Besides the 36 gubernatorial races decided on Tuesday, the Nov. 6 elections will have an impact on the future of sports betting in some states. Several key lawmakers in states actively considering legalizing sports betting lost their seats or were term-limited out, while others retained their posts and may see their influence elevate.
In Indiana, two key legislators, Ben Smaltz, whose Public Policy Committee held an intensive hearing on sports betting last month, hasn’t filed legislation, but could be a key drive. So could Ron Alting, Smaltz’s Senate counterpart. Both held off Democratic challengers to retain their seats.
In Kentucky, Adam Koenig, who retained his seat with 55 percent of the vote, hasn’t filed a bill yet, but hosted a comprehensive hearinghttps://sportshandle.com/ky-lawmakers-closing-in-on-sports-betting-bill-to-pass-in-19-hone-in-on-final-key-issues/ in October and appears to have taken the point on sports betting in the Bluegrass State. And in Massachusetts, chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies Joe Wagner, who ran unopposed, is carrying the torch.
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) are coming to the Bayou State after residents in most of the state’s 64 parishes voted in favor of a ballot initiative to allow residents of those parishes to play in online DFS contests.
According to the Times-Picayune, 47 of Louisiana’s 64 parishes voted in favor of legalizing online DFS contests, with most of those against it located in north Louisiana, while most parishes in the Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Lafayette areas voted in favor. DFS will be available only to those within the parishes that voted in favor — not statewide.
Because the Louisiana state constitution prohibits gambling, the legislation sponsored by state representative Kirk Talbot’s (R-River Ridge), which triggered the ballot initiative read, “participation in any fantasy sports contest … shall not be considered gambling.”
Arkansas voters on Tuesday legalized sports betting on the only mid-term election ballot initiative in the country dealing with sports betting. Issue 4, a ballot measure that amends the state constitution to allow sports betting, has passed.
As of 7 a.m. Wednesday, with 99 percent of votes counted, 54.1 percent of over 860,000 voters had checked “yes” and 45.9 percent “no” to authorizing casinos in four counties that may include sports wagering among their offerings to patrons.
Arkansas became the second state in its region to legalize sports betting after Mississippi did so last summer. None of its other border states offer legal sports betting, though Oklahoma, Missouri and Louisiana all have commercial or tribal casinos. Arkansas is the seventh state outside of Nevada to legalize sports betting behind Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.
After hearing from a bevy of sports betting professionals, major professional leagues, players’ associations, and those opposed to sports betting, Illinois lawmakers continue slow and steady on their approach to legal sports wagering. While the state legislature has been considering different types of gaming for more than a decade, it has been slow to act. And it appears things will be no different when it comes to sports betting.
Illinois currently has 10 casinos and three active racetracks, and there has been discussion in the state legislature about approving additional venues, particularly in the city of Chicago. But politics and procedural questions have long slowed the process. Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28) organized and held two hearings on sports betting, the most recent in the state capitol of Springfield on Oct. 17. In the final analysis, the hearing may have provided more questions than answers:
What will the tax rate be?;
What will the mobile/internet component look like?;
Will there be any kind of payout to the professional leagues? The players’ associations?;
Where will the state’s cut of sports betting revenue go?; and
Whose bill will make it to a vote?
Sports Betting Hearings Left IL Lawmakers With More Questions Than Answers, So Don’t Expect a Bill to Be Filed Until 2019.
Rita said last week that he doesn’t expect sports betting to come before the Illinois general assembly until the new session begins in late January. The state does have a two-week “veto session” around Thanksgiving, but it’s highly unlikely that any legislation will be far enough through the pipeline to be considered at that point. There’s multiple sports betting bills floating around the general assembly, some to do with sports betting, others to do with daily fantasy sports and still others to do with iGaming. But none, according to Rita, address all the relevant issues, and none have made it to a full vote.
Sports wagering for Minnesotans should be on the way, but won’t happen unless local residents get behind the effort to make it happen, according to State Rep. Pat Garafolo (R), the seven-term legislator and avid sports bettor who’s currently leading efforts to get a bill before the state legislature when it reconvenes in January.
However, as he told the locally based Great Time Podcast with John Kriesel, just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Garafolo said he’s optimistic that the various gaming interests in the state, tribal gaming, charitable gaming and others will reach common ground on the issue.
“We need flexible legislation that works for everyone,” said Garafolo, who represents District 58B, which includes portions southeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area in Dakota and Goodhue counties. “We have to have a low-tax, low-fee environment. We just can’t go in and tax the snot out of this industry. The illegal sports betting market is very robust, so we have to have the right kind of regulations to compete with that.”umber of sub-issues (including betting on local college teams) that needs to be resolved with gambling stakeholders in the state.
If in-state LSU fans want to legally bet on the home team as a double-digit home underdog to No. 1-ranked Alabama on Nov. 3rd, they’ll most likely drive to Mississippi to do it. Or wager offshore.
Meanwhile, Louisiana officials continue to discuss legislation that would allow local residents to join their Mississippi neighbors in legal sports betting.
On Wednesday, State Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, told a state Senate Judiciary Committee he would again introduce a sports betting bill, however, he expects other legislators will do the same. Martiny tried last spring to begin the process of legalizing sports betting but lawmakers failed to act and the bill died in committee, never getting to the full State Senate for a vote.
As states across the country are discussing legal sports betting, there has been much ado about sportsbooks operating on thin margins, which is news to a lot of lawmakers. By most accounts, a sportsbook earns between $1-$2 in net revenue from every $100 bet after all the money is divvied up. So where does the money go?
Much of it goes back to the winning bettors and there are the obvious expenses — paying employees, buying software and equipment, purchasing or renting space. And then there are taxes. The seven states that have legalized sports betting so far* apply wildly different tax rates on gross sports wagering revenue, from 6.75 percent in Nevada to more than 50 percent in Rhode Island.
Indiana on Friday became the latest state to hold a sports betting hearing, when lawmakers heard from various corners of the industry — a technology provider, the NBA, an anti-gambling group and small business owner Patrick Doerflein, who owns an app called “Burn and Bet,” referred to himself as a “hillbilly guy from Brown County” and asked legislators not to over regulate.
While the session had moments of levity, it was a very different sort of hearing in Illinois on Wednesday. Indiana state lawmakers put forth several sports betting bills in 2018 and the Gaming Commission signed on with a market analysis firm, but Hoosier State legislators on the Interim Joint Public Policy Committee still appeared to be in the early learning stages of learning about sports wagering.
One lawmaker asked if a technology professional had said “toad system” when he was referring to a “tote system,” and another asked NBA executive Dan Spillane if any states that have legalized sports betting passed a law granting the league an “integrity fee.” (None have.) This was in stark contrast to contract with gaming entities independently?”
Hearings on Wednesday in Illinois and Washington, D.C. that focused on sports betting brought together various lawmakers, stakeholders and players’ associations representatives — but not a National Football League representative in the flesh.
Jack Evans, Chairman of the D.C. Council’s Finance & Revenue Committee who led the Council hearing, asked aloud why the NFL has largely been absent from the public conversation on legal sports wagering. “That’s the largest gambling area — in football,” Evans noted, before the NBA’s Dan Spillane advised that an NFL official actually had appeared at a Congressional hearing in September.
At that House of Representatives committee hearing, the NFL’s Jocelyn Moore, Executive Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs stated that, “Since the Supreme Court decision, state governments are rushing to promote sports betting — and we are witnessing a regulatory race to the bottom.”
If anything became clear from Wednesday’s Joint Committee on Revenue in Finance in Illinois it was this: Illinois lawmakers are eager to pass a bill legalizing sports wagering in Illinois. The question — or questions — are what the bill will look like. During the four-plus hour hearing in Springfield, lawmakers heard from gaming stakeholders, representatives from individual cities and towns, pro sports players’ associations, Major League Baseball and the Chicago White Sox, various horsemen’s groups and racetracks and those opposed to sports betting.
Questions from the bi-partisan panel of lawmakers almost exclusively focused on details, suggesting that many had already made the decision that legal sports betting is right for Illinois. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to legalizing sports betting, there are many, many, many details.
The hearing was put together by Representative Bob Rita (D-District 28) and was the second of two in the last few months. Rita introduced SB 7 in 2017, and the bill has gone through multiple iterations and evolved into a comprehensive bill that contemplates online gaming and daily fantasy sports as well.