Leagues pivoting from integrity fees to official data
Legal Sports Report

Sports Betting Legislative Lasso: Tennessee Legalizes, Illinois’ Final Push

sports betting bills

Happy holiday, ladies and gents!

US lawmakers are observing Memorial Day today (although they were at work in Illinois), providing a quiet stage for our weekly recap of sports betting news. This year’s holiday happens to coincide with Grape Popsicle Day and Cellophane Tape Day, if you’re looking for additional ways to celebrate.

Anyhow, here are the stats for US sports betting right now:

  • States with regulated sports betting: 8
  • Jurisdictions pending launch: 7
  • States with bills on file: 38
  • Number of bills on file: 153

After a sluggish start to the year, a new state has now legalized sports betting in four consecutive weeks. This time, it’s Tennessee with a law that sets (or breaks) more than one precedent in the US.

The LSR Podcast crew had plenty to say about the new law when they recorded, too. Grab a popsicle, click play, and keep reading.

Listen to “LSR Podcast Ep.11 – The Scoop on Disney & DraftKings, Whats Going on in Pennsylvania, Plus More Industry Updates” on Spreaker.

Tennessee caves to sports betting, leagues

Last week, the Volunteer State became the fourth to legalize sports betting this year. Despite strong opposition to gambling, Gov. Bill Lee let the bill become law without his signature on Friday.

In a first for the US, the TN sports betting framework only permits online betting. There are no casinos in Tennessee, making it the first non-gambling state to pass a sports gambling law.

Tennessee lawmakers are also the first in the country to weaponize official league data.

An unprecedented mandate requires operators to enter into commercial agreements with the billionaire sports leagues — and to do so on their terms. H 1 is also the first state law to give those leagues the power to restrict the types of available wagers.

The financials don’t ease those burdens, either. Licensees will pay $750,000 annually to serve the state, then return a 20% tax on their revenue. Both numbers are near the top end of the scale among states with laws on the books.

For better or for worse, legal sports betting is coming to Tennessee.

Illinois sports betting bill unsatisfactory

If you didn’t know Rep. Mike Zalewski was the sponsor of the sports betting bill in Illinois, you might think he was trying to sabotage it.

Zalewski initially proposed five distinct frameworks for his bill, each one less palatable than the last. The five were eventually consolidated into two broadly unappealing models, and the sponsor is trying one last time to get it right.

The final form of H 1260 is less than ideal, though, the sum of the worst provisions from previous amendments. Licenses to offer IL sports betting would top out at $25 million apiece, and the 20% tax on revenue would be the nation’s highest outside of Pennsylvania. The sponsor remains inexplicably attached to official data, too.

Don’t worry; it gets worse.

Rather than solving the polarizing penalty box issue, Zalewski is instead proposing a complete moratorium on online betting for 18 months. The push to keep DraftKings Sportsbook and FanDuel Sportsbook out of the market may end up spoiling the opportunity for everyone.

While the governors of Indiana and Iowa have legalized sports betting in recent weeks, the largest “I” in the union still can’t get its act together. Failure to pass a bill would punch a $217 million hole in the proposed budget of a state that is already running lean on money.

The latest in the state is that a bill that would allow for more casinos would be attached to sports betting. The legislation authorizing a casino in Chicago as well as riverboat casinos in other part of the state moved out of committee and onto the House floor on Monday morning.

Illinois lawmakers are scheduled to adjourn on Friday, so time is short to get something done.

Movement in New Hampshire, Ohio

New Hampshire might be the betting favorite to cross the finish line next.

H 480 is on its way back to the Senate after a brief stop in the Finance committee last week. The full chamber previously passed the amended bill on second reading, so a third approval would send it back to the House for concurrence. Expect a vote on Thursday.

Meanwhile, things are moving just a bit in Ohio. The House Finance committee held a hearing last week on H 194, with official data commanding a substantial chunk of time.

Eric Schippers (Penn National Gaming) scolded the leagues for seeking a “money grab” from sports betting despite having their integrity fee shunned at every turn. Ayesha Molino (MGM) asked lawmakers to empower regulators, not the leagues, to determine which types of bets are allowed.

Neither of the primary OH sports betting bills include such fees or restrictions as currently written.

This week in sports betting

Our eyes will turn toward Massachusetts this week. Starting on Tuesday, the joint committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies will conduct two days of hearings on H 68 and the rest of the MA sports betting bills.

There’s a hearing in Louisiana on Tuesday, too. The House Appropriations committee will meet to discuss S 153, the sports betting initiative the Senate passed a month ago.

Lastly, the Oregon Lottery will conduct a Friday meeting to discuss the implementation of full-scale OR sports betting. If things go well, the Beaver State could find itself on the “legal pending launch” line next week.

As always, follow @LSPReport on Twitter for updates, and keep an eye on our map of sports betting bills for movement.

Have a happy shortened week, 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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