2021 Sports Betting Outlook: Which States Might Legalize This Year?

New Year’s resolutions don’t just apply to people. It turns out states have them, too. Though COVID-19 and politics still dominate national headlines, several legislatures around the country are focused on stimulating their economies by legalizing sports betting.

Here’s a look at seven states with plans (both big and small) for a more prosperous 2021.

Arizona

Definitely starting off small here. Arizona has come close to legalizing sports betting on a number of occasions. But last year Senate Bill 1525 failed to make it out of committee; its promising follow-up, House Bill 2813, took a back seat to the pandemic.

The state legislature expects to revisit HB 2813 sometime in 2021.

Connecticut

When it comes to Connecticut sports betting, there’s definitely a will; lawmakers are just trying to figure out the way. Governor Ned Lamont expressed a desire to “modernize gaming” during a recent State of the State address.

Governor Lamont is working with lawmakers and representatives of the Mashantucket and Mohegan tribes to make that desire a reality in the New Year.

For their part, the Mashantucket Nation recently signed a multi-channel Connecticut online sports betting deal with DraftKings, which will position the state to hit the ground running, once legislation passes.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, legalized sports betting is shaping up to be a real “team” effort. The Sox, The Celtics, and The Patriots, as well as all of the state’s other major sports organizations, lent their support to a failed piece of gambling legislation last year.

There is renewed hope for a 2021 bill, which would combat steep deficits, competition from neighboring states, and revenue-sapping grey market sites.

Missouri

There’s a legislative horse race garnering lots of attention in the Show-Me State. The winner will be whichever of the three proposed Missouri sports betting bills (if any) becomes law in 2021.

Missourans are eager for the boost in revenue, which their sports betting-friendly neighbors, such as Illinois, have enjoyed for quite some time.

New York

Like neighboring Massachusetts, New York is open to legalizing sports betting this year–partially to make up revenue deficits stemming from COVID-19 and grey market gambling.

Unlike Massachusetts, The Empire State’s institutional power has not always favored the move: only recently did Governor Andrew Cuomo publicly recognize the financial benefits of unconventional revenue streams like sports betting, mobile sports betting, and marijuana.

Cuomo’s approach to New York sports betting, however, is raising eyebrows. His proposal to put the lottery in charge of a state-wide sportsbook has some concerned that the new initiative would effectively be a monopoly–thus limiting the opportunity for in-state competitors and narrowing bettors’ experiences, odds, bonuses.

Ohio

Ohio proved to be a battleground state in more ways than one last year. In 2020, a comprehensive gambling bill was introduced, amended, and then dropped from the voting agenda, leaving the 2021 legislature to pick up the pieces–or start from scratch.

Neighboring Indiana and Pennsylvania have seen record-setting success with sports betting, which may just prompt the Buckeye State to step up their game.

Texas

The Lone Star State’s storied, anti-gambling history may be entering a new chapter. With the 2019 legalization of Daily Fantasy Sports and Las Vegas Sands Corporation CEO Sheldon Adelson’s push to line the Texas frontier with casinos, it may be only a matter of time before residents can bet on real-life sports.

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