Rhode Island lawmakers were counting on an immediate windfall of revenue from sports betting when they legalized sports wagering in June. But five months later, neither of the state’s two commercial casinos have opened their sportsbooks, and the projected opening date of Oct. 1 has come and gone.
Why? Testing of software is still ongoing, and negotiations between the state’s two casinos and William Hill and IGT, who will operate the sportsbooks, is taking longer than expected, according to Rhode Island Department of Revenue chief of information and public relations Paul Grimaldi.
“Our expectation is for sports betting to begin around Thanksgiving. I cannot give you a specific date today as it is dependent on the completion of testing of the IGT/William Hill sports betting software,” Grimaldi told Sports Handle in an e-mail Tuesday. “They released the software to the Division of Lottery on Nov. 5 We expect two weeks +/- for completion of the testing. The sportsbook will start taking bets once the software is certified.”
One day after the mid-term elections, Tennessee state Representative Rick Staples (D-District 15) filed the state’s first piece of sports betting legislation ahead of the 2019 session, which begins Jan. 8. The bill, HB 0001, while an initial effort, covers many of the key points needed for meaningful legislation.
The “Tennessee Sports Gaming Act,” filed on Nov. 7, calls for legal sports betting “only in jurisdictions that approve sports betting by local option election.” This language seems to infer that legal sports betting would be brought to Tennessee voters and could potentially be approved on a county-by-county basis. In a similar situation in Louisiana, voters in some parishes approved daily fantasy sports, while voters in other did not.
The Tennessee bill calls for a 10 percent tax on a licensee’s adjusted gross income. Nevada’s 6.75 tax on gross sports betting revenue is the lowest of all states with legal sports betting while new sports betting jurisdictions in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island impose rates of 34 percent or higher. The bill would set the licensing fee at $7,500.
Kentucky Senator Julian Carroll (D-District 7) refiled an updated version of his sports betting bill on Friday. The bill, which would create the independent Kentucky Gaming Commission, calls for a 25 percent tax on net sports betting revenue as well as allowing the Kentucky Lottery Association and existing horse racing associations to be granted licenses. Any other interested venues may also apply.
The tax rate applies to commercial sportsbooks and vendors, but not the Lottery Association’s license. And the bill would give all the regulatory power, including, it appears, determining what types of events could be bet on and whether mobile/online wagering is permitted, to the new Kentucky Gaming Commission. Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of any sort of fee or royalty benefiting professional sports leagues.
Kentucky lawmakers and stakeholders have had a busy few months studying sports betting, and it’s likely the state will be among the first to seriously consider legalizing sports betting in 2019. Carroll’s bill is likely just one of several that will be filed and considered when the state legislature goes back into session. Carroll, a former Kentucky governor, is a member of the state’s “working group” on sports betting.
For novice sports bettors who want to dip their toes in the gaming pool, but don’t have a good understanding of odds, moneylines or spreads, DraftKings has a new product that essentially dumbs down sports betting to the office-pool level.
The Boston-based company rolled out the new product on Thursday, the company’s “DraftKings Sportsbook Pools,” a simplified way to bet that mimics those NCAA office pools that blanket the nation in March. The product was made available to New Jersey bettors this morning. According to a company press release, the Sportsbook Pools games will allow less experienced bettors an opportunity to play without having to understand the intricacies of sports betting.
“Millions of Americans have been playing in sports pools for years with their friends and coworkers, and now one of the most popular ways that fans can get ‘skin in the game’ is live on DraftKings Sportsbook,” said Matt Kalish, Chief Revenue Officer and co-founder of DraftKings. “DraftKings Sportsbook Pools features simple predictions, such as picking the winner of each NFL game weekly, combined with the potential to win jackpot-style prizes.”
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.
Voters in six states will decide issues related to gaming during the mid-term elections on Tuesday, but only two will consider measures directly related to sports betting and daily fantasy sports. Arkansans will have the opportunity to issue casino licenses to four casinos across the state, and those casinos could then offer gaming, including sports betting.
In Louisiana, voters will decide whether or not to legalize daily fantasy sports games, but the Louisiana state constitution requires that this decision be made on a parish-by-parish basis. In the end, some Louisiana parishes could vote to make daily fantasy games legal while others could vote against it.
If approved, Arkansas’ Issue 4 would authorize casinos in Crittenden, Garland, Pope, and Jefferson counties. Two of the licenses would automatically be granted to Southland Racing Corporation and Oaklawn Jockey Club. For the other two licenses, applicants in Pope and Jefferson counties would have to apply and prove their experience in casino gaming.
The New Mexico Lottery Board on Tuesday voted to approve a game linked with the outcome of sporting events, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The game will mark the second venture for an entity in New Mexico to offer sports betting after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May. Just last month, the tribal-owned Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel, with USBookmaking as its operator, launched a sportsbook.
Though details of the new lottery game were not made public, it’s likely it will involve parlay wagering, similar to Delaware’s sports lottery. In such a game, players must select the winners of at least three sports events and select each one correctly in order to win.
The driving force behind developing a sports-related lottery game is to generate more money for education, which the lottery funds. Lottery CEO David Barden told the Santa Fe New Mexican that the new game could produce $30 million a year, with $9 million to be directed to the lottery’s college tuition assistance program.
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.
At its Oct. 3 meeting, the board approved sports betting licenses for Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing, LLC, operator of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Track, and Greenwood Gaming, operator of the Parx Casino and South Philadelphia Turf Club.
On Wednesday, it will consider applications from Chester Downs and Marina, LLC (Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack), Holdings Acquisitions Co., LP (Rivers Casino) and SugarHouse HSAP Gaming, LP (SugarHouse Casino). Pennsylvania has 13 sports betting certificates available — one for each licensed casino in the state — and to date, five have been claimed or applied for and eight remain. The application fee is $10 million and gross sports betting revenue is subject to a 36 percent tax (34 percent state, 2 percent local).
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