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Last week was surprisingly busy considering it was such a quiet week of sports betting news. Everything is relative, of course.
We actually have a fair amount to cover in this Monday morning recap, including a sudden situation in Northern New England and the launch of the first new market in 2019. We’ll swing through a couple of states in the Midwest, too, before checking in on our friends in California. Hope y’all are staying safe out there.
As usual, the guys on the LSR Podcast were on the front edge of the chatter throughout the week. Subscribe, rate, review, and listen to the latest episode while you read on:
What seemed to be a foregone conclusion in Maine is suddenly full of question marks.
Gov. Janet Mills decided not to sign the bill that would legalize sports betting in her state, leaving the operation entirely in limbo. According to the sponsors, Mills cited concerns over expanded gambling as her primary reason to put their efforts on ice.
It would be a real shame to see this one end in a full veto. Had Mills signed it, Maine’s sports betting law would be among the very best in the US.
Lawmakers spent the first few months of 2019 tinkering under the hood before passing a near-perfect version of their bill in both chambers on the final day of the session. The framework is uniquely crafted to foster competition, including moderate licensing costs and untethered online betting throughout the state.
There’s no guarantee the bill will become law now, though, nor a certainty that it will retain its current posture if it does. The next action could come via a special session this summer, but it will likely have to wait until lawmakers reconvene next year.
Voters in Arkansas approved expanded gambling at the ballot box last November, and their first legal sportsbook is taking bets less than eight months later. Not too shabby. The Natural State is the first new state to launch a regulated sports betting industry this year.
It’s Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort that did the deed, opening its betting windows on July 1 as planned. The property also began offering casino games earlier this year as part of a $100 million expansion facilitated by that referendum.
AR sports betting is limited to the state’s four gambling establishments — the two that already exist plus one new casino apiece in Pope and Johnson counties. Southland Racing and Gaming also have plans to open a sportsbook near Memphis, but the Delaware North property is stuck until the BetLucky fiasco is resolved.
Of the US jurisdictions that legalized sports betting in 2018, only the District of Columbia has yet to go live. The delay for DC sports betting is symptomatic of larger issues in the district tied, in part, to last year’s passage.
LSR got the first-hand update last week from the sponsor of an effort to bring legal sports betting to California.
Sen. Bill Dodd indicates that he and his co-sponsor, Assemblyman Adam Gray, will conduct a series of hearings to hammer out the details prior to putting the issue on the ballot next fall. Gray has accumulated some recent insight as the sponsor of a previous CA sports betting bill that never moved.
Passage would require deft maneuvering through what is arguably the most complicated landscape in the country.
Tribes control most forms of gambling in California, but perceived infringements on exclusivity have soured their relationship with the state. Look no further than the yearslong lack of progress toward online poker for evidence of the standoff. Stakeholders from the horse racing industry and private card-room operators will want a seat at the table when sports betting comes up for discussion, too.
The proposed referendum requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber, then a simple majority approval from resident voters. The tribes might hold the keys to California sports betting, however.
It looks like Indiana is on target to launch its regulated industry before football season.
Regulators published the rules for IN sports betting last week, codifying the provisions signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb in May. They allow the state’s casinos and tracks to offer both in-person and online betting, the latter of which was a key sticking point during the legislative process.
The Indiana Gaming Commission notably imposed no restrictions on available data sources, a decision that fell under its discretion by law. Only Tennessee and Illinois require the use of official league data to settle some bets.
Barring any hiccups in the meantime, Indiana’s first legal sportsbooks should be open for business on Sept. 1.
There’s an appetite for sports betting in Ohio, but there’s not yet a clear picture of how it might happen.
While the governor supports regulation through the Casino Control Commission, lawmakers contend that the only legal path runs through the state lottery. Sports betting, the Legislative Service Commission opines, is not a casino game by definition.
Lottery involvement will likely complicate things if the legislature ends up going that route. More than 1,200 fraternal organizations act as partners to the state agency, as do thousands of convenience stores, bars, and bowling alleys — all of which will lobby for inclusion.
Ohio lawmakers return to their seats in September.
Legislation and regulation continue to drive the bulk of our reporting, but there were a few bits of industry news worth mentioning this week too. Here’s what’s been going on in the business of sports betting:
That’s the end of the list from last week, but the new one is already off to a hot start. Keep your browser here for more coverage like this, and follow @LSPReport on Twitter for updates in your timeline.
Have an excellent week, ladies and gents.