Montana first to finish in 2019
Legal Sports Report

Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Who’s Next After Montana?

Sports betting bills

Happy Monday, and welcome back to our weekly tour of US sports betting bills and regulation. Someone finally decided to pass a bill last Friday, so there’s no sense lallygagging in the introduction. Let’s lasso, y’all.

Here are the current vitals, with one big and notable change this week:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 4
  • States with bills on file: 38
  • Number of bills on file: 152

For the first time this year, a new state bumped that second-line number up by one. We’ll focus this week’s recap on Big Sky Country, where competing bills galloped nose-to-nose down the stretch — and one was ultimately disqualified.

If you’d prefer to have your news narrated to you, Matt Brown and the LSR Podcast crew gathered Thursday to talk through the week’s headlines — and more. Much more, in fact, including a rousing discussion of early-90s soap operas. Click play and/or keep reading.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.9 – Feeling Good About Sports Betting Happening in Multiple States (Not NY or FL)” on Spreaker.

A four-horse race to place

Montana might have won the race, but the battle for the other two spots on the podium is equally compelling. Lawmakers in four additional states passed sports betting bills, and at least three of them now sit on the desk of their respective governor.

We’ve written about all of these at length, so we’ll keep the notes brief:

  • Colorado (H 1327): casinos; online betting; one skin apiece; 10% tax
  • Indiana (H 1015): casinos, tracks, OTBs; online betting; 9.5% tax
  • Iowa (S 617): casinos; online betting; two skins apiece; 6.75% tax
  • Tennessee (H 1): online only; $750,000 annual license; official data mandate; 20% tax

Meanwhile, bills in Louisiana (S 153) and North Carolina (S 154) are through their chamber of origin and awaiting action in the House. Prospects appear good for both, especially the latter.

Welcome to legal sports betting, Montana

Last week, Montana finally and officially became the first new state to turn a sports betting bill into law this year. Two bills actually made it to the desk of Gov. Steve Bullock, but only one got past his red pen.

Bullock rejected the Senate bill (S 330) that would have allowed licensed taverns to offer sports betting, primarily via kiosks.

In the veto letter we obtained, the governor expressed a desire to proceed conservatively. He opined that the budget can not bear a competitive sports betting landscape — at least not in the short term. William Hill and MGM were among operators seeking to serve the state.

Instead, Bullock signed the House bill (H 725) giving the state lottery a monopoly over the operation.

Montana, you might remember, held a narrow exemption for a form of pari-mutuel betting under PASPA. A year after its repeal, it’s now standing on the doorstep of single-game wagering via the lottery and its supplier, Intralot.

Elsewhere in sports betting

For a period of about 17 minutes, some folks actually thought Florida might be a candidate to legalize sports betting this year. Seasoned handicappers knew better, though, and lawmakers adjourned on Friday without formal consideration. There remains an outside chance that Gov. Ron DeSantis could convene a special session on the issue this summer.

There was also bit of movement in New York. Continued efforts to legislate mobile NY sports betting spawned new amendments to the companion bills (A 6113, S 17) we’ve been tracking. The sponsors unified the proposed license fee to $12 million in the newest version, while both retained the unprecedented 0.2% of handle integrity fee.

Meanwhile, regulated sports betting is under attack in Rhode Island. A Superior Court lawsuit filed last week contends that lawmakers deprived voters of their constitutional rights in legalizing RI sports betting.

This week in sports betting bills

We’ll have one eye on those bills near the finish line this week, while we turn the other toward Maine.

There, the joint committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs is scheduled to meet for a sports betting work session on Monday. We haven’t written much about Maine yet, but a group of bills early in the legislative process seems to have some promise.

That’s all we see on the docket so far, indicative of legislative sessions winding down in several states. Monitor our map of sports betting bills for changes, and follow @LSPReport on Twitter for updates in your timeline.

Have a great week, dear readers. You too, governors.

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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