Sports betting is legal in 22 states and Washington D.C. as the end of 2020 approaches. Three more states will put sports betting legalization in the hands of state voters this November.
Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota all have referendums on the ballot for the upcoming 2020 Election Day. The three states have taken very different paths to arrive at the November public vote.
A “yes” vote for all three would create a US landscape with half of all states offering legal sports betting. Here’s a look at how these referendums shape up in each state.
Louisiana voters arrive at the November vote in another chapter of a long and complicated effort to try to legalize sports betting and daily fantasy sports.
A pair of bills outlining a framework for Louisiana sports betting passed through the state senate in May, with Gov. John Bel Edwards singing off on the legislation in June. Edwards’ signature authorizes the bills to appear on Louisiana’s November ballot.
The origins of Louisiana’s sports betting measures go back to 2018, but it’s taken more than two years for state lawmakers to finally put the bill to a vote.
The current bills would legalize land-based sports betting at Louisiana’s casinos and racetracks, as well as on-site mobile sports, betting. Statewide online sports betting is not included as part of the measures going to vote, SB 130 and SB 378.
Sports Betting Could Face Post-Vote Complications in Louisiana
Louisiana laws dictate that each of the state’s 64 parishes can individually vote on sports betting, which could lead to a situation where wagering is only legal in parts of the state.
A 2018 vote on daily fantasy sports got a yes from 47 of the 64 parishes. State lawmakers have not been able to finalize a vote on tax rates, however, and DFS sits in limbo in the Pelican State.
Sports betting, even if legalized, could face a similar uphill battle before its actually implemented in Louisiana.
The sports betting measure on the Maryland ballot doesn’t outline a framework for sports betting. The referendum simply asks for a yes or no from state voters on whether sports betting should be legalized.
The lack of specifics for Maryland’s sports betting bill stems from complications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In March, the state senate approved a sports betting measure, SB 4, by a 47-0 vote.
SB 4 outlined a plan that would legalize retail and online sports betting, with revenue taxed at 20%. The next step in the approval process required SB 4 to go to the House of Delegates, then to Gov. Ralph Norman’s desk for a signature, before finally going to a vote in November.
Pandemic Forced Sports Betting Bill Revision
COVID-19 prevented the House from convening for the vote, however. In wake of the pandemic, both state chambers agreed to pass a modified version of the sports betting bill through to voters.
The truncated bill contains no language on regulations, tax rates, or where sports betting would legally be permitted.
Maryland voters are only voting on sports betting legalization, and if passed the specifics will be decided at a later date. The wording on the measure asks for a vote on whether “to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.”
Both DraftKings and FanDuel are funding a PR effort in Maryland, in hopes of getting the sports betting bill approved by voters.
South Dakota voters will decide this November if sports betting will be added to games offered at Deadwood casinos. Deadwood is the only jurisdiction where legal casino gaming is allowed in South Dakota.
Like the Maryland referendum, the South Dakota sports betting bill doesn’t include specifics on tax rates or regulations. State lawmakers originally voted against putting the measure on the ballot.
The Deadwood Gaming Association came up with a petition, however, with enough required signatures to put the issue to a vote. If approved, all of the city’s tribal casinos would be permitted to offer retail sports betting.