The US sports betting industry will have its eyes on multiple states on Election Day, not just the likely failures in California.
While Prop 26 and Prop 27 for California sports betting drew almost $500 million in one of the most expensive ballot measure races in history, both efforts are almost guaranteed to fail, according to polling.
However, outside of California, multiple elections Tuesday could have an influence on the future of US sports betting.
Could Texas join legal US sports betting?
With California’s doomed efforts likely pushing any legalization potential out to 2026 or beyond, the industry will shift attention to another giant: Texas. The Texas Sports Betting Alliance is already bullish on its chances next year.
SBA spokesperson Cara Gustafson told LSR the organization is not focused on any races but will continue to have conversations with legislative leadership. The session starts Jan. 10, 2023, so Gustafson said new freshman members will be a priority for educational conversations.
The governor’s race also could be less pivotal than before, as Republican incumbents Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick would be past any reelection concerns and might soften their opposition of sports betting, according to an industry source. Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke is a supporter of sports wagering.
Minnesota might have a shot
Minnesota came close to legalizing in 2022 with legislation thwarted at the end of the session. A bill from the Democratic-held House was derailed by the Republican-controlled Senate. The Republican legislators in Minnesota appear less worried about working with the state’s 11 tribes.
“There was a belief the House will switch to Republican control, and they’ll be more open to a more competitive industry than exclusivity to the tribes,” an industry source said. “Their bet was to push it into next year to see what the election looks like.”
All 201 legislative seats are up for election, as well as Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, a sports betting supporter. The issue in Minnesota is fairly split, with 48% in support and 20% undecided about sports betting, according to a poll by the Star Tribune, MPR News and KARE 11.
Georgia on my mind
In Georgia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has put legalizing sports betting among her top issues. Along with legalizing casino gaming, Abrams hopes the revenues could provide Georgians free technical college schooling.
Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp has not taken a stance on the issue but has said he would work with legislators to implement the best model possible.
Sports betting bills stalled in Georgia for the past two years, and the best bet might be a 2024 ballot initiative. However, recent polling by the Georgia News Collaborative found just 45.6% of voters approve of sports betting, while 59.7% support casino gambling in the state.
Tough sell for Missouri sports betting
Missouri came close to passing legislation this year but failed to get it across the line, while neighboring rival Kansas finished the job.
That might not change anytime soon, as one of the main obstacles remains in office. While a supporter of sports betting, Sen. Denny Hoskins also is the main proponent of expanding video lottery terminals in the state – a hindrance to casino support.
“Missouri is more show than substance, and honestly I don’t see a clear pathway yet,” an industry source said. “[The VLT issue] will continue to be an end around the success of the bill. There needs to be some sort of agreement by the casinos to accept some VLTs or the Senator not to push for it.”
Status quo in North Carolina
North Carolina has legal retail sports wagering at tribal casinos, and past online efforts did gain some momentum. This year, a Senate bill died in the House where a representative essentially equated sports betting to monetizing human trafficking.
Lobbyist Ches McDowell said this week’s results will not influence future efforts too much.
Earlier this year, a poll from WRAL News found 52% support online sports betting. Sitting Gov. Roy Cooper said he would sign any passing sports wagering legislation.
Kentucky hopes to keep momentum
This year, a bipartisan bill pushed through the House in Kentucky but failed to rally enough support from the dominant Republican caucus in the Senate. Leading House sponsor Rep. Adam Koenig lost his primary battle, which could limit any new efforts in a short 2023 session.
Half of the Senate and the entire House is up for election this year.
Sitting Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is a supporter of sports betting, but is up for reelection in next year.