Live In One Of These States? You May Get Legal Sports Betting Soon

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As sports betting approaches its one-year anniversary, there are many states getting close to opening their first sportsbook. It can be difficult to keep them straight, so here are five states that seem to have the best chance of launching a legal sportsbook this year.

Oregon

Estimated Chance of Sports Betting This Year: 90%

Oregon appears to be fast approaching a sports betting product launch in-state. The state lottery commission is putting the finishing touches on a deal with technology provider SBTech.

SBTech’s election as the state’s chosen partner has been forthcoming since lottery officials recommended shaking hands with the provider last month. The deal is moving forward despite complaints from rival Scientific Games.

Oregon may have little else to do in order to launch sports betting in the state. The state lottery has claimed that it has the authority to offer sports betting under existing law. So far, no relevant parties have challenged this claim.

It may simply be a matter of how long it takes SBTech to create an Oregon-facing sportsbook product. Based upon SBTech’s long history and experience in creating online sportsbook apps, a launch in 2019 is extremely likely.

North Carolina

Estimated Chance of Sports Betting This Year: 75%

North Carolina may seem like an unlikely choice moving toward legalized sports betting. But the state more famous for tobacco and college basketball is looking favorable to offer wagering on sporting events this year.

The North Carolina Senate passed S 154 on April 10, which would allow betting on sports and horse racing at North Carolina’s tribal casinos. The vote on the bill was not particularly contentious, with 42 of 49 state senators approving the bill.

The bill must now clear the North Carolina House of Representatives in order to proceed to Gov. Roy Cooper’s desk. Although passage in the House appears a more difficult task, a companion House bill has already attracted 24 sponsors.

Interestingly enough, the effect of the bill’s language is limited to just two casinos. The only casinos in North Carolina are Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel. Both casinos are tribal properties, and thus stand to benefit should S 154 go through.

The bill’s limited scope also contributed to its abbreviated length. Far from a bloated monstrosity of legislation, S 154 is a trim page and a half of lawmaking.

Mobile wagering, however, is not on the bill’s menu. The omission of online sports betting is a concession to the relevant tribal interests at the two casinos.

New York

Estimated Chance of Sports Betting This Year: 99%

New York is a remarkable study in contrasts. For every bit of positive momentum that land-based sports betting has, mobile sports betting has an equal amount of pushback.

First of all, it is almost certain that the four commercial casinos in New York will offer sports betting at some point this year. The New York State Gaming Commission has published rules for regulating the practice, and the rules are now under a mandatory 60-day public review.

Barring any sort of challenge, the finalization of the ruleset is the last legal or regulatory obstacle that retail sports betting faces in New York. It is, therefore, almost certain that these four properties will be accepting sports bets by the beginning of the NFL season (Sept. 5).

The four casinos in question are:

  • Tioga Downs
  • del Lago Resort & Casino
  • Rivers Casino and Resort
  • Resorts World Catskills

Meanwhile, mobile sports betting continues to be a nonstarter for multiple parties in the New York state government. The most recent state budget omitted mobile wagering from consideration, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the measure as written.

There is a slight chance that a standalone mobile bill would come before the legislature adjourns in June. However, the omission in the state budget indicates that mobile sports betting is not on the minds of many New York lawmakers, particularly in the Assembly.

Arkansas

Estimated Chance of Sports Betting This Year: 99.9%

For people who want a sure thing, Arkansas is the closest for the question of states that will debut sports betting in 2019. There are already advertisements in state casinos that a sportsbook is “coming soon.”

That particular bit of advertising is located at Southland Gaming & Racing in West Memphis, Arkansas.

How soon is “soon?” Well, according to the enacted law, regulators must begin accepting operator applications no later than June 2019.

So, a retail sportsbook launch in Arkansas is likely to occur sometime in the second half of 2019. At this point, the only real concern is the ongoing saga of Southland owners Delaware North and its troubled BetLucky brand.

The company’s West Virginia products are now shuttered thanks to a dispute with former software partner Miomni. It is unknown if the company’s troubles there will affect its Arkansas plans.

Arkansas may not be finished with its sports betting expansion this year, either. A Senate bill, SB – 669, seeks to empower regulators to allow mobile sports betting licensure. In addition, the bill calls for the opening of a brand-new retail sportsbook.

So, it’s clear that Arkansas has been bitten by the sports betting bug. It’s simply a matter of time before it shows up there.

Indiana

Estimated Chance of Sports Betting This Year: 50%

With the other states on this list, there is a better-than-average chance that we’ll see sports betting before the year 2020 arrives. For Indiana, that proposition is more of a coin flip.

The good news is that, at present, a sports betting bill is set for voting on the Indiana House of Representatives floor. The bill, S 552, already passed the Senate by a comfortable 38-11 margin.

The version going to the House floor is significantly different than its original incarnation in the Senate. House representatives have attached or attempted to attach many amendments in committee.

However, the bill is not in a finished state yet, despite its distance down the road. The most significant omission is the lack of a mobile sports betting component.

Mobile sports betting was involved in the committee discussions about this bill. However, key opponents like Rep. Ben Smaltz nixed the inclusion of the practice into S 552.

Another key omission is a mandate to use official league data. This provision also did not pass muster out of the House Ways and Means Committee.

With that said, though, if the bill does pass the House in its current form, it must return to the Senate for another vote before it can move to the governor’s desk. Therefore, debates over mobile sports betting and (possibly) official data may still be in the offing.

However, it’s impossible to argue that Indiana is knocking on the door to launch. One of the aforementioned amendments sets the launch date at Sept. 1. It’s possible things happen quite quickly in the Hoosier State this year.

Bart Shirley

About

Bart Shirley is a writer and poker player from Houston, Texas. Bart writes about the NJ online casino industry and US online poker. He has a master's degree in business administration from Texas Christian University and a degree in English from Texas A&M.

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