running point for Team Lobby seem to be waving the white flag on integrity fees, too. Instead, their letter focuses on the use of “official league data” and the power to take certain bets off the board. Neither are included in the current regulations.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates: Here’s one for the bad takes section. The Pirates support MLB’s quest for integrity fees, but the team also wants money to help keep the grass green at PNC Park. Operators will line up to pay these fun new stadium fees, no doubt.
  • Pitt and Penn State: Two of the state’s largest universities also offer their own (very different) feedback. Penn State wants regulators to prohibit betting on PA college sports altogether. Pitt wants to get in on the action with some compensation, inventing yet another new burden: impact fees.

Harrah’s and Churchill Downs are among the gaming interests that also submit comment. More notably, a spicy letter from Penn National Gaming throws DraftKings and FanDuel under the bus as unwanted competition.

By the way, the state collected $200,000 in tax revenue from its first month of regulating daily fantasy sports. And FanDuel outpaced DraftKings in Pennsylvania, at least.

It’s worth reading the full packet of comments if you find yourself needing some entertainment on a lonely night. We could write a whole good-takes-bad-takes section on these letters alone.

Other sports betting tidbits

Poor outlining has once again left a bunch of items straggling without a good category in which to fit. Here:

  • DraftKings + Kambi: This is actually quite a big headline. We finally learned that the DraftKings Sportsbook will be built on the back of a tech partnership with Kambi. It looks like a strong deal for both parties, and Kambi says launch is imminent in New Jersey.
  • Crossover players: Good news for the above. A new study unsurprisingly reveals that half of DFS players are also sports bettors. Crossover players tend to spend more money more frequently than exclusive players in either vertical.
  • US Congress: The House Judiciary Committee schedules a federal sports betting hearing for next week. Then it promptly postpones it. Maybe we should wait until Sen. Orrin Hatch retires before we let Congress go to work, anyway?
  • Scott Butera: Wait, who? MGM hires the former Arena Football League commissioner to oversee its sports betting expansion. Butera is eminently qualified with extensive experience in the gaming industry, too.
  • Ad-ing up the numbers: MLB makes good on its promise to be a stick in the sports betting mud if it can’t collect fees. The league says it will no longer allow teams or broadcasters to accept advertising revenue from the industry.
  • Ocean and Meadowlands: The Ocean Resort Casino finally gets its gambling license a few days before opening. It’ll have a sportsbook ready to go when customers arrive. The Meadowlands Racetrack says it’ll start taking bets on July 15 under its new partnership with Betfair US.
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Eric Ramsey

Eric is a reporter and writer covering regulated US gambling, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.

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