The US sports betting landscape quickly filled up in the past five years yet there are still possibilities to legalize in 2023.
Nearly two-thirds of US states have legalized sports betting after a few years of massive tailwinds. Now, however, there are some headwinds hitting the remaining states looking to legalize, including increased media, regulatory and legislative pressures.
While the states with an easier path are already live, there are at least a few markets with a decent chance to pass legislation in 2023. Here’s a ranked look at where the remaining US states sit heading into the next legislative session.
A real shot at legalizing sports betting
Earlier this year, a House bill supporting tribal exclusivity met strong Republican opposition in the Senate, with expectations the House would flip to GOP control in the 2022 election. Instead, it was the Senate that flipped, giving the Democratic-Farmer-Labor House, Senate and Gubernatorial control.
LSR sources suggest a bill similar to last year’s legislation will be proposed and the path looks clear, at least compared to last year.
Big US sports betting industry push
With the eyes on Texas, there is a decent shot at legalization in the Lone Star State. There are multiple billionaire sports team owners in the state hoping for sports betting.
Likewise, sportsbooks want in on the massive state. The state’s chief executives reportedly have also lightened up on their opposition to gaming.
Still, it is not a perfect shot toward legalization. The legislature only meets every other year, and because gaming needs a constitutional change, any effort requires a two-thirds vote in both chambers and then a simple majority from Texans on Election Day.
A major hurdle stands in the way
There is a strong coalition of sports teams, casinos and sportsbooks pushing one piece of legislation. It cleared the House last year before running into an influential senator requiring video lottery terminals to be included in a deal.
Whether the coalition and Sen. Denny Hoskins can reach an agreement is to be determined. Industry insiders remain wary that it is possible.
Up in the air
- North Carolina already legalized retail sports betting at tribal casinos, and it came close with a mobile sports betting bill in 2022. A similar path appears possible in 2023, but can it gain enough momentum to go the final mile?
- Kentucky made it the farthest it has with sports betting legislation in 2022, but it lost its biggest proponent during election season. Now, legislative leadership remains at odds on passing any bills.
- Georgia has come close in the past two years to getting some compromise done for sports betting. Like the rest of the state’s politics, however, this issue is hard to read.
- Vermont flirted with the idea over the years, but has yet to advance any bill to a vote. A recent legislative study suggested how and why Vermont should legalize sports betting, though it remains to be see how much urgency lawmakers will give the notion in 2023.
Not looking great
- South Carolina has a push coming, but like other states in the region, there is strong pushback on gaming issues.
- Oklahoma has had some attempts, but they have failed to gain much momentum. Rep. Ken Luttrell will try his luck with a bill for the second straight year.
- The longest shot of all the states with any semblance of a chance is likely Alabama. There have been some efforts in the past two years to legalize some form of gaming beyond greyhound and horse racing. Lawmakers, however, have failed to come to a consensus on comprehensive gaming language.
No shot at sports betting in 2023
While some states have plenty to hope for in 2023, these ones likely do not:
- Alaska Rep. Adam Wool introduced a sports betting bill last year but it did not move far. Even its sponsor was less than optimistic.
- California, where two sports betting ballot proposals failed badly in November 2022. With sportsbooks and tribes far apart in relations and previous failed legislative efforts, 2023 appears to be a year stakeholders go back to the drawing board.
- Hawaii, a state with no gaming. In years past, some lawmakers have tried to start conversations with bills, but they did not get far.
- Idaho, where there has been no legislative movement for sports betting, and there is little appetite for the issue, according to the Idaho Statesman.
- Utah. The state has never had sports betting legislation introduced.