Vast majority of US states weighing legalization, regulation of sports betting
Legal Sports Report

Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Central States Hurtling Toward Finish Line

Sports betting bills

Hello, we’re back! We need to apologize for leaving you without a lasso last week. Truly, madly, deeply … we’re sorry.

We really don’t have a good excuse, either. Unless you consider watching Tiger Woods win The Masters a good one? Spending a long spring weekend watching golf instead of reading bills is a tradition unlike any other at LSR.

Anyhow, we are jumping right back onto the legislative wagon this week. Here are the vitals for US sports betting right now:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 3
  • States with bills on file: 38
  • Number of bills on file: 151

We’re admittedly biased, but the LSR Podcast is the best way to follow the chatter beyond reading the thousands of words we write. Last week’s episode includes a big update on PA sports betting and an interview with newsmaker Lou Maione of SportsGrid.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.7: NIGA, Wire Act, NJ Numbers, & SportsGrid’s Lou Maione” on Spreaker.

If you are interested in reading a thousand words (or so), you’re in luck. We had plenty to write about for this week’s lasso, including a handful of hearings across the middle of the country.

Let’s begin in the West, though, where a new state joined the list of those considering sports betting legislation.

Colorado sports betting bill

On Tuesday, LSR got a sneak peek at draft sports betting language being circulated among Colorado casino operators. This effort, nearly a year in the making, finally materialized on Thursday as Rep. Alec Garnett introduced H 1327.

Garnett’s proposal would allow each of the state’s casinos to secure a “master license” to offer both retail and statewide mobile betting. Licensees could partner with a single third-party operator in each category or use the same partner for a unified, omni-channel solution.

The bill proposes a 10% tax on revenue, and application fees are not yet codified.

It might not be a constitutional necessity, but this particular bill would be subject to a referendum at the ballot box. And passage, frankly, would be a surprise. Although Colorado is generally viewed as one of the more liberal US states, voters have shown little appetite for gambling expansion.

Upon introduction, the Centennial State became the 38th with proposed legislation on file this year. House Finance will consider the CO sports betting bill for the first time on Monday afternoon.

Sports betting hearings impaired

Sports betting was a topic of debate in several statehouses last week, including a big swath of the Midwest. Here are some of the highlights (and lowlights) from a busy week of legislation.

Indiana goes to conference

The Indiana House and Senate each passed a different version of S 552, and neither likes the other’s changes. The bill is now headed to conference, where a four-member committee will work to iron out differences across chambers.

For our purposes, mobile betting will be the key topic of debate.

The as-introduced bill would have authorized statewide mobile betting, but opposition from Rep. Ben Smaltz forced his House committee into a retail-only amendment. Though nothing is certain yet, those close to the situation expect conferees to reinsert those provisions.

Should the group come together on the specifics, the bill would wind up on the desk of Gov. Eric Holcomb. A signature from the governor could spawn a regulated IN sports betting industry as early as Sept. 1.

Iowa approaching the finish line

Iowa might be the first new state to legalize sports betting this year. A bipartisan agreement yielded a 38-11 vote to pass in the Senate on Wednesday, and the House will consider the bill early this week.

S 617 seems to have a little bit of something for everyone.

The proposal would allow Iowa casinos to offer sports betting, including two online/mobile skins apiece. Operators would be subject to the reasonable impositions of a $45,000 license fee and a 7.5% tax on revenue. The bill also includes language to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports.

There is, however, a requirement for in-person registration for the first 18 months and a ban on prop bets involving in-state collegiate athletics. Problem gambling provisions are notably lean, as well.

One way or the other, we should have a final answer on IA sports betting soon. Session ends in Des Moines on May 3.

A mess in Missouri

The integrity fee is back with a vengeance in Missouri.

On Monday, the General Laws Committee advanced the House proposal for MO sports betting. As amended, H 119 now includes two distinct handle-based fees:

  • 0.25% to all professional and collegiate sports leagues (royalty fee)
  • 0.60% to pro leagues with an in-state presence (stadium fee)

It’s worth noting that the NFL is not asking for a royalty fee, and the NCAA expressly rejects the concept. Also of note, the NBA would essentially be the only major league excluded from the stadium fee.

The amended bill would also require the use of official data to settle wagers on anything except the final score.

The rest of the language is pretty operator-friendly, though, including a $10,000 license fee and an 8% tax on revenue. Sources tell LSR that Missouri casinos are vehemently opposed to the league provisions, but the bill is not expected to pass without their inclusion.

After clearing its first committee stop, the House bill now heads to Rules —­ Legislative Oversight. Two competing Senate bills also remain on file with session scheduled to run through May 17 in Jefferson City.

Tension in Tennessee

Last week, Rep. Andy Holt in Tennessee drew a parallel between gambling addiction and slavery. The comparison came during a 30-minute hearing on H 1 before Finance Ways and Means late Wednesday evening.

Amendments have made this TN sports betting bill far less palatable than it was at introduction, with license fees raised to $750,000 (from $7,500) and taxes increased to 20% (from 10%). It is now an online-only bill, and lawmakers have also amended in a mandate requiring the use of official league data.

The amended bill would allocate 5% of TN sports betting taxes to problem gambling awareness and treatment.

The committee ultimately reported the bill out by a 10-9 margin with one member not voting. The House version is headed to the floor, while the Senate version (S 16) continues to work through the committee process in the upper chamber.

Tennessee lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn this Friday, so time is tight.

Sports betting legislation elsewhere

Montana might actually have passed three sports betting bills before any of those other states have one.

The Senate passed two bills Thursday: one under a tavern model and the other tied to the lottery. The third, a parimutuel bill for tracks, is also working its way through the House. The governor supports the lottery model, but stakeholders think all three could become law.

Elsewhere, two little tidbits to tidy up the list of legislative movement:

  • Connecticut: Amended CT sports betting bills (H 7331 and S 17) were reported out of the Legislative Commissioner’s Office and onto the floor of their respective chambers.
  • North Carolina: The Senate has already passed an NC sports betting bill (S 154), but a competing effort in the House threatens to scuttle progress.

Oregon, incidentally, is on the verge of moving itself into the “legal pending launch” category. No new legislation is needed to facilitate OR sports betting, and the state lottery is prepared to proceed with the help of SBTech.

This week in sports betting bills

Good news, fellow fans of sports betting hearings! We spot a handful of them on the docket for the upcoming week. Here’s what we’ll be watching:

Monday, Apr. 22

  • Colorado (H 1327) — House Finance
  • Indiana (S 552) — Conference

Tuesday, Apr. 23

  • Louisiana (S 153) — Senate Judiciary B
  • New Hampshire (S 310) — House Ways and Means

Wednesday, Apr. 24

  • New Hampshire (H 480) — Senate Ways and Means

Thursday, Apr. 25

  • Illinois — House Sales, Amusement and Other Taxes (subcommittee)

Friday, Apr. 26

It looks like that’s it, but there’s always a chance something else could pop up between now and Friday. As always, keep an eye on our map of sports betting bills, and follow @LSPReport for updates on Twitter throughout the week.

Happy Monday, y’all.

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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