More than a year has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door to legal sports betting, and while states haven’t rushed headlong through the opening, betting options are expanding rapidly.
Sports books are up and running in 10 states. Six more states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws to permit sports betting and are waiting for gaming boards and commissions to finalize regulations and grant licenses or, in the case of Illinois, for the arrival of 2020, when the legislation takes effect.
In many states, that includes mobile wagering. It also includes some non-traditional venues. When Illinois law takes effect next year, it will enable sports wagering not onlyh at casinos and racetracks, but at ballparks and stadiums. There also have been rumblings about amending New York’s law to allow wagering at sports venues.
Major sports leagues have long been opposed to legal sports wagering, but if it’s going to be legal, extra revenue has a powerful allure.
That’s big leap from the situation before May 2018, when the Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which prohibited legalization of sports betting in any state that did not already have it.
Until then, full-scale sports books were legal only in Nevada. Limited forms of sports betting were legal in Delaware, Montana and through the Oregon lottery.
When the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, ruling that it discriminated among states, it did not automatically legalize sports betting. States could choose to legalize or not.
The first to legalize was New Jersey, in a reversal of its stand way back in 1992. When PASPA was enacted, it gave New Jersey a one-year grace period in which it could legalize sports books at Atlantic City casinos.
The year passed with no legislation, but with changing times, conditions and increased competition for gaming revenue from casinos in neighboring states, it was New Jersey that filed the court challenge for PASPA.
Mississippi followed quickly, and so did Delaware, which expanded its minimal legal sports wagering to full-service books.
Today, you also can place legal sports bets in West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Arkansas and New York.
In addition, the following states and district had legalized sports betting and were awaiting either approval of regulations and / or licenses by state gaming boards or an effective date for their enabling acts: Montana (expected to go live by the end of 2019); Washington D.C. (legal as of May 2019, opening not yet announced); Indiana (expected to go live by the end of 2019); Iowa (legal as of May 2019, awaiting gaming commission licensing); Tennessee (legal effective July 2019, awaiting activation); Illinois (legal starting Jan. 1, 2020); New Hampshire (legal as of July 2019, awaiting activation).
Just as rules and regulations vary by state for casino games, states differ on sports betting conditions. Wagering online or via in-state mobile devices was approved in most states, but not Arkansas or New York, and put off for later consideration in Mississippi. The legal age for sports betting is 21 in most states, but 18 in New Hampshire.
New Mexico prohibited wagering on college games involving the University of New Mexico or New Mexico State. Illinois went a step further and banned not only wagering on in-state college games, but on minor-league professional teams in the state.
No doubt more states will follow. The closest so far has been Maine, with a bill that passed the legislature but was vetoed by the governor. But enough already onboard that placing a legal sports bet within U.S. borders is no longer reserved for trips to Nevada.
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