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US Sports Betting Legislation Updates in Four States


Sports betting legislation is in varying degrees of progress across several states, namely Wyoming, Louisiana, New York, and Virginia. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Varying degrees of success

Sports wagering legislation has seen significant updates with varying degrees of success across four US states over the past week.

A Wyoming sports betting bill has progressed through the Senate, moving the state within touching distance of a legal market. After the vote of 24-5-1 on Monday, HB 133 just requires final approvals by the House and governor.

Louisiana is all set to begin sports betting discussions courtesy of Senate President Patrick Page Cortez. He said he will propose a bill for mobile sports betting in the state once the next legislative session is underway.

In New York, the news is a little bleaker for sports betting fans. Although all signs pointed to a legal market in the state before year’s end, negotiations have broken down between Governor Andrew Cuomo and other lawmakers.

Finally, Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia has approved two bills to expand the state’s sports betting market. The legislation permits 12 more mobile sportsbook operators to apply for licenses.

Wyoming faces its final hurdles

The Wyoming Gaming Commission has set September 1 as the target launch date for the state’s sports betting market, after the Senate green-lighted HB 133 on March 29.

The bill will now return to the House for approval of the Senate’s minor amendments. After that, it will just require the signature of Governor Mark Gordon, who has previously expressed his support for the measure.

five online sportsbook licensees, each available at a cost of $100,000

The legislation itself will legalize online-only sports betting in Wyoming. It allows for five online sportsbook licensees, each available at a cost of $100,000. After five years, operators can renew their licenses for $50,000 annually.

The Wyoming Gaming Commission has estimated that a legal sports wagering market can generate $449m in the state each year. Betting operators will pay tax of 10% on gaming revenue.

Legalization up for debate in Louisiana

In November last year, residents of 55 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted in favor of legalizing sports betting. Now, it is down to the state’s legislators to decide the details of the new market. Most notably, the ballot question did not specify whether mobile betting would be included.

market could add $10m to $20m per year to state coffers

As reported by The Associated Press, Louisiana Senate President Page Cortez said he will propose a bill in the upcoming legislative session to include mobile wagering. Speaking last Wednesday, he estimated that such a market could add $10m to $20m per year to state coffers through taxes.

The Louisiana legislature will meet for two months from April 12 to June 10. With plenty still to discuss, state officials have said that the state won’t see legal sports betting until 2022.

New York proposals hit a brick wall

At the beginning of the year, hopes for mobile sports betting in New York State reached new heights. After years of opposing the idea, Governor Andrew Cuomo expressed a newfound support for a legal market. Now, days ahead of a vote on the final state budget, those hopes could be dead in the water.

The bottom line is we need to negotiate with the governor.”

Speaking on Monday, the main proponent for a legal market, Senator Joseph Addabbo, expressed frustration with a breakdown in discussions ahead of Wednesday’s vote. He said: “The bottom line is we need to negotiate with the governor,” adding: “We need to see what would be in the budget and the hours are diminishing.”

Addabbo has now described the chances of a mobile sports betting inclusion as 50/50. He also expressed opposition to proposing a separate bill if Cuomo does not include legalization in his proposal. In that case, it is likely that the state will not see a legal market until the following year at the earliest.

Virginia widens its doors

Virginia online sports betting launched in January this year. Current regulation only permits a maximum of 12 mobile sports wagering licensees, with operators tethered to the state’s five land-based casinos. Now, Governor Ralph Northam has signed two bills into law that will expand that market. 

The governor approved SB 1254 and HB 1874 on Thursday last week. The legislation allows 12 more operators to enter the market without any affiliation to a gaming venue in the state. Minority-owned companies will receive preferential treatment under these bills, enabling small business owners to open mobile sportsbooks. The legislation comes into effect on July 1.



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