A Look At Where 7 States Stand On Sports Betting Legalization

It’s been more than two years since the United States Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The decision lifted a federal ban on sports betting and paved the way for states to legalize sports betting on a state-by-state basis. 

In the years following the PASPA ruling, almost two-dozen states have moved to legalize sports betting, and many are already live. 

That doesn’t mean every state is quickly hopping on the sports betting bandwagon, though. There are still a few markets playing catch-up and others that seem generally opposed to sports betting across the board. 

Covid-19 and related revenue losses have spurred some state lawmakers to quickly draft bills that would legalize online betting. Many believe sports betting can provide a meaningful spike in revenue, especially during a time when casino closures run rampant and the industry struggles to keep up. 

Below, we round up a selection of states that have yet to legalize sports betting and where they stand with their legislation. 

Vermont

In Vermont, progress toward legal sports betting is slow and steady. On June 12, 2020, the state senate approved a study committee to look into sports betting taxation and regulation possibilities. 

The bill, S.59, passed its second reading in Vermont’s senate. Next up is the state’s House of Representatives. One committee chair in the House indicated that the bill is a low priority item, so it could be some time before Vermont sees meaningful progress toward legalization. 

Maryland

Sports betting legislation in Maryland looks like a distinct possibility. State legislators pushed through a sports betting referendum in May 2020.

The move came at the perfect time; Maryland’s senate planned to adjourn due to Covid-19. Maryland only allows referendums on even-numbered years, and any change to The Free State’s gambling legislation requires a constitutional amendment to be approved by referendum. 

It may sound complicated, but put simply, this means that Maryland has a short timeframe to work with, and legislators pulled through to push their bill forward. 

Louisiana

Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed a bill that authorizes a Louisiana referendum to decide whether the state will allow sports betting. 

Louisiana’s parishes (similar to counties) will hold referendums and decide whether to move forward with sports betting. The vote will take place as part of the state’s November 3 election.

If approved, Louisiana’s legislators and gaming authorities would begin to roll out regulations and licensing processes in 2021. While there’s motion in the state, it could be well over a year before sportsbooks launch in Louisiana.

California

California recently seemed on the cusp of legislation, but new developments have stalled the state’s legalization effort until at least 2022.

The state’s SCA-6 bill aimed to amend California’s constitution and formalize a framework for legal sports betting. However, California’s Native American Tribes vigorous opposition to the measure, coupled with an inability for the state legislature to agree on certain points, doomed the bill this week.

Twenty-five California tribes voiced their disapproval of the bill. In response, State Senator Bill Dodd pulled SCA-6 from the legislature.

Florida

Florida state senator Jeff Brandes introduced a bill in December 2019 that would kickstart sports betting regulation in the Sunshine State. However, Florida’s gambling landscape is a bit complicated. The Seminole Tribe owns six of the state’s seven casinos. The other gambling properties in the state are racetracks that can also offer slots and poker. 

For sports betting legislation to pass, it will likely need to gain the approval of the Seminole Tribe, because they’re an influential organization in Florida. The state’s cardrooms and racetracks may hope for expansion opportunities in a sports betting bill. This could present a similar situation to California, where tribes have opposed recent sports betting measures while cardrooms have supported it. 

For now, Florida’s sports betting outlook is neutral, and it’s unlikely to move forward until legislators can find a solution that pleases the tribes, cardrooms, and the state government. 

Wyoming

March 2020 marked a pivotal point for Wyoming sports betting legislation. The state voted against a bill that would have legalized online sports betting. Following the bill’s failure, efforts have stalled. It’s unclear if Wyoming lawmakers will attempt to draft another bill to bring sports betting to the state. 

Texas

2019 brought a glimmer of hope for sports betting in the Lone Star State. Legislator Eddie Lucio III proposed a bill that would allow sports betting in the state. The bill did not move forward. 

Texas lawmakers generally oppose the expansion of gambling within the state. As a result, it’s unlikely Texans will see regulated sportsbooks any time soon. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based freelance writer in the gambling, media, and entertainment space. His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. Cole writes for a number of online and print publications, including The Quill To Live, a book review site.