The Week In Sports Betting News: When Is OK Just Not OK?

Posted on May 11, 2020

Happy Monday, everyone, and welcome to a week with two significant milestones. We’re a day away from two months without major professional sports. And we’re closing in on the two-year anniversary of the biggest piece of sports betting news in American history: the end of PASPA.

The sports betting industry has continued to move forward despite the shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As always, LSR is on top of these stories with most getting shared directly on Twitter @LSPReport.

And for more commentary on the biggest stories of the week, subscribe to the LSR Podcast. Last week’s episode talks about the evolution of DraftKings and FanDuel, and updates on sports betting in multiple states.

Top sports betting news: Oklahoma AG pushes back

Oklahoma sports betting could get shut down before it even starts.

Gov. Kevin Stitt cannot authorize sports betting or other games that are illegal in Oklahoma in renegotiated tribal compacts, Attorney General Mike Hunter said in an official opinion.

The heads of both legislative chambers called for Hunter’s formal opinion. Hunter previously denounced the compacts the same day Stitt announced them.

Hunter also asked the Department of Interior to reject the compacts.

Stitt, who is in a battle with Oklahoma’s tribes over whether or not their compacts needed to be reapproved by Jan. 1, signed renegotiated compacts with the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe. The compacts approved, in theory, sports betting on everything but in-state colleges and in-state collegiate events.

Louisiana sports betting bills move forward

Two sports betting bills moved through a Louisiana senate committee last week with at least one expected to get a full chamber vote this week.

Sen. Cameron Henry told LSR he expects S 130 to get a Senate floor vote this week. His bill is just an approval bill, asking individual parishes to authorize sports betting on November’s ballot.

But it will be no easy feat to get sports betting legalized in Louisiana.

The legislature must pass a referendum bill, then have voters approve the referendum in a majority of parishes this November. Whatever bill is crafted next year then would need to pass with a two-thirds supermajority and get the governor’s approval.

Virginia sports betting live by NFL playoffs?

According to a preliminary schedule from the Virginia Lottery, it looks like sports betting could be live in the state by the end of 2020.

That would give the state’s first operators a great opportunity to acquire customers during the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl, two of the most popular betting events in the US.

The law authorizing Virginia sports betting doesn’t go into effect until July 1. That doesn’t leave the regulator much time to get work done. Regulations are required to be final by Sept. 15.

The Lottery Board will hear public commentary on proposed regulations through mid-August. The board has 90 days to approve applications, the first of which will be accepted in late September.

US sports bettors shift to horse racing

US thoroughbred horse racing filled a gap for sports bettors looking for action last month.

Average handle per race day jumped 176.5% from the prior year to $7.5 million. Overall, handle fell 24.4% to $639.4 million, but that a much smaller decline than the 72.7% drop in race days to 85.

Churchill Downs commented on the positive horse racing trends when it reported first-quarter earnings.

“Even as the number of racetracks that are actively running races has declined, TwinSpires really capitalized,” said CEO Bill Carstanjen. “This has been even more true as we’ve progressed through the second quarter.”

Sports bettors obviously didn’t find esports and table tennis as a complete substitute for major sports. Sports betting handle plummeted 65% in March from February.

Brief hope later dashed in Michigan

Mobile Michigan sports betting and online casino gaming looked like it had a chance to move quicker than the current early 2021 timeline, but news from the governor’s office later squashed those hopes.

Michigan’s gaming regulators sent draft regulations for both to interested parties two weeks ago asking for feedback. The only real issue was getting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to allow emergency rules, which she expressly instructed not to do.

But an email seen by PlayMichigan.com noted Whitmer is not budging on her stance against emergency rules.

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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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