Hello folks, and welcome back to another edition of what the heck happened in sports betting this week.
Like their schoolchildren, lawmakers have mostly gone home for summer vacation. Their exodus creates a brief lull in the legislative calendar, though the second wave of states is now preparing to roll out their regulated industries. Nine of them, plus the District of Columbia, have laws on the books pending launch.
Only a few of the states toying with legalization remain in session through summer.
Activity wrapped up with a bang last week in New York, though it was more of a muffled whimper when it comes to sports betting. Mighty Maine did manage to exit with a roar, but we’ll get there in a bit.
Let’s start in the Empire State, where an ill-fated endeavor to authorize online betting came up empty.
New York sports betting stuck in the Stone Age
Welp. It’s officially a no in New York.
Lawmakers failed in their attempt to tack online betting onto the existing NY sports betting law this year. The joint effort from Sen. Joseph Addabbo and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow never looked like a good bet despite the sponsors’ long-suffering optimism.
Although Senate passage raised the threat level in mid-June, the bill never overcame opposition from the lower chambers and the governor’s office. Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintains constitutional concerns over the legislature’s power to expand the current law.
That being said, NY sports betting is on the way.
Regulators finalized the rules for the land-based industry allowing commercial and tribal casinos to operate retail sportsbooks on property. For now, though, the state’s sports gambling commodity will remain limited to those few brick-and-mortar facilities. Even the MGM property in Yonkers isn’t allowed to book sports.
Failure in New York is music to the ears of operators in New Jersey. With the nearest eligible casino some 90 miles upstate, Meadowlands will happily continue to welcome local bettors to FanDuel Sportsbook in East Rutherford. And, of course, NJ sports betting is available anywhere within state lines via smartphone.
Adjournment also marks another loss for professional sports leagues, which were dangerously close to finding a group of lawmakers to pay them an integrity fee.
Maine sports betting gets there
Maine lawmakers, on the other hand, powered a bill across the finish line during the final hours of the 2019 session. The first two readings took place Tuesday before both chambers cast their final votes in favor of passage on Wednesday.
The bill that will legalize Maine sports betting is a good one, permitting both retail and online sportsbooks. Lawmakers imposed no cap on the number of untethered online licenses available for $20,000 apiece. Brick-and-mortar gambling venues fought for exclusivity right up until the end, according to one of the sponsors.
Only Tennessee has a similar open model, albeit with a much steeper license fee of $750,000 per year.
A prohibition on Maine collegiate action and a tiered tax that punishes mobile wagering represent the only soft spots in an otherwise solid framework. State officials project about $1.9 million in first-year tax revenue from sports betting.
Presuming Gov. Janet Mills signs the bill as expected, Maine would become the seventh state to approve legal sports betting this year — and the third to do so on the last day of the session. Bills in Illinois and Indiana also passed right at the wire, while another in Louisiana fell apart just before adjournment.
Welcome aboard, Mainers.
Sports betting takes and tidbits
Here’s what else happened this week that you should know about:
- Ummm, DC?: Things are not OK in the nation’s capital. Federal agents last week raided the home of Councilmember Jack Evans, who spearheaded the effort to legalize sports betting in the city. In addition to ethical questions, the public is peeved about a broken promise related to revenue allocation.
- NBA Nugget: New Jersey lawmakers are working on a bill that would loosen the restrictions on sportsbooks with ownership ties to the sports industry. Passage would be good news for Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, whose Golden Nugget cannot currently book NBA action in the state.
- PokerStars Live PA?: Mockups from Mount Airy in Pennsylvania depict a layout for a poker room with easy access to the sportsbook. Nothing is confirmed, but the casino’s partnership with The Stars Group has us wondering if we’ll see PokerStars logos on the felt. We’ll definitely see Fox Bet branding on the sportsbook.
- Pay Rood: Perhaps the biggest industry news last week was the revelation that Jay Rood has found a landing spot. The longtime MGM executive is taking his bookmaking talents to Bet.Works, an ambitious young B2B with a roster that includes TheScore.
Rood joined TheLines Podcast last week to talk about his motivations for making the switch. Have a listen; the interview starts at 25:00:
Our legal counsel John Holden also churned out a pair of insightful pieces about the Wire Act:
This week in sports betting
For the first time in what seems like forever, there’s essentially nothing happening on the lawmaking front this week. We’re still watching the proceedings in Michigan and a few other states, but most legislatures have adjourned for the year.
That’s about all we’ve got for you this Monday, ladies and gents. You should follow @LSPReport on Twitter if you’re not already doing that, and keep an eye on our map of sports betting bills if you’re into that sort of thing.
Have a happy week.