How many states have legalized sports betting in 2019?
In 2018, the Supreme Court did away with the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, paving the way for each state to legalize and regulate sports wagering if they wanted to. Sports betting is now spreading rapidly across the US and there is definitely an appetite for it across the nation. A handful of states launched sports betting operations in 2018, and 2019 has seen even more states take steps to getting sports betting off the ground.
Montana was the first state to legalize sports betting this year, joining the likes of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and several other states that legalized the activity in 2018. Although legislators in the Treasure State approved two separate sports betting bills, Governor Steve Bullock only signed one into law. Bullock signed the Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2019 into law on 3 May. Under the law, the Montana Lottery will be responsible for rolling out land-based and mobile sports wagering, though it’s yet to announce a launch date.
Just days after Montana legalized betting, Indiana followed suit by authorizing sports wagering On 7 May. The Hoosier State’s new sports betting law allows residents and visitors to place bets on a variety of sporting events at land-based sportsbooks at casinos in the state and online via mobile apps. The Indiana Gaming Commission has been moving fast with sports betting and is expected to launch on 1 September, just in time for football season.
Iowa was the next state to legalize sports betting this year. On Monday 13 May, Governor Kim Reynolds signed a proposed sports betting bill into law. In fact, the Hawkeye State launched sports wagering operations in just 94 days after the signing of the sports betting law, making the Iowa the quickest state to launch the activity after legalizing it. Sports betting in Iowa officially launched on Thursday 15 August. The state’s sports betting market went live with eight land-based sportsbooks and one mobile betting app. Iowa was also the first state to launch land-based and online sports betting simultaneously.
Although it’s not a state, our Nation’s capital has moved to allow sports betting. Muriel Bowser, Mayor of DC, signed the sports betting legislation into law on 23 January. However, this didn’t legalize sports betting from the outset. Instead it triggered a 60-day review period, where the bill was sent to DC Council for consideration. The bill passed into law in May, allowing DC to make preparations for sports wagering. Sports betting will be run by the DC Lottery and wagering will be allowed at four sports stadiums in the district.
The entire process for getting sports betting off the ground has been mired in controversy. Earlier this year, the bill’s main sponsor was investigated for unethical practices. At the same time, the DC Council granted the lottery’s supplier contract to the Greek company Intralot without allowing a standard bidding process to take place. This effectively grants Intralot and the DC Lottery a monopoly over sports betting in DC. As a result of all this, no one is sure when sports betting will come to DC.
Tennessee certainly wasn’t on anyone’s radar when it came to sports betting, but, on 24 May 2019, the state’s proposed sports betting legislation became law. Surprisingly, the bill was not signed by Governor Bill Lee; instead he allowed it to pass into law without his signature. As the Volunteer State doesn’t have any casinos, residents will only be able to place bets online. A launch date has yet to be set, but state regulators are currently working toward launching sports betting.
After months of deliberation on a gambling expansion bill that included sports betting, Illinois Governor J.B Pritzker signed the bill into law on 28 June. In terms of sports wagering, the expansion package authorizes land-based, online and mobile sports betting. There is a lot of work that must be done before sports betting comes to the Prairie State, however. Illinois regulators must finalize sports betting rules and regulations and grant licenses to operators, data providers and suppliers.
New Hampshire became the sixth state to legalize sports wagering in 2019 when Governor Chris Sununu signed House Bill 480 into law on 12 July. The passage of this bill legalized land-based, online and mobile sports betting. However, the state regulator has yet to confirm launch date for sports betting. Once the Granite State gets sports betting off the ground it will become the second New England state to offer sports betting, following Rhode Island’s sports betting launch in late 2018.
North Carolina has legalized sports betting, but only on a small scale. On 26 July, Governor Roy Cooper signed the proposed sports betting bill SB 154 into law. Where this bill varies from others is that it only allows sports betting to take place at Native American-run casinos on tribal land. The bill allows the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to operate land-based sportsbooks at two casinos located in the Appalachian Mountains. The tribal group has yet to confirm a launch date for their sportsbooks.
So, at the time of writing, seven states, along with Washington DC have legalized sports wagering in 2019. Out of all of them, Iowa was the first to launch operations and Indiana will be the second when it launches sports betting in the first week of September. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on the regulatory front before the other jurisdictions can go live with sports wagering.
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