Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Meet Me In The Midwest

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Happy Monday, ladies and gents, and welcome back for another tour of the US sports betting landscape. In this weekly piece, we try to cover the recent, relevant movement in states considering legal sports betting.

Here are the numbers right now:

Our watchlist last week included a handful of hearings on active bills and the introduction of some new ones worth monitoring. We’re also beginning to eliminate states from contention this year, as some sessions are running up against legislative deadlines.

If you’d rather listen to your updates than read them — or while you read them — our new LSR Podcast is a good way to do just that. Here’s what the crew had to say last Friday:

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep. 2: Bills, Bills, Bills + What the heck happened in WV?” on Spreaker.

Oh, also! We have upgraded our sports betting bill tracker to make it more functional and visually appealing for you, dear reader. It might be a useful page to bookmark if you’re following along with the conversation, too.

New Midwestern sports betting bills

Which Midwestern state will be the first in the region to legalize sports betting? There’s a fair chance it’ll be one of these two below, where new bills appeared last week.

Michigan one-liner is back

Readers of our sister site, Online Poker Report, might remember that Michigan lawmakers passed online gambling legislation on the final day of last year’s session. On his way out of office, though, former Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the bill for reasons that remain unknown.

With new Gov. Gretchen Whitmer now calling the shots, Rep. Brandt Iden has refiled his almost-famous legislation. The Lawful Internet Gaming Act (H 4311) would allow the state’s commercial and tribal casinos to offer online gambling, with initial licensure costing $200,000.

Iden’s House bill is matched by one from Sen. Curtis Hertel (S 186) in the upper chamber. These bills are not exactly sports betting bills, but they’ve retained this one sentence of enabling language:

The division may permit internet gaming operators licensed by the division to accept internet wagers under this act on any amateur or professional sporting event or contest.

That one sentence could be enough to legalize MI sports betting on its own, but Iden is also working to draft standalone legislation. Michigan lawmakers make laws in Lansing all year long.

More Kansas sports betting bills

A few sports betting bills are already lingering within the Kansas legislature, but none have moved since a cancelled hearing on Jan. 30. A matching pair of bills (H 2390, S 222) filed last Wednesday, though, has sparked the conversation once again.

The new bills would add KS sports betting definitions and exemptions to the existing Kansas expanded lottery act. Licenses for the states’s casinos and race tracks would include authorization for both retail and online/mobile wagering. Suffice it to say, the proposed tax structure is complicated, and application fees are not yet codified.

The bills originate with the Committee on Federal and State Affairs, where they’ll have their first consideration. Kansas lawmakers remain in session until late June this year.

Legislative movement elsewhere

Piggybacking on the last section, it’s worth mentioning that additional bills also surfaced this week in both Georgia (H 570) and North Carolina (H 302).

(If you’re listening to the podcast, you’re probably getting close to the part where one member of the staff makes a bold prediction about the latter.)

Here are a couple more tidbits to clean up the week’s legislative news:

Better luck next year?

The appetite for legal sports betting has never been this ravenous, but satiating that appetite has not been easy in 2019. No state has managed to pass a bill so far this year, and some states have reached the end of the legislative road.

Iowa sports betting on ice?

It’s growing increasingly unlikely that Iowa will be the first-mover in the Midwest.

Last Friday was the deadline for all proposed legislation to be reported out of committee in the chamber of origin. Although lawmakers are still in session, each of the 12 active bills missed the first target.

Failure would represent another case study on the difficulties of passing sports betting legislation. Stakeholders were all-in coming into 2019, and bills seemed to be gathering some steam in the early days of session. One casino, Prairie Meadows, even signed a deal with William Hill in anticipation of legalized IA sports betting.

All of these plans are cooling off, as every one of the dozen bills stalled in committee. Reporting from The Daily Iowan, however, indicates that at least one set of bills may still be alive post-funnel.

South Dakota says no thanks to sports betting

A legislative effort to put a South Dakota sports betting referendum on the 2020 ballot is dead.

The Senate narrowly passed SJR 2 in February, which would allow voters to weigh in on SD sports betting at the Deadwood casinos. Things went downhill from there, though.

The bill took a beating from the State Affairs Committee before escaping without recommendation, and a subsequent motion to place it on the House calendar failed.

Though the legislative path is closed, local reports from KOTA indicate that stakeholders will work to gather the required support on their own. Putting a proposed referendum on the ballot requires about 34,000 signatures.

Forget sports betting, California

This one probably wouldn’t even be worth mentioning if not for the fact that it’s California. The nation’s most populous state appears to be even farther from legal sports betting than it was a year ago, when a bill on file failed to gain any traction.

There is no bill this year, and an initiative to put CA sports betting on the 2020 ballot has officially failed, too. The measure needed about 623,000 votes to stick, and it only managed (checks notes) zero.

This week in sports betting bills

Here’s what we’ll be watching this week, if you’d care to join us for any viewing parties:

Monday, March 11

Tuesday, March 12

Wednesday, March 13

As always, watch the map for movement, and follow us on Twitter for real-time updates throughout the week.