Sports betting bills on file in 35 US states
Legal Sports Report

Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Louisiana, Oregon On The Trail To Legalization

sports betting bills

Sports betting is the new frontier for gambling, a figurative gold rush rivaling the bygone days of westward expansion in the US. As was the case for indecisive settlers, those who haven’t yet started the journey have already lost the race to a group of ambitious trailblazers.

Here’s how the appetite for legal sports betting looks right now by the numbers:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 3
  • States with bills on file: 35
  • Number of bills on file: 139

Regular readers may notice that the state counter increased by one this week! Louisiana has joined the conversation, so that’s where we’ll begin our tour of the map.

While you read, have a listen to the Friday edition of the LSR Podcast, too. In between legislative updates, Del. Shawn Fluharty also dropped in to discuss the ongoing outage plaguing West Virginia sports betting.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.5: A New NHL Partnership, Illinois and Bad Actors + WV’s Shawn Fluharty” on Spreaker.

Louisiana wants sports betting

The 2018 daily fantasy sports referendum in Louisiana was, indeed, a trial run for a 2019 effort to legalize sports betting. Last week, Sen. Danny Martiny filed his LA sports betting bill (S 153) for the second consecutive year.

The proposal would allow the state’s casinos and horse racing tracks (20 total venues) to apply for sports betting licenses. Electronic wagering would be authorized “only in the gaming area” under the so-called Mississippi mobile framework — on-site only.

Like the DFS bill that preceded it, legalizing sports betting in Louisiana requires a parish-by-parish referendum. Only in parishes where a majority of residents approve can gambling facilities offer sports wagering.

With Martiny’s introduction, Louisiana becomes the 35th state with a sports betting bill on file this year.

North Dakota doesn’t want it

Efforts to legalize sports betting in North Dakota, on the other hand, are dead for the year.

The relevant bill (H 1254) would have allowed betting exclusively on professional sporting events via charitable gaming licensees. It was never fully fleshed out, though. The House managed to pass the proposal by the narrowest of margins in February, but the Senate has officially scuttled its progress.

Failure, frankly, is not unexpected.

The bill was on shaky ground from the start, requiring two votes to pass the House after an unfavorable committee report. Earlier this session, lawmakers also killed a separate bill (H 1295) that would have allowed betting on both collegiate and professional events.

Oregon already has it

Oregon could very well be the next US state to roll out full-scale sports betting, and it won’t require more legislation.

The Beaver State is among those that had a limited exemption under PASPA, the federal ban that the US Supreme Court overturned last May. Its exemption is for parlay betting cards, which are currently available through the state lottery.

During a recent meeting, the Oregon Lottery Commission unveiled its recommendations for expanded OR sports betting. The proposal ends with a recommendation to award SBTech the lone contract ahead of Playtech and Scientific Games.

SBTech is one of the newer players in the US marketplace, serving only Mississippi and New Jersey so far. Should the lottery approve the selection, Oregon would suddenly graduate to the “legal pending launch” category on our list.

What are you hearing about sports betting?

In terms of quantity, last week’s calendar was somewhat sparse. A hearing in Illinois provided good bang for the buck, though, and an amendment in Indiana sparked a five-alarm fire on social media.

Illinois sports betting menu

As it did for a few weeks last year, the Illinois sports betting conversation has returned to center stage this month.

In our last Lasso, we mentioned that the sponsor of the relevant bill (H 3308) filed four proposed amendments to give lawmakers a menu of options to choose from. Last week, Rep. Bob Rita filed a fifth option that has support from casinos and horse racing tracks.

The proposed language moves to exclude DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook from the marketplace as bad actors. According to Rita, DFS operators currently serving the state should not be rewarded with a place in IL sports betting.

The House Revenue and Finance Committee held a preliminary hearing last week and tentatively scheduled a follow-up for next week.

Indiana sports betting logistics

Indiana lawmakers continue to fiddle with a gambling expansion bill (S 552) that includes legalized sports betting.

Last week, the sudden removal of mobile betting language raised eyebrows within the industry. Sources close to the situation, however, maintain that the amendment was a procedural step to ensure the bill cleared committee. The group’s chairman, Rep. Ben Smaltz, is a vocal opponent of mobile betting.

So far, everything seems to be going according to plan. Smaltz’s House Public Policy Committee advanced the bill unanimously last week, and the sponsor is reportedly working to reinsert mobile betting provisions downstream.

Language that would have required operators to use official league data was also amended out of the bill.

Sports betting legislative loose ends

Here’s what else happened around the map:

Believe it or not, that was pretty much it for the light week.

This week in sports betting bills

So far, there’s just one hearing on the docket for the upcoming week, too.

Tennessee has been the scene of a couple recent discussions, as efforts to pass sports betting legislation are ramping up. The Senate State & Local Government Committee is set to conduct a hearing on a matching pair of bills (H 1 & S 16) on Tuesday morning. While these are the bills to watch, this hearing has already been pushed back for three straight weeks.

Apart from that, two Missouri sports betting bills (S 44 & S 222) remain on the calendar for perfection. And a Montana sports betting bill (S 330) is scheduled for a full vote in the Senate on Monday.

That’s all we have for you this week, ladies and gents. Don’t forget to bookmark our map of sports betting bills, and follow @LSPReport for the most-up-to-date updates throughout the week.

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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