Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Southern States Saddling Up

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sports betting bills

Happy Monday, y’all, and welcome back to another week of sports betting bills in review.

The appetite for legal sports betting is surging to unprecedented levels in the US:

(That last number is artificially inflated by a mess in Massachusetts, but still …)

In this recurring piece, we try to touch on the most relevant movements over the past week of activity.

If you’d rather listen to your updates than read them, today is your lucky day. We just recorded the first episode of our new LSR Podcast, which focuses specifically on bills and regulations. Press play and press on.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Episode 1 – The Caesars-DraftKings Deal, MLB’s Spring Training Request, and more!” on Spreaker.

New Southern sports betting bills

Two new states entered the conversation this week — and two southern states, no less.

North Carolina tribe asks, receives

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians asked its local lawmaker for sports betting, and Sen. Jim Davis is trying to make it happen.

Davis is the sponsor of S 154, a bill that would legalize NC sports betting at tribal casinos in his district, including Harrah’s Cherokee. Following its first reading last week, it currently sits with the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

Passage would represent the third such expansion of tribal gaming under Davis’ tenure, and it has a better chance than you might think given the state’s conservative roots. He anticipates no major opposition, and Rep. Kevin Corbin is expected to introduce a companion bill in the lower chamber.

Neighboring South Carolina also has a sports betting bill on file this year.

Georgia sports betting requires referendum

HR 380 proposes a constitutional amendment to legalize GA sports betting, as required for any expansion of gambling in the state. The only other thing the resolution does is to expressly allocate any tax revenue to supplement the current educational funding from the lottery.

Georgia is one of six states that sells lottery tickets online, and the Georgia Lottery could be the most logical regulator for sports betting.

Passage requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers, and the amendment would only be added if more than half of Georgia voters approve.

We don’t have much context to work with for handicapping purposes, but the bill did advance quickly through its first reading last week. The 2020 election represents the next opportunity for a ballot referendum.

Florida is now the only state along the East Coast that does not have a sports betting bill on file this year, or a law already in place.

An actual Vermont sports betting bill appears

Vermont filled out the map of New England with a study bill in late January, but a more serious effort is under way. Rep. Thomas Burditt introduced a piece of full-fledged VT sports betting legislation Thursday.

H 484 would allow for both in-person and online/mobile betting under the oversight of the Board of Liquor and Lottery. Operators would pay $100,000 for a license, and taxes would top out at 6.75 percent of revenue.

Curiously, this bill also proposes a flat $1 transaction fee on every wager, payable to the board.

Regional competition might be nudging Vermont toward legalization. Nearby Rhode Island sports betting is already legal, of course, and bills are on file in every other Northeast state.

Burditt’s bill was read once and referred to the Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs.

How’s your sports betting hearing?

Last week also saw sports betting bills up for a committee hearing in one state and a full-chamber vote in another.

Connecticut sports betting hearing

By sheer volume alone, Connecticut occupied the bulk of our headlines — and our time — this week.

The Joint Public Safety and Security Committee conducted a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss a group of bills related to gambling expansion. It was not for the faint of heart.

After fielding 11 hours of testimony from all corners of the industry, Chairman Joe Verrengia finally adjourned the marathon meeting near 9 p.m.

It’s still hard to handicap the chances that a CT sports betting bill will stick this year, to be honest. The same committee held an in-depth hearing last year, and it didn’t exactly spark progress.

Tuesday’s session was educational, at least, helping to identify the hurdles still standing in the way of legalization. Remember also that Connecticut already has a sports betting law on the books, but many believe it needs a new one.

Here’s some condensed reading from the long day:

Indiana sports betting passes Senate

Things are progressing quickly in Indiana. Last week, the Senate passed an IN sports betting bill by a decisive 38-11 margin.

S 552 represents the sum of efforts from Sens. Jon Ford and Mark Messmer, the latter of which called it a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.” Among other things, it would allow the state’s gambling facilities to offer sports betting, including mobile wagering with remote registration.

There are a lot of “other things” within its 130 pages of language, however, like updates to the locations of approved casinos. Time will tell whether its broad provisions make it widely appealing or too ambitious for its own good.

Expect it to be read for the first time in the House this week, where a competing bill (H 1363) is also on file.

This week in sports betting bills

We’ll leave you with a regulatory note from West Virginia, too.

State lawmakers are working to finalize the long-term legislative rules for WV sports betting, as emergency rules approach their expiration date. The NFL had boots on the ground in Charleston last week to pitch amendments related to betting restrictions and information sharing.

Anyhow, looking into this (very busy) week, here’s what’s on our legislative radar:

That should be enough to get you current on the current events of US sports betting. Stay tuned here, and follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the week.