This is the second of a five-part series leading up to May 14, 2023, the fifth anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which allowed states to pass their own sports betting laws.
Since the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) five years ago this week, over three-quarters of the states have legalized some form of sports betting.
This nationwide expansion shows no signs of slowing. Two more states — Kentucky and Vermont — have passed mobile sports betting bills during their legislative sessions this year. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed his state’s bill into law in March.
With Vermont Gov. Phil Scott expected to do the same, the Green Mountain State tops our list of five states where sports betting laws are likely to be enacted, some with more immediacy and optimism than others.
Vermont is on the precipice of legalizing online sports gaming, pending approval by the Governor. Representative Matthew Birong’s (D, District 3) H 127 passed the Vermont Senate on a third reading last week. An amended version was sent back to the House, which confirmed the bill Tuesday. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Scott, who is expected to sign it into law.
Windsor Sen. Alison Clarkson said the bill “captures lost revenue which would otherwise go to other states or offshore criminal organizations [and] moves sports wagering from the dangerous illicit market to a safe legal and regulated market.”
The bill legalizes online sports betting, allowing anywhere from two to six apps, depending on revenue-sharing negotiations between potential operators and the Department of Liquor and Lottery. Lawmakers indicated they expect two or three.
Vermont residents should expect legal gaming no later than Jan. 1, 2024, as the state becomes the last in the Northeast to legalize.
Missouri looked to be a front-runner in mobile gaming legislation early this year but is now running up against the clock. With the legislative session ending Friday, state lawmakers are making a late run at legalization.
The latest effort, an amendment to a state tax credits bill (SB 92), is similar to Representative Dan Houx’s (R, District 54) HB 556, which passed the House on March 22 by a vote of 118-35. That bill became stuck in the Senate Appropriations Committee with no vote in sight.
The decisive issue is legalization of some 20,000 now-unregulated video slot machines at truck stops and other locations statewide. Attempts to pass a straight sports betting bill that leaves out video slots regulation have failed the past two years, largely due to a vocal group of senators led by Senator Denny Hoskins (R, District 21).
Hoskins sponsors SB 92 and still isn’t sold on sports betting.
“They may have loved it to death,” he said.
Hoskins has several concerns with the House additions to the bill and wants it to go to conference before coming back for another Senate vote.
Representative Zack Stephenson (D, District 35) introduced HF 2000 to the Minnesota House, which would provide the state’s tribal casinos exclusive rights to 11 licenses for both retail and mobile sports wagering.
The proposed bill has passed through the House Commerce, Finance, and Policy Committee, the House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee, and the Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee. It is pending before the House State and Local Government Finance and Policy Committee.
Rep. Stephenson’s bill to legalize mobile sports betting in Minnesota is similar to one he proposed last year, which passed the Democratic-controlled House before stalling in the then-Republican majority Senate. Governing Democrats now control both legislative chambers, although by a slim Senate margin.
A Senate companion bill SF1949, was amended last week by its sponsor, Senator Matt Klein (D, District 53). Sen. Klein’s amendment cuts the state’s racetracks into mobile gaming profits, a move intended to win over Senate Republicans.
The amended Senate bill still has the support of Minnesota tribes. Tribal support has long been a sticking point for mobile gambling in Minnesota. Senator Jeremy Miller (R, District 26) previously announced his intention to propose gambling legislation that does not provide for tribal exclusivity, but nothing has been forthcoming.
Sports betting discussions, though, have continued at the Minnesota state house this week.
The North Carolina House approved a mobile sports gambling bill in late March. HB 347, sponsored Rep. Jason Saine (R, District 97), passed the House by a wide margin on a vote of 64-45.
The bill is now before the Committee on Rules and Operations in the North Carolina Senate. Although there has been no recent movement, lawmakers believe it will be brought up for a reading once other pressing matters are dealt with during a busy legislative session.
The current session lasts until August 31, so there is still plenty of time to pass mobile sports betting in North Carolina before the session ends.
Texas mobile sports betting would have been the biggest news to come out of the 2023 legislative session. However, as in Missouri, current legislative action appears to have stalled.
Two Texas bills to legalize sports betting advanced through the Texas House Committee on State Affairs by a 9-3 in early April, but there has been little progress since.
The House State Affairs Committee approved HB1942 and HJR102, both of which had been pending since their March 22 hearing. HB1942 would legalize mobile sports betting in Texas, while HJR155 would establish brick-and-mortar casinos.
Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has repeatedly stated that the Senate has “zero support” for either legislative proposal.
Rep. Patrick told The Mark Davis Show that “our members have been clear: they’re not in support today. We don’t have any votes in the Senate. Couldn’t find one Senator who supported it.”
There is still optimism for future Texas mobile sports betting. There is considerable interest in the topic among Texas democrats, and local professional sports teams and sports businesses have advocated for sports betting in Texas.
Although conservative and religious groups are the biggest opponents, Texas’ demographics are changing rapidly. Pair that with the fact that Texas has a little under 10% of the U.S. population, which means, theoretically, it could capture about $15 billion of the estimated $150 billion U.S. gambling market if legalized, and Texas is worthy of top-five discussion.