It took five months to get the legislative ball rolling in 2019, but in May alone, four states successfully legalized and regulated sports betting.
Last May, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling to repeal the 26-year old federal law which previously banned single-game sports betting in every state but Nevada. When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was struck down, individual states were given the go-ahead to regulate sports betting as they see fit.
Throughout the rest of 2018, seven states – Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island – capitalized on the new post-PASPA era by launching legal sportsbooks.
Of the seven, only Delaware and New Mexico limit wagering to land-based venues, with the other five states including online/mobile sportsbooks in their respective laws.
Montana and Indiana Start May’s Surge
The action began back on May 3rd, when Governor Steve Bullock of Montana signed House Bill 725 into law.
Under HB-725, which will be implemented this year, the Big Sky State’s 10 licensed casinos will be eligible to offer land-based and online/mobile sportsbooks. Over 100 venues including taverns and restaurants – which are already allowed to operate casino gaming via video gaming terminal (VGT) – an also apply to install self-service sports betting kiosks.
The bill’s sponsor, state representative Ryan Lynch (D-76), told local media outlets that joining the list of jurisdictions with legal sports betting is cause for celebration:
“It’s a good day for Montana to be able to see sports betting in the marketplace.
I think Montanans will enjoy the new aspect of watching sports for entertainment as well as betting on it.”
Montana’s sports betting law is unique in that it allows for only a single operator. Greek gaming firm Intralot, which has serviced the Montana State Lottery since 2015, received an exclusive seven-year bookmaker license.
Next up was Indiana, where Governor Eric Holcomb put pen to paper on May 8th to make House Bill 1015 law in the Hoosier State.
Lawmakers there looked to mimic New Jersey’s thriving industry when building HB-105.
Both states charge prospective operators – 14 licensed casinos and two horseracing tracks in Indiana – licensing fees of $100,000. And Indiana’s tax rate of 9.5 percent on gross gaming revenue straddles the 8.5 percent and 13 percent rates applied to retail and online/mobile wagering, respectively, in the Garden State.
In a statement issued after his signature made things official, Holcomb hyped the potential to match job creation and tax revenue levels currently enjoyed by New Jersey:
“Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology.
By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers.
Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction.”
Iowa and Tennessee Make it 4/4 on the Month
When Governor Kim Reynolds of Iowa signed Senate File 617 on May 13th, she became the third state leader to legalize sports betting in a 10-day stretch.
With sportsbooks finally entering the Midwest thanks to Indiana – and neighboring Illinois currently debating the issue – lawmakers in Iowa took only six days to debate, pass, and send SF-617 to Reynolds.
Sports betting in Iowa will be made available by land-based and online/mobile operators.
Reynold’s spokesman Pat Garrett provided the following statement in a letter sent to local media outlets:
“Gov. Reynolds believes that legalizing sports betting will bring this practice out of an unregulated black market.
This law will regulate, tax, and police sports betting in a safe and responsible way.”
Tennessee was the fourth state with a recently passed sports betting bill under consideration by the Governor, but hardline anti-gambling conservative Bill Lee wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the prospects.
As the executive in one of just nine states with no commercial or tribal casinos, Lee wanted to keep it that way. He directed lawmakers to amend Senate Bill 16 by stripping a provision which would’ve allowed up to 50 physical betting locations.
Lee later tweeted a statement explaining his choice to sign the nation’s first online-only sports betting law:
“I do not believe the expansion of gambling through online sports betting is in the best interest of our state, but I appreciate the General Assembly’s efforts to remove brick and mortar establishments.
This bill ultimately did not pursue casinos, the most harmful form of gambling, which I believe prey on poverty and encourage criminal activity.
Compromise is a central part of governing, but I remain philosophically opposed to gambling and will not be lending my signature to support this cause.”