2021 US Sports Betting Round-Up: Additions & Possible Newcomers

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When the Supreme Court struck down PASPA in 2018, it opened the door for every state in the country to legalize betting on sports— if the state wanted to. Some states were quick to act, others were not so quick, and a few have no interest at all.

But since 2018, 25 states have legalized some form of sports betting, either in-person, online, or both; sports betting has gone live in 20. Last year, Washington D.C. and five states took their first legal bets. 

Three states had voters give their government the green light to move forward with legalizing sports. Whether that is online or in-person remains to be seen. But if states want to maximize their revenue potential, online and mobile betting is the wave of the future.

Online Sports Betting In 2021

So far, only 15 states have launched online sports betting. Michigan became the latest when it launched on January 22, 2021, with ten sportsbooks going online.

Virginia launched online betting the day before. FanDuel was the first to launch but has already been followed by DraftKings, BetMGM and BetRivers.

Prior to Virginia and Michigan, the last state to launch online betting was Tennessee in November 2020. 

As for who is next, the obvious candidates are the five states that have voted to legalize sports betting but have yet to launch: Washington, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota.

But Maryland is the only one of the five to approve of both online and in-person betting. However, legislation still needs to be passed and a regulatory framework established.

Maryland sounds like the most promising state to launch online betting next. Technically, Washington could beat them to the punch. But in Washington, mobile betting will only be allowed while physically on the premises of one of the state’s tribal casinos.

Future US Sports Betting States

Of the states where sports betting is legal but has yet to launch online, it is hard to say if any of them will make a move this year (if ever):

  • It has been discussed in Arkansas, but there is no reason to think anything will change.
  • Delaware was the first to legalize sports betting following the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 but has shown no interest in allowing online betting.
  • New Mexico is not licensing online sportsbooks, but that could change if the Gaming Recovery Act proposed last year becomes law.

Technically, Mississippi and Montana have mobile betting, but only while bettors are present at a retail location.

With the outlook for online betting looking dim in many of the states where sports betting is legal, there is a good chance the next state(s) to launch online may be one that has yet to approve legislation. There are currently 12 states with legislation under consideration.

But many are only considering sports betting at retail locations. As for online betting, some of the more promising states include:

  • Connecticut: It has been under discussion for some time with several bills on the table. The hold-up seems to be the inability of the state and tribal groups to figure out how to do it. DraftKings’ recent partnership with the Foxwoods Resort and Casino may speed things along.
  • Massachusetts: The Bay State is another state where the problem does not seem to be whether they should legalize sports betting, but how. Last year, lawmakers tried to tie in a sports betting bill with Coronavirus relief. But other lawmakers favored making a separate bill altogether to approve sports betting. The interest seems to be there; it is just a matter of making it happen.
  • Kansas: A bill made it through the Kansas Senate last February but stalled when the pandemic hit. Whether it is revived or not, there does seem to be substantial interest in legalizing betting online and at retail locations.

There has also been renewed interest in New York since Governor Cuomo decided to reverse course and support online sports betting.

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.

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