Online Gambling Bill Tracker

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The US online gambling industry is dynamic and rapidly expanding. Most new forms of gambling require new legislation at the state level. This page concerns itself with bills to expand iGaming (i.e., online casino and poker) and iLottery in the US.

While 2022 was a dud in this regard, we expect 2023 to be a busy year. Many of the same efforts that failed last year may stand better chances of success this time around. We could also see additional states begin to ponder the possibility.

iGaming Legislation – Quick Links

Last updated: February 2023

Online Gambling Expansion & The US Legislative Process

Part of the reason the industry is changing so quickly is that legal online gambling in the US is a very new concept. Prior to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006, the US was essentially a gray market. Afterward, five years of black market activity followed (mostly from online poker sites), prior to the 2011 crackdown known as Black Friday.

It was only at that point that efforts to legalize online gambling began, with New Jersey being the first to launch a full-featured online gambling market. Nevada and Delaware followed suit in a more limited fashion. However, it wasn’t until the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Betting Act (PASPA) in 2018 that the online gambling effort gained steam in other states. The list now includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan, as well.

This state-by-state process is the other reason for the complexity of the US market. Aside from partial prohibitions – like the UIGEA, PASPA and the Wire Act – the federal government has little to say about gambling, leaving it to the states to decide. The result is that the picture is very different in one part of the country or another. Even states which offer the same array of products have their own policies and quirks, different tax rates and licensing structures, and so on. Here’s a breakdown of the repeal of PASPA’s impact two years later.

The decision by a state to legalize or not is therefore not just a “yes” or “no” question. Rather, it entails a lengthy discussion about how gambling will be conducted in the state, and who will have access to the market and on what terms.

2023 Online Gambling Expansion Summary

There’s reason to believe that online gambling legislation may produce some success stories in 2023. Foremost among these is a return to comparative normalcy following the pandemic years.

Although the pandemic is ongoing, it is neither as intense nor as unfamiliar as it was before. Even in 2022, iGaming bills faced an uphill battle because legislators had more pressing matters to attend to. Now, federal COVID relief funding is starting to dry up. At the same time, the loss of tax revenue from retail gaming over the past three years has highlighted for many states the advantages of having a regulated online market.

However, there are still major challenges facing the industry, some of these self-inflicted. The much faster expansion of legal US sports betting led to aggressive marketing campaigns by the top operators, who are now facing public pushback. These are the same companies that also offer online casinos where possible. So, far from holding the door open for online casinos to follow, sportsbooks may have inadvertently slammed it in their face.

Indiana, New Hampshire and Maryland have iGaming bills on the table this year. Kentucky and New York are looking at online poker, and the latter will probably consider online casinos when the time comes to pass a budget. Illinois may also re-table its Internet Gaming Act, but the lack of buzz coming from its sponsors may bode poorly for its chances.

Active Online Gambling Bills By State

Legislative sessions have begun, and efforts to legalize online casinos and poker are underway.

We’ve given every state here a momentum rating. These represent our mostly-subjective assessment of the state’s chances to pass the current bills under consideration, or something substantially similar, within the current legislative session. The ratings are as follows:

  • O – Success! The bill has already passed.
  • A – Bet on it! Support is widespread, all major problems have been addressed, and the bill should pass easily.
  • B – Favorable momentum. The effort has mainstream support, but some hurdles remain.
  • C – Uncertain prospects. The effort may be complicated, or simply new. Too early to call.
  • D – Headwinds. The effort has encountered substantial challenges that make it unlikely to succeed.
  • X – Dead in the water. Either the bill is officially dead, or key stakeholders have indicated they see no way to proceed.

Kentucky

Bill Numbers: HB106
Momentum Rating: D

Kentucky’s champion of online poker legalization, Republican Adam Koenig, lost his re-election bid. However, three Democrats have taken up the effort in his absence.

Like Koenig’s many efforts over the years, HB106 attaches online poker to an effort to legalize sports betting in Kentucky. Poker, on its own, would not be a sufficiently large source of revenue to warrant attention. On the other hand, online casinos would be a bridge too far for conservative Kentucky. At the moment, the state lacks even retail casinos.

Koenig said at various times that he would drop online poker from the bill if that’s what it took to pass sports betting. A fellow Republican, Rep. Michael Meredith, may file a separate sports betting bill to compete with the Democrat effort. He has said it’s unlikely to include poker.

Red to begin with, Kentucky swung even further to the right in the recent midterms. Even sports betting faces an uphill climb, so Bonus would rate the state’s chances for online poker this year as being relatively low. Making matters more difficult is the fact that 2023 is a non-budget year. That means a shorter legislative session and a three-fifths supermajority required to pass any bill that would establish new taxes, such as this one.

Indiana

Bill Numbers: HB1536
Momentum Rating: B-

Indiana has been considered by many to be the most likely state to succeed with an iGaming effort in 2023. Even so, it’s no sure thing.

An early draft of the bill circulated in December 2022. Some changes were made before it appeared in the House. The proposed tax rate is now 20% rather than 18%, and more money would go to addiction services.

The bill’s sponsor is Rep. Ethan Manning, a Republican. He and industry analysts are optimistic about its chances. However, its most significant challenge might come not from Manning’s fellow House Republicans but from the Senate.

Senate President pro tempore Rodric Bray has said he is opposed to the effort. The bill has until Feb 27 to cross over from the House to the Senate, which might only be the start of the real struggle.

Maryland

Bill Numbers: SB267
Momentum Rating: C

Maryland is a state that looks pretty likely to legalize online casinos eventually. On the other hand, it’s one where the effort is expected to take some time.

The biggest obstacle it faces is a constitutional requirement to hold a referendum on any gaming expansion. It has already cleared that hurdle once for sports betting, in 2020. The question is whether voters will be willing to consider a second major expansion so quickly after the first.

Two Democrat Senators – Ronald Watson and Nancy King – think the time is right. They’ve introduced a bill to put the question on the 2024 general election ballot.

It’s still too early to say how much support their effort will receive. However, the need for a referendum means that even if it succeeds, we’d be looking at a 2025 launch date.

New Hampshire

Bill Numbers: SB104
Momentum Rating: D

If New Hampshire legalizes online casinos, it will likely be on similar terms to its online sports betting market. It will be a small market, open only to a few operators.

Republican Senator Timothy Lang quietly introduced an online casino bill for 2023. At the moment, it seems more like a placeholder than a full bill, lacking details like licensing fees and a revenue-sharing or tax structure.

For that reason, Bonus expects the 2023 effort to be more of the starting point for future conversations than a serious push to legalize immediately.

New York

Bill Numbers: A1380 (poker)
Momentum Rating: C+

Most pundits rate New York as the second most likely state to legalize online casinos this year, after Indiana. Sen. Joseph Addabbo has undoubtedly been a vocal proponent of the idea. He got the ball rolling quickly in 2022, shortly after online sports betting got underway in the state.

There’s no lack of industry support for the idea, as New York is a “Holy Grail” state for online gambling due to its high population, average income, and liberal inclinations. The question is whether Addabbo’s fellow lawmakers will be interested in further gambling expansion just one year after online sports betting. Bidding for downstate casino licenses is currently underway, compounding the “gambling fatigue.”

When the 2023 New York online casino effort gets started officially, it will likely be in the form of language included in a budget proposal. In the meantime, a separate attempt to legalize just online poker (without casino gaming) is underway, thanks to Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow.

States To Watch For Online Casino & Poker

Not every state with an active bill is likely to see it pass. Nor is every state without one a lost cause. Here we look at some states whose legislative sessions aren’t in session, or which don’t currently have an active bill but are part of the conversation regardless.

Naturally, the longer a legislative session runs without a bill appearing, the less likely it becomes that the state will pass one in the current year. However, we’ve seen “buzzer beater” efforts in the past, such as Michigan’s midnight hour push in 2019. There are also times when the political will is there to pass a bill, but circumstances don’t allow it in the current year.

Here, too, we assign each state a momentum rating, similar to but more forward-looking than those for the active bills.

  • A – Legislation imminent. The state will almost certainly see a bill either in the current legislative session or the next one, and that bill should have a good chance of passing.
  • B – Favorable momentum. There is significant support for the idea and a bill is likely in the current legislative session or the next, though there’s no guarantee it will pass.
  • C – Uncertain prospects. There is a conversation happening in the state, but also significant obstacles. It’s too early or too complicated to predict whether a bill will appear. If one does, it will face further challenges.
  • D – Headwinds. There has been a conversation about the prospect, but there are too many hurdles at the moment for it to be likely that a viable bill will appear.
  • X – No chance. An effort has recently been defeated or insurmountable difficulties have arisen. Barring a miracle, no bill is possible in the current or upcoming legislative session.

California

Momentum Rating: X

California is both Holy Grail and Swamp of Despair for online gambling expansion. It’s wealthy and liberal, and has numerous gambling options already. Almost everyone wants to see gambling expansion happen, as it would more than double the total population participating in the US iGaming market. And yet there are simply too many competing interests for it to happen, despite multiple efforts over recent years. Adding to those difficulties is the constitutional requirement to hold a referendum on any proposed gambling expansion.

2022 saw a huge, expensive push for sports betting (whether retail or online). It resulted in two ballot measures which both failed spectacularly. With war chests depleted and egg on their faces, it’s virtually impossible that California gambling expansion advocates will have another kick at the can this year. The effort is likely to resume in 2024, when the general election provides another opportunity for ballot measures. However, given how big a lift sports betting is proving to be, it’s unlikely that anyone will try to push online casinos through at the same time.

Florida

Momentum Rating: X

For a brief moment in 2021, it appeared that Florida had a chance to break into the iGaming space within a few years. A compact to enable mobile sports betting in the state had been agreed upon by the Governor and Seminole Tribe, and one of its provisions promised additional negotiations for iGaming within 36 months.

However, several members of both the House and Senate refused to ratify the compact on the basis of that clause. As such, it was struck out, a move that bodes very poorly for Florida’s potential for online casinos. Worse still, even the state’s sports betting market has run into legal trouble. Until that battle has finished playing out, the odds of online casino legislation are nil.

Illinois

Momentum Rating: C-

When the Illinois Internet Gaming Act first appeared in 2021, it seemed full of promise. However, it stalled after a few months. Illinois has two-year sessions, so it remained on the table in 2022 but never came up for discussion again. Its sponsor in the Senate, Sen. Cristina Castro, said that another year would be necessary to educate other lawmakers on the subject.

The IGA or something like it will probably be on the table again this year. However, we’re used to hearing a lot of buzz about upcoming bills, and Illinois maintained radio silence on the subject of online casinos through 2022. Moreover, many businesses in the state rely on revenue from video lottery terminals and are opposed to iGaming because they believe it will cut into that. Overall, it looks like the state faces long odds this year.

Iowa

Momentum Rating: X (2023) / B (2024)

Iowa is a bit of a dark horse in the iGaming race. It hasn’t been part of the conversation much to date, yet there’s no reason it shouldn’t be, particularly if neighboring Illinois manages to get a bill through first.

However, Iowa is a state whose legislative schedule follows a two-year cycle. Since online casinos would be a revenue generation engine, such discussions belong in budget years, with their longer legislative sessions. Those are even-numbered years in Iowa, so don’t expect to see a bill in 2023.

Massachusetts

Momentum Rating: C

Massachusetts had mixed success in 2022, managing to legalize sports betting while failing to pass an online lottery bill. Licensing hearings for the new sports betting market are currently underway.

What we’ve seen in other states is that a successful sports betting effort often gets the discussion started for iGaming expansion. However, we’ve yet to see an iGaming bill pass immediately after sports betting. Massachusetts may well follow that pattern, meaning that we would see the ball get rolling this year but not much chance of such an effort reaching the finish line right away.

North Dakota

Momentum Rating: D

North Dakota was not on anyone’s radar as a potential state for online gambling until 2021. Tiny, conservative, and far from other states with legal iGaming, there was nothing going for it.

Even so, it made a brief, ill-fated attempt to legalize online poker in 2021. That failed so badly that it seemed that the story would end as soon as it began. However, in 2022, tribes in the state negotiated new gaming compacts with the Governor. They tried to secure the rights to offer online sports-betting statewide. Although they didn’t get that, they did receive permission to offer online casino gaming and sports betting within the boundaries of their own reservations.

That’s a far cry from passing an online gambling bill. However, it indicates that Governor Doug Burgum is not entirely opposed to the idea, which may open the door to having a conversation about the possibility of statewide online gambling at some point in the future.

Ohio

Momentum Rating: C

Ohio has just launched its online sports betting market, which puts it in the same basket as New York and Massachusetts. Although online casinos don’t have a champion here to the same extent as they do in the Empire State with Sen. Addabbo, it’s quite likely that this is the year we see them come up as a topic of conversation in the legislature.

Timeline Of US Online Gambling Expansion

The history of US online gambling is too long and complicated to detail in full here. Instead, we have provided a simple timeline of successful legislation and launches of online casinos, online poker, and online instant lotteries.

You can click the link to any particular state’s page to get more info about how exactly the process played out.

2011

  • New Jersey passes its first online casino bill, but then-Governor Chris Christie vetoes it due to concerns he wants addressed.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice clarifies that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting and would not impede other forms of online gambling.

2012

  • Georgia launches the first online lottery in the US.
  • Delaware passes a bill to allow online casinos and poker rooms to operate in partnership with the lottery.

2013

  • New Jersey passes a revised online gambling bill, and NJ online casinos and poker rooms launch later the same year.
  • Nevada passes an online poker bill, and NV online poker rooms launch later the same year.
  • Delaware online gambling gets underway.
  • The Kentucky Lottery Board approves the idea of an online lottery. No legislation is needed.

2014

  • Michigan launches its online lottery, including instant games.

2015

2016

  • WSOP launches the first interstate poker network under the 2015 compact.
  • Kentucky launches its online lottery.

2017

  • New Hampshire and Pennsylvania pass online lottery bills.

2018

  • New Hampshire and Pennsylvania launch their online lotteries.
  • Pennsylvania passes an omnibus gambling expansion bill, covering online casinos, poker and sports betting.
  • The Department of Justice attempts to reverse course on the Wire Act, sparking a legal battle.

2019

  • Pennsylvania online casinos launch, followed a few months later by the state’s first online poker room.
  • West Virginia and Michigan pass omnibus gambling expansion bills, covering all three major verticals.
  • Rhode Island’s successful sports betting bill contains provisions that also enable the lottery to go online.

2020

  • West Virginia online casinos launch, but no poker rooms appear.
  • Rhode Island’s online lottery launches.
  • Virginia passes an online lottery bill.
  • The Washington D.C. Lottery Board quietly passes emergency rules for online instant games.

2021

  • Michigan online casinos launch, followed a week later by the state’s first online poker room.
  • Virginia and Washington, D.C. begin offering online instant lottery games.
  • The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirms a lower court’s ruling that the Department of Justice’s revised Wire Act opinion is invalid. Interstate gambling compacts remain legal.
  • Connecticut legalizes sports betting and iGaming. Its online casinos and sportsbooks launch on Oct. 19 after a fairly swift bureaucratic process.

2022

  • New York online sports betting launches, and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow is quick to opine that online poker and perhaps casinos could be next.
  • Sen. Joseph Addabbo introduces an online casino bill in the New York Senate. Poker is implicitly included.
  • Rep. Adam Koenig resumes his push for sports betting and online poker in Kentucky, with a bill very similar to the one which failed in 2021.
  • Indiana introduces an online casino bill, which quickly fails.
  • North Dakota tribes ask for online gambling privileges but receive permission only to conduct such activities on their own land.
  • Michigan joins the Multistate Internet Gaming Agreement and sets the stage for poker sites to begin sharing traffic as of the beginning of 2023.

2023

  • Indiana introduces a second online casino bill.
  • New York introduces an online poker bill.
  • Maryland considers adding an online casino measure to the 2024 general election ballot.
  • New Hampshire starts discussing online casinos.
  • The online sports betting effort resumes in Kentucky, with online poker once again coming along for the ride.

Online Gambling Expansion FAQ

The basics are the same in every state. A bill can originate in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. It will get several readings and go through a committee process before a final vote. After that, it proceeds to the other branch of the legislature for a similar process.

If the two branches can’t agree on specifics or there are competing bills from the two branches, a bill might bounce back and forth several times. Once both branches have approved the same draft of the same bill, it goes to the Governor to either sign into law, or veto.

The specifics vary from state to state. This includes the length of the legislative session, the structure of the committees, and potentially even the number of votes a bill needs to pass. There are also various other procedural differences that usually don’t matter, but can occasionally add wrinkles to a bill’s path to becoming law.

In the current US political climate, states’ rights are a hot button topic. It would be unpopular for the federal government to involve itself too heavily in the subject of gambling.

The fact that the federal government has mostly stayed out of the fray is a good thing, as to the extent it has involved itself, it has been an opponent rather than an ally. The best that can be hoped for at this time is that it will back off entirely and allow states to decide for themselves.

There’s considerable variation, but most states have applied a tax rate of between 10% and 20% to most online verticals. Nevada is an outlier at the low end, charging just 6.75% for all gambling, online or retail. At the other extreme, Pennsylvania charges an eye-watering 54% for online slots, though it taxes table games and poker at a more reasonable 17%.

State-level government organizations. For states that have commercial casinos, it will typically be the same regulator overseeing both retail and online gambling. Elsewhere, it is often the state’s lottery commission, or perhaps a horse racing authority.

There are many reasons to legalize and regulate online gambling. The most common arguments in favor of it relate to the existence of illegal offshore sites, and the fact that regulated operators are preferable in comparison. Specifically:

  • Prohibition is a failure when it comes to online gambling. It’s impossible to stamp out illegal offshore sites, but it is possible to draw players away with a superior, legal alternative.
  • Regulatory supervision makes for a safer product than is available in the black market.
  • Tax revenues from online gambling can be used to mitigate its harm, as well as to fund education and other worthy initiatives.
  • When neighboring states have legalized online gambling, failure to do so means losing potential revenue from players crossing the border to gamble.
  • A legal online gambling industry creates local jobs, and usually quite well-paying ones.

Somewhat surprisingly, the answer is no. The idea that it does is often trotted out as an argument against legalization. However, evidence to date shows that the opposite is true, and that legal online and retail gambling industries support one another.

The most important thing to do to help the cause is to raise awareness of the dangers of the black market, the fact that prohibition is a failed policy, and that a regulated alternative is the best solution.

The main ways you can do that are to share articles promoting regulated markets, and most of all to write to your state-level representatives. Misconceptions about online gambling abound, and its moral adversaries can be disproportionately loud in their objections. Being equally vocal – but better informed – in your support is the most helpful thing you can do to counteract these obstacles.

About the Author
Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon

Alex Weldon is the Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus. He’s a former semiprofessional poker player and has been writing about online gambling professionally since 2014. Prior to his current position, he was Managing Editor at Online Poker Report and, before that, the GameIntel Poker Update, a subscription newsletter for industry executives. Alex provides insightful content on the regulated online casino and poker industries, with an emphasis on legislation, regulation, responsible gambling and business strategy. His writing about poker has earned him multiple nominations for the American Poker Awards over the years.

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