Another week of news begins with another state taking a significant step toward legal sports betting.
Launch in Arkansas took top billing last week, a key component of the broader gambling expansion voters in the Land of Opportunity approved last year. It is the ninth US state with legal sports betting.
We turn our attention to the Northeast this week, where a craving has spread through the region like a brush fire. Rhode Island was the first New England state to legalize sports betting in 2018, and it finally has some competition on the block.
We’re looking at you, New Hampshire.
New Hampshire legalizes sports betting
Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill to legalize sports betting in New Hampshire last Friday, making his state the sixth to pass a law this year. The structure for NH sports betting is about as good as it gets in the US.
The new law authorizes both in-person and statewide online sports betting, with remote registration available. Regulators will award up to 15 licenses to qualified operators — five retail and 10 online — via a competitive bidding process later this year.
Restrictions on in-state collegiate betting and in-play wagers at retail sportsbooks represent the only hiccups in an otherwise favorable framework.
While Sununu included $10 million in associated revenue in his budget for the upcoming fiscal year, state officials expect no profit until 2021. The note attached to the bill targets July 1, 2020 for launch.
The timeline might be in flux in these early days, but the legislation itself is set in stone.
DC Council does as DC Council does
Sports betting is also legal in Washington, D.C. under a law approved late last year. Last week, officials in the District took a significant and misguided step toward implementation.
Lawmakers approved the $215 million contract with Greek operator Intralot to cover DC Lottery sales and DC sports betting for the next five years. “Controversial” is one of many adjectives that might fit the bill.
A black cloud hangs over the deal. The vendor has business ties to elected officials, including a sponsor who’s the subject of an FBI investigation. Nothing about the sports betting situation seems ideal from an outside view.
Is it really sports betting?
Calling the District’s product sports betting is a misrepresentation of reality, for that matter.
Intralot will provide a fixed-payout sports lottery that holds around 30%, skimming an inordinate amount of money from the ecosystem. An eagerness to launch before the end of the year and a misleading sales pitch from the vendor allowed it to shoehorn itself into the sweetheart deal without competition.
Fortunately for discerning bettors, DC’s stadiums and arenas will eventually offer traditional sports betting using suppliers that already operate in other markets.
NC sports betting on the move
Legislative overtime might be the key that unlocks sports betting in North Carolina this year.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the budget before the July 1 deadline, forcing lawmakers to work into the summer months in Raleigh. That extension reopened the door for a number of bills that stagnated near the end of the session, including S 154.
Barely a page long, the tribal bill from Sen. Jim Davis simply adds sports betting to the list of approved Class III games. What previously looked like an either-or proposition now looks like a best-of-both-worlds situation.
A second bill is also a favorite to pass — likely as S 574 — to study the feasibility of state regulation via a new NC Gaming Commission. The plan is to allow the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to offer sports betting at its Appalachian casinos in the short term, while commissioners explore a future statewide implementation.
That one is very close to the finish line, lacking just a Senate concurrence on House amendments. The unamended tribal bill is through the Senate and awaiting a final vote on the House floor.
Caesars, incidentally, operates Harrah’s Cherokee for the tribe.
Regulatory tidbits for your appetite
Iowa is among the six states with a 2019 sports betting law on the books, and regulators there are putting the pieces in place. The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission (IRGC) held a public hearing last week to discuss the specifics of implementation, which are largely noncontroversial.
Like neighboring Indiana, Iowa hopes to launch its regulated industry before the upcoming football season. The IRGC meets twice more between now and then, and we’re expecting to see rules emerge from one of those sessions.
And finally, New York is now standing on the doorstep of legal, regulated sports betting. Finally, everything is in place except for final approvals, and LSR understands that at least one of the state’s commercial casinos plans to open its sportsbook this week.
This week in sports betting
We’ll be keeping an eye on North Carolina this week, expecting both bills to pass in the coming days. The latest intel from Sen. Jim Davis indicates it could happen as early as Monday evening.
Check back for more as it develops, and follow @LSPReport on Twitter for updates throughout the week. Happy Monday, y’all.