Sadly, 2022 has been a dud of a year when it comes to states legalizing online casino. At least 2021 saw Connecticut legalize and launch within the same calendar year. Before that, we have to go back to Michigan, and the tail end of 2019, to see an iGaming bill receive a governor’s signature.
Of course, lawmakers have had a few things distracting them over the past two years. There’s been a presidential election, a war in Ukraine, an attempted insurrection, a financial crisis … oh, and a pandemic.
There’s always something going on in the world, but we can hope that 2023 will be a more sedate year for domestic and world events than we’ve seen in a while. Perhaps that will bring with it a renewed push for US online casino expansion.
So, how likely is it that we’ll see another state legalize iGaming?
Generally speaking, lawmakers who have introduced bills in previous years tend to reintroduce them in subsequent years. There were several failed attempts in 2022, so we can expect those states to be in the running in 2023. However, some of those efforts stand much better chances of success than others.
We’ve decided to focus on the top three candidates: New York, Illinois, and Indiana. And because we’re a gambling site, we’ll evaluate each state’s odds as a sports betting line – American odds, naturally. We’ve also lumped various dark horse candidates together as “Any Other State.”
For this task, we selected three industry analysts:
- Bonus News Editor Alex Weldon
- Freelance News Writer Cole Rush
- Catena Media VP of North America Dustin Gouker
As you’ll see, some of us are considerably more optimistic than others.
New York iGaming Legalization Betting Lines
- Alex: +200 Yes / – 200 No (33%)
- Cole: +275 Yes / -275 No (27%)
- Dustin: +500 Yes / -500 No (17%)
There have been maybe two dozen reasonably serious attempts at legalization since 2018 if we include repeated tries by the same states. Of those, we’ve seen four successes. So I’m starting from a baseline of about +400 to +500 for a typical attempt.
Of these states, I think New York’s got the best chance in 2023. Online sports betting launched this year and is bringing in huge amounts of money. And online gambling is pretty familiar to those in New York City by this point, having had New Jersey’s legal market just across the river since 2013. The industry’s also going to push really hard for it, obviously, because it’s one of those “Holy Grail” states.
That said, it usually takes more than two years of trying for lawmakers to push a bill through. Even so, I don’t hate New York’s chances, given all those other factors.
Right now, New York’s online casino prospects appear to rest on the shoulders of one man: state Sen. Joseph Addabbo, who has committed to making legislation a top priority in 2023.
That’s quite a burden to carry, and don’t get me wrong, Addabbo was indeed instrumental in moving NY sports betting forward. New York is the fourth most populous state. It has the country’s biggest metropolis. It’s populated by various stakeholders who want a slice of the proverbial pie. I expect a tense legal battle and contention over a likely high tax rate (similar to 51% on sports betting). Add it all up, and we’ve got a recipe for 2024-25 online casinos in New York; 2023 is just too soon.
I have covered the New York legislature since 2016, when a daily fantasy sports bill saved DraftKings and FanDuel from an uncertain future. And here’s what I know: New York politics are complicated.
Anyone who tells you anything with certainty about the NY legislature’s plans on anything, let alone gambling, is lying. Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr. is carrying the torch for online casinos to join the state’s online sports betting market next year. Surely the revenue coming in from neighboring states with online casino will be a compelling narrative.
The best chance online casino gaming has is to get included in the state budget. The Senate is likely willing again to move on iGaming, but the Assembly has always been the problem for traction in the past. New York has a real chance to pass, but it’s a decided underdog in my book.
Illinois iGaming Legalization Betting Lines
- Alex: +600 Yes / – 600 No (14%)
- Cole: -200 Yes / +200 No (67%)
- Dustin: +2000 Yes / -2000 No (5%)
I was a big fan of the 2021 Illinois Internet Gaming Act. Aside from the in-person registration period, there was a lot to like about it, especially the provisions for fast-tracking licenses. I thought its chances were good at the time.
However, I think the current silence coming from that state speaks volumes. It’ll be back on the table in 2023, but I think if the lawmakers behind it believed it might succeed, we’d be hearing some hype about it by now.
There’s also just so much going on with retail casino construction at the moment, and some controversies around that. Add to that the opposition from VLT operators and I think this one’s going to have to wait a few more years, as promising as it looks on paper.
Online gambling is not a partisan issue, but Illinois politics create a perfect storm for online casino legislation.
Incumbent J.B. Pritzker won his gubernatorial election in a landslide in November, and he has a track record of progressive policy decisions and big moves aimed at bringing in state revenue. A few marquee examples: legalization of recreational cannabis and the launch of Illinois online sports betting. The current guard seems likely to carry on with Illinois’ push for new revenue streams of late.
Oh, and did I mention I’m a born-and-raised Illinois resident? So maybe my bias is shining through here. I think Illinois legislators will look to the success of other states — nearby Michigan, in particular — and expedite the process of bringing online casinos to the Land of Lincoln.
Illinois should be a prime candidate for online casino legalization, and discussions and bills have floated around for years.
But the macro-political situation in the state, and the fact that gaming interests present a far-from-united front, makes it difficult to see how something gets done next year. The discussions will be had again in back channels and perhaps publicly, but I would not wager much money (even for educational purposes) that Illinois gets it done in 2023.
Indiana iGaming Legalization Betting Lines
- Alex: +400 Yes / -400 No (20%)
- Cole: -500 Yes / +500 No (83%)
- Dustin: -200 Yes / +200 No (67%)
Just looking at this year’s effort, you’d rate Indiana’s chances at close to nil. We barely had time to write an article from the time we’d heard about it until the bill was already dead.
However, Indiana’s one of those states with shorter and longer legislative sessions in alternating years. This year was a short, non-budget year, and that’s why the bill went nowhere. Next year it will have a lot more time, and revenue will be on the lawmakers’ minds.
Still, it’s a pretty conservative state, which makes things harder. There hasn’t been much time for the push to build momentum, either. On the other hand, its sports betting market was one of the early success stories, and lawmakers will want to follow up on that.
All told, I don’t have enough information to really move the line much either way, and those considerations seem to cancel out. Therefore, I’m sticking with my baseline.
I’ve got a good feeling about Indiana. The state tried to make a push for online casinos in 2021 and 2022, but various external factors muddled the approach. State legislators seem ready to give it another go, with a bill very similar to the latest attempt.
Indiana beat neighboring Illinois to the sports betting punch, and I think it’ll do the same with online casinos. If that spurs Illinois to pass legislation of its own, that’s just a bonus.
I really think Indiana gets it done this year.
They have set the stage for online casino legalization with discussions taking place over many years, and a bill that has already seen the light of day.
Indiana also already has a robust online sports betting industry. Outside of Texas sports betting, the online gambling industry seems laser-focused on passing a bill here. That being said, the window to get something done is short, and any hiccup could mean iGaming doesn’t make it to the finish line.
Any Other State Betting Lines
- Alex: +400 Yes / -400 No (20%)
- Cole: +150 Yes / -150 No (40%)
- Dustin: +1500 Yes / -1500 No (6%)
Maybe it’s the gambler’s fallacy, but I feel like the US is due for a successful iGaming effort this year. Retail casino closures during the pandemic highlighted the value of having an online revenue stream. Meanwhile, the ongoing economic crisis makes those tax dollars all the more important.
It’s hard to imagine which state in particular might try for online casinos. Iowa and Colorado get floated a lot. But Iowa just passed a two-year moratorium on retail casino expansion, and Colorado requires a referendum, which probably means waiting for an election year.
However, there are 44 states without online casinos, and tiny chances add up. If you could name 20 that each have a 1% chance, collectively, they’re about as likely to produce a surprise as, say, Indiana on its own.
We’ve already covered the three states most people deem likely to legalize online casinos. Another state making the push seems like a stretch, mainly because sports betting is still a game of catch-up in many markets. States and legislators seem happy to test the online gambling waters with sports betting, and that trend should continue into 2023.
If another state does surprise us with a sudden push for online casinos, I think it’ll be Colorado. The state was an early adopter of sports betting in the western US. It could be time to expand and bring online casinos to the Rockies.
States can surprise us. The adoption of online sports betting happened at a rate faster than almost anyone could have forecast. That creates an environment where online casino should be, in theory, less scary for lawmakers across the country.
Still, casino expansion of any type can still be polarizing in statehouses. Other bills will crop up in 2023, and states might see that new revenue and creating a fully regulated online gambling regime as a net positive. Still, the odds of another state doing more than setting the stage for 2024 seem long to me.