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.

Most efforts failed last year, including bills in New York and Indiana that many had high hopes for. However, Rhode Island emerged as a dark horse candidate and became the year’s only iGaming success story. Unfortunately, 2024 did not produce any such surprises.

Some of the same states were in contention once again in 2024—New York and Illinois, for instance. However, Indiana and New Hampshire both signaled early on that they would be dropping out of the race this year. Ohio lawmakers have begun discussing the possibility but aren’t ready to look at a bill quite yet.

Maryland was many analysts’ favorite to legalize in 2024, but couldn’t quite get the job done. It will take some momentum into future years, however, having successfully passed its bill in the House before being met by apathy in the Senate. Maine also emerged as a dark-horse possibility and came even closer, passing in the Senate and getting as far as a floor vote in the House twice, but coming up just short each time.

iGaming Legislation – Quick Links

Last updated: April 17, 2024

2024 Online Gambling Expansion Summary

The rapid expansion of US starting in 2018 and booming online casino revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic led to hopes that iGaming expansion was poised to sweep the nation. So far, that hasn’t materialized, with only Connecticut and Rhode Island having joined the ranks of online casino states since 2021.

One consequence of that is that the story hasn’t changed much from year to year. For the most part, it is the same collection of states taking another kick at the can with each new legislative session, often with the same politicians spearheading the effort.

If anything, the field has been thinner in 2024. Indiana suffered a political scandal that made gambling expansion a non-starter. New Hampshire will also be sitting this year out after a promising attempt in 2023.

On the other hand, Maryland had potential this year that it has lacked in the past. Its lawmakers introduced a bill in 2023, but by the lawmakers’ own admission, that was a conversation starter with no real potential to pass.

Small states that aren’t part of the mainstream conversation often have the best chances of slipping a bill through. In 2023, that was Rhode Island. In 2024, it’s Maine, which is looking to expand its tribal sports betting model to encompass online casino gaming as well.

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.

Illinois

Bill Numbers: SB1656, HB2239
Momentum Rating: D-
Status: In committee

Technically, Illinois has a chance to legalize online casinos in 2024. The latest version of its Internet Gaming Act—filed in the Senate last year by Sen. Cristina Castro and in the House by Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr.—is still active by virtue of the state’s two-year legislative sessions. On Jan. 10, each was re-assigned to the Executive Committee of its respective half of the legislature.

However, the resounding silence out of Illinois in late 2023 didn’t bode well for the bill’s chances. Although it looks like a good state for iGaming on paper, opposition from retail casino unions and the video gaming terminal industry may be too much to surmount.

Rep. Gonzalez has told Bonus that his goal for 2024 is a Committee discussion. To that end, he made sure that on Jan. 31, the bill advanced to the House Gaming Committeewhere it will get a hearing. That may also be where it ends the year, but it’s a positive sign that the conversation is ongoing. On Feb. 7, its companion bill in the Senate likewise made its way to the Senate Gaming Committee.

Gonzalez is involved in a contested primary race, so his focus has been on re-election. Because of that, he ended up skipping a March committee hearing when the bill might have had a chance to get some attention.

Iowa

Bill Number: HSB227
Momentum Rating: X
Status: Stalled in committee

Thanks to Iowa’s two-year legislative sessions, its 2023 online casino bill technically remains active in a House Ways and Means subcommittee. However, its sponsor, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, has told Bonus he doesn’t plan to try to advance it from there this year.

There is some progress being made on building support for the effort, but it’s a two-steps-forward, one-step-back situation. Iowa’s retail gambling market has a large number of stakeholders with different interests, so it has been difficult to get them all on board at once. Since last year, it seems that iGaming has gained the support of one casino operator, but lost another.

Maine

Bill Number: LD1777
Momentum Rating: X
Status: Passed in Senate, failed in House

Maine was a bit of a wildcard for 2024. The state granted online sports betting rights to gaming tribes in 2022, but the market only launched in November 2023. That didn’t stop House Rep. Laura Supica from attempting to expand the deal to include online casinos last year.

That effort quickly and quietly fizzled, but that didn’t mean it was doomed this year. Quite likely, many of Supica’s peers weren’t willing to consider anything else until sports betting was up and running.

The 2024 effort began in the Senate, rather than the House. The first chance to hear what Senators think about the idea was cut short when a bomb threat at the State House forced the cancellation of the first public hearing of the year. Later in January, the bill came up for discussion again but ended up tabled because of technical fixes needed to bring it in line with the state’s other plans for gambling expansion.

Often, once a bill stalls, it doesn’t get going again in the same legislative session. Maine has bucked that trend, however, with lawmakers on the Joint Standing Committee on Veterans and Legal Affairs agreeing to resurrect the bill with an adjustment to the tax rate. The proposal changed to a 16% tax for online casinos, rather than the 10% paid by sportbooks.

On April 9, the companion bill received a floor vote in the House. Typically, bills without a chance to pass don’t make it that far, and the vote for LD1777 was close. Ultimately, however, it came up just short, being defeated by a margin of 74 votes to 71.

The Senate kept hope alive, passing an amended version of its bill on April 16. That triggered a second vote in the House, but the only change was in the wrong direction: on the second attempt, the bill failed by five votesrather than three. The silver lining is that, having come this close, Rep. Supica will almost certainly be back at it next year, assuming she wins re-election in November.

Maryland

Bill Number: SB565 (call for referendum), SB603 (implementation details), HB1319 (House companion bill)
Momentum Rating: X
Status: Passed in House. Original Senate bills abandoned. House bill stalled in Senate Budget & Taxation Committee.

Maryland’s constitution forbids new forms of gambling, so adding online casinos would require an amendment. That, in turn, means putting the question to voters.

Maryland Senator Ron Watson filed two bills to that end: one to call the referendum, the other to specify how things will work if voters approve the amendment. Watson filed the first on Jan. 25, and the second two days later.

The implementation bill closely resembled the draft obtained by Bonus in late 2023. The most significant change was a one-point increase to the proposed tax rate, to 47%. 

Two of the state’s six retail casinos remain opposed to the effort, as does the casino workers’ union. Watson’s effort petered out on March 13, as his fellow Senators didn’t see a budgetary need for online casino revenue at the moment.

That left the companion effort in the House of Delegates, which got underway on Feb. 9, with Del. Vanessa E. Atterbeary taking point on the effort. Her bill HB1319 is similar to Watson’s in most regards but proposes a higher tax rate of 55%, plus a 20% premium on live dealer games.

The House passed its bill on March 16 with a last-minute amendment to ban credit card deposits, keeping hope alive. However, that merely kicked the ball back into the Senate’s court, giving Watson and his allies a little more time to convince their peers that the state does need the revenue after all.

It would have taken a last-minute miracle to get the bill through the Senate, and none materialized. For practical purposes, the bill was dead once the legislature finalized its budget without any mention of online casino revenue. A few days later, the legislative session expired with the House online casino bill still languishing in the Senate Budget & Taxation Committee.

New York

Bill Number: SB8185AB9198
Momentum Rating: D-
Status: In committee

New York receives a lot of attention for online casino expansion because it has the potential to be the largest market in the country. The effort’s champion, Sen. Joseph Addabbo, says the state’s share of online casino revenue would exceed $1 billion annually, and he’s probably right.

However, with so much at stake, there are also a lot of dissenting voices. Retail casino workers’ unions were among the critics that caused the 2023 effort to fail. Addabbo has attempted to appease the unions this year by including $25 million in funding to help retail workers potentially impacted by online casino launches.

Most of the rules for online casinos remain the same: a 30.5% tax rate, $2 million licenses for operators partnering with a retail casino, and a $10 million “untethered” option for operators without such a partner.

This year’s bill also includes an online lotterysomething Gov. Kathy Hochul is known to want.

The governor will be key to the effort’s success or failure. Sen. Addabbo has said he won’t press forward with the effort unless she’s willing to put it into the annual budget. Unfortunately, the budget’s first draft included no mention of iGaming.

Hopes for New York in 2024 therefore appear somewhat thin, though Addabbo has not given up hope yet. On Feb. 1, he made some tweaks to his legislation, shortening the licensing timeframe from 180 days to 120, and including VLT operators as eligible parties to apply for a license. The latter change may help the effort’s chances, as any gaming interests that would see themselves cut out of a potential online gambling market tend to become opponents.

Addabbo continues to negotiate with the unions, who seem unimpressed with the new funding. Meanwhile, Gov. Hochul’s priority seems to be to get the downstate retail casino licensing process finished before considering anything else.

Addabbo’s usual counterpart in the Assembly, J. Gary Pretlow, filed his companion measure on Valentine’s Day. His AB9198 is identical in content to Addabbo’s bill but faces the same problem, that it’s unlikely to advance except as part of a budget bill, which requires the Governor’s support.

Wyoming

Bill Number: HB120
Momentum Rating: X
Status: Failed introduction

Wyoming wasn’t on the radar for online gambling legislation coming into 2024 but emerged as a dark horse candidate in February. Just before the start of its legislative session on Feb. 12, Rep. Bob Davis told Bonus and other publications about his plans to introduce an online casino bill.

Davis’ proposal followed closely in the footsteps of the state’s online sports betting law, including the same 10% tax rate. Licenses would cost $100,000 for the first five-year period and $50,000 to renew for each additional period. The bill also anticipates the possibility of joining the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement for purposes of online poker, allowing for “reciprocal agreements with permissible jurisdictions.”

Unfortunately, the Wyoming effort ended as abruptly as it began. Davis told Bonus that he thought the bill’s chances would be better than 50/50 “if it gets to the floor.” However, that didn’t happen. On Feb. 15, the bill “failed introduction,” meaning the legislature won’t consider it this year.

It would have been remarkable for a state to succeed on its first attempt without prior discussion, but we’ve also seen recently that smaller states seem to have an easier time with it than large ones. There aren’t as many competing interests lobbying in a state like Wyoming—population less than 600,000—as there are in New York or Illinois.

Davis says he hopes to get a discussion going about iGaming later in the year, after the formal end of the legislative session. He may have better chances getting his fellow lawmakers to consider the possibility the next time around.

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 Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan, as well. Rhode Island will soon join them.

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.

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

  • Efforts in the most likely states – New York, Indiana and Illinois – all fail.
  • Rhode Island legalizes online casinos, albeit as a monopoly market shared by the state lottery, Bally’s, and IGT.
  • New Jersey extends its online casino law for another five years, now expiring in November 2028.

2024

  • Rhode Island’s online casino market launches successfully on March 5, following a four-day test period. Contrary to expectation, live dealer games are included from the start.

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 an online gambling industry analyst with nearly ten years of experience. He currently serves as Casino News Managing Editor for Bonus.com, part of the Catena Media Network. Other gambling news sites he has contributed to include PlayUSA and Online Poker Report, and his writing has been cited in The Atlantic.
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