Four States Expected to Launch Sports Betting By NFL Kickoff

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All eyes were on a New York mobile sports betting launch by NFL kickoff when the Big Apple legalized mobile sportsbooks in April. But that was before the state regulatory process started. Now a New York launch looks more likely in Jan. 2022, with a shot at December. 

What New York is experiencing is what all states that legalize sports betting come to know– the complicated mix of regulations that govern licensing and oversight of an industry that most states know little about. Once regulations are in place and licenses are issued, the fun will follow. And so will the revenue. 

Four of the eight states that enacted legislation this spring approving sports betting in some form have caught on to that concept.

While all eight — including New York — had mentioned Sept. 9 as a possible launch date, only these four are likely to hit the target. 

Arizona Sports Betting

Arizona is kind of making this sportsbook launch stuff look easy.

Just three months after legalizing sports betting, the Grand Canyon State on Monday began accepting applications for 20 sports betting licenses split between professional teams and/or promoters and tribal nations, plus another 10 “limited” sports betting licenses available to racetracks and OTBs. Sportsbooks statewide are scheduled to go live by Sept. 9.

That’s impressive – especially in a state like Arizona, where state law and a required amended tribal-state gaming compact work together to bring retail and mobile sportsbooks on line. After the (renegotiated) gaming compact was approved by the feds in late May, state regulators got to work drafting rules for event wagering:

  • There were two public comment periods on draft rules in June and public comment on a second set of draft rules in early July.
  • Final rules were posted on the Arizona Department of Gaming website this week, coinciding with the opening of the licensing application window on July 26. 

Vetting of initial applicants will end on Aug. 9. Then the ADG will have up to five days to evaluate applicants who qualify for licensure, with those entities announced on Aug. 16.

Additional time, if necessary, is scheduled to evaluate how licenses should be allocated without complicating the Sept. 9 launch. 

Connecticut Sports Betting

Connecticut is scheduled to launch retail and online sports betting on Sept. 6 after legalizing sports betting on May 15. A lottery-run sportsbook is also on the way.

What sports bettors in the Constitution State are waiting on is threefold. First, federal approval is still needed for Connecticut’s amended tribal-state gaming compact that will allow the state’s tribal casinos to launch sportsbooks through partners FanDuel and DraftKings. Second, Connecticut’s sports betting regulations have to be finalized. Third. the Connecticut Lottery needs to name its sportsbook partner. 

That may sound like a big ask for such a small state, but the targeted Sept. 6 launch for Connecticut sports betting has yet to budge. 

Wyoming

Wyoming state lawmakers made sure that state regulators will have online sports betting up and running by a target date of Sept. 1 when they put the launch date in statute

Now, with the application window for sports betting operators open since July 15, the Wyoming Gaming Commission is well-positioned to meet its statutory mandate. Sources say the commission is expected to issue licenses as soon as regulations are approved, “enabling sports betting operators to go ‘live’ almost immediately” thereafter. 

South Dakota

South Dakota’s regulations for casino-tethered retail and mobile sports betting out of Deadwood are pending state legislative approval, but state regulators won’t dally with licensing of sportsbook operators once approval comes.

The regulations will go into effect immediately after they receive legislative approval,  scheduled for Aug. 2. That will set regulators up to meet their goal of getting licenses issued ahead of a targeted Sept. 9 live date.

Other States To Watch 

Others to watch in the windup to NFL season are Maryland, Florida, and Louisiana — although only Maryland has any real potential to launch by early September. 

Florida is currently enmeshed in legal battles over its tribal gaming deal with the Seminole Indian Tribe. Louisiana, meanwhile, hasn’t confirmed a targeted launch date, nor has the Louisiana Gaming Control Board finalized necessary regulations. 

Another reason to watch Maryland sports betting is that upwards of 100 sports betting licenses — including 60 mobile licenses — are allowed under the Old Line State’s 2021 sports betting law. That should make at least a bit of a wait worth it. 

About the Author

Rebecca Hanchett

Rebecca Hanchett is a political writer based in Kentucky's Bluegrass region who covers legislative developments at Gaming Today. She worked as a public affairs specialist for 23 years at the Kentucky State Capitol. A University of Kentucky grad, she has been known to watch UK basketball from time to time.

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