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Legalization Tracker: The 3 States with a Chance to Legalize Sports Betting in 2020

Updated on May 29, 2020

It’s been nearly two years since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, allowing states to legalize it if they wish.

So where do we stand now? What states are in business, and how are they doing? What states are imminently coming online? And what states are on the back burner? We’ve compiled a comprehensive look at all 50 states (plus Washington D.C.), with projected legalization dates for every state.

To make this as simple as possible, there’s an interactive map below, and the text for each state is ordered by the projected year we expect them to come online. Two experts — Daniel Wallach, principal at Wallach Legal, the nation’s first law firm solely devoted to sports betting, and Jake Williams, vice president of legal and regulatory affairs for Sportradar — helped me with the projections and sub-categories for every state.

That’s enough of a preamble; let’s dive into the map and the full list. If you’d prefer to navigate directly to your state’s section, please click the links below.

[Check out the best online sportsbooks in Colorado, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana and West Virginia.]

Where Is Sports Betting Legal?

Ala. | Alaska | Ari. | Ark. | Calif. | Colo. | Conn. | Dela. | Fla. | Ga. | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Ind. | Iowa | Kan. | Kent. | La. | Maine | Mary. | Mass. | Mich. | Minn. | Miss. | Mo. | Mont. | Neb. | Nev. | N.H. | N.J. | N.M. | N.Y. | N.C | N.D. | Ohio | Okla. | Ore. | Penn. | R.I. | S.C. | S.D. | Tenn. | Texas | Utah | Ver. | Virginia | Wash. | Wash. D.C. | W.V. | Wisc. | Wyo.

LEGAL (22 TOTAL STATES + WASHINGTON D.C.)

  • Only physical sportsbooks (7)
  • Full mobile betting (6)
  • Partial mobile betting (5)
  • Recently legal; no betting yet (5)

Only physical sportsbooks

Legal sports betting in Arkansas officially launched on July 1, 2019, at Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort.

Voters approved a gaming expansion bill back in November, and Oaklawn was the first casino to be declared legal by the state. Expect more sportsbooks to launch ahead of football season.

Sports betting in Arkansas is all over-the-counter, meaning there’s no mobile wagering whatsoever. This spring, a bill popped up in the state legislature that would have legalized full mobile betting in the state, but it hit a snag with the inclusion of integrity fees for leagues.

Full mobile betting

Colorado became the 18th state to accept legal sports wagers on May 1, 2020. Its laws allow for full mobile betting, and it figures to be one of the most competitive markets for sportsbooks and one of the most consumer-friendly for bettors. DraftKings, FanDuel, BetRivers and BetMGM were the first to market on May 1, and several others big names — including SuperBook USA, Circa Sports and PointsBet, which is establishing a Western headquarters in Denver — have committed to launching operations in Colorado.

All of this comes after a referendum vote in November 2019 narrowly passed in Colorado (50.7% to 49.3%), propelling the state forward to capitalize on the sports betting boom. Sportsbooks will be subject to a 10% tax rate and a low $54,000 operating fee in 2020.

Only physical sportsbooks

Was the first legal state after the Supreme Court’s ruling, ahead of New Jersey, which brought the PASPA case to the forefront. But Delaware’s lack of mobile betting and its decision to have the lottery run the show have put it far behind New Jersey in terms of betting volume. Betting handle was $10.5 million in March 2019.

Only physical sportsbooks

It took an extended weekend session by the Illinois legislature in early June 2019, but the state surprised some by getting its sports betting bill to the finish line this year.

When Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law on June 28, many expected the state would be up and running in time for football, but that did not materialize, as the state ended up launching on March 9, 2020, just ahead of March Madness.

Illinois’ bill is unique in this it gives its brick-and-mortar operations — casinos, racetracks and sports venues — an 18-month head start over online-only operators like FanDuel and DraftKings. The licensed brick-and-mortar operations can offer mobile betting right away, but there’s a little more friction in the process, as in-person registration will be required for 18 months.

Under the bill, sports stadiums such as Wrigley Field (Cubs), the United Center (Bulls), Soldier Field (Bears) and Guaranteed Rate Field (White Sox) could apply to have betting kiosks.

Full mobile betting

Indiana’s sports betting bill was signed into law on May 8, 2019, and officially went live on Sept. 1. Mobile betting launched in the state on Oct. 3. By the end of 2019, FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers were all operating mobile apps within the state. In the first two full months after launching mobile betting, Indiana averaged a handle of $154.6 million per month.

Partial mobile betting

Iowa’s sports betting law was signed on May 13, 2019, and the state started accepting bets on Aug. 15. The one wrinkle with mobile betting: You have to register in person before being able to bet on your phone. That provision will remain in place until Jan. 1, 2021.

Only physical sportsbooks

On Dec. 11, 2019 a bill passed that legalized sports betting and fantasy sports, and nine days later, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed it into law. The legislation calls for full mobile wagering within the state.

Michigan launched in-person wagering at the MGM Grand Detroit just ahead of March Madness 2020 (March 11, to be exact). Mobile betting is expected to follow, but likely not until 2021.

Partial mobile betting

Mississippi, which legalized betting in 2018, has mobile wagering, but it’s very restrictive, only permitted while inside a casino.

Only physical sportsbooks

Montana officially legalized betting on May 3, 2019. The state lottery will oversee everything. Bettors will be able to place a wager inside licensed bars and restaurants via kiosks or on their phone, but mobile betting will not work outside of those bars and restaurants. The state initially wanted to get up and running for the start of the 2019 NFL season, but it took until March 2020 for Montana to get up and running.

Partial mobile betting

Nevada, the gold standard of in-person betting, still hasn’t quite mastered mobile wagering. It requires bettors to come into a casino to register in person before being able to place bets via the Internet.

Full mobile betting

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a sports betting bill into law on July 12, and mobile wagering will officially launch on Dec. 30 with DraftKings making a leap in the state. DraftKings will be the only mobile operator in the state besides the New Hampshire Lottery.

Retail sports betting will also be coming to the state, but not until a bit later. Six cities have approved retail locations, according to a report from the Union Leader: Berlin, Claremont, Franklin, Laconia, Manchester and Somersworth.

Full mobile betting

After New Jersey fought the NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB and NCAA for a decade, the Supreme Court in May of 2018 ruled that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional, and that N.J. and every other state could legalize sports betting at its discretion. New Jersey quickly legalized and is the most advanced state in its online sports betting offerings as of early 2020, bringing in more than $4.5 billion in bets in 2019. More than 80% of sports those wagers were placed online.

Only physical sportsbooks

No bill passed, but Native American tribes have interpreted that their sportsbooks are legal under their state tribal gaming compacts.

Only physical sportsbooks

The New York Gaming Commission voted on June 10, 2019, to allow in-person betting in four upstate casinos — Resorts World, Rivers Casino, Tioga Downs and Del Lago — located hundreds of miles away from New York City. Wagering officially launched on July 16, 2019. So while you can now legally bet in person at the four upstate casinos, bettors can hope that 2020 is the year mobile betting comes to the Empire State, though it’s far from a sure thing.

On Feb. 11, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow joined his counterpart in the Senate, Joseph Addabbo Jr., in advocating for the inclusion of mobile sports betting within the 2020 NY budget. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s lack of enthusiastic support for doing so is still an issue.

A study released in February 2020 estimated that New York is losing $200+ million in revenue by not legalizing online sports betting.

Recently legal; no betting yet

North Carolina wasn’t on our radar in the beginning of 2019, but a bill easily passed the Senate in April, and on July 15, the same bill passed the House with bipartisan support. It officially became law on July 26, when Gov. Roy Cooper graced the bill with his signature.

The legislation allows for legalized sports wagering in-person at two tribal casinos: Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, both of which are located in the western portion of the state, 3-4 hours away from Charlotte and 5-6 hours away from Raleigh.

While the bill does not permit any mobile wagering, the state is expected to launch a gaming commission to study the potential expansion of betting. Perhaps most important to the college-sports-crazed North Carolinians, the bill will allow for betting on college sports teams within the state.

Partial mobile betting

No bill passed, but Oregon was one of four states to be grandfathered into legal sports betting prior to the passage of PASPA and on Aug. 27, it became the 12th state to offer legal sports wagering.

The Chinook Winds Casino was the first book in the state to accept sports bets. Mobile betting, which is run by the Oregon Lottery, officially launched on Oct. 16 after multiple delays.

Full mobile betting

Mobile sports betting officially launched in Pennsylvania in May 2019, but the first wave of sportsbooks weren’t fully up and running until November. That didn’t keep PA from having a great start to legal sports betting, as the state took in nearly $1.5 billion in wagers last year, the third-largest amount in the country.

Partial mobile betting

Rhode Island has been offering legal sports betting since 2018. The state, which is the only one to allow people to bet at age 18, runs its mobile betting product through the lottery.

Recently legal; no betting yet

Gov. Bill Lee let a sports-betting bill become law without his signature in late May 2019. Tennessee will be the first legal state to offer online-only wagering, but it’s unclear on when that will occur. Rules still haven’t been written, but a draft of regulations sparked much debate, as the state proposed capping the amount a bettor could win at 85% of his/her original stake, far lower than industry standard. Such a rule would not only limit the number of operators interested in paying the $750,000 licensing fee, but it would also drastically impact the overall betting handle in the state.

Recently legal; no betting yet

Virginia became the 22nd state to legalize sports betting after the legislature passed a bill in April that met Gov. Ralph Northam’s specifications. A few details on the legislation: It allows for mobile and in-person betting. The state’s lottery is in charge of approving licenses for online-only operators. We could see up to 18 online sportsbooks, which is similar to the set up we’ve seen have success in New Jersey. And you will not be allowed to bet on Virginia college sports team under the bill. Betting regulations must be completed by Sept. 15 at the latest. While there’s still a lot to be hammered out, don’t be shocked if Virginia is up and running before the end of the year.

Recently legal; no betting

Washington has some of the least gambling-friendly laws in the country, but in early 2020, lawmakers in both the House and Senate successfully passed a bill that would legalize sports betting in the state’s tribal casinos. And on March 25, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law, making Washington the 21st state to officially legalize sports betting and the first to do so in 2020. The tribes lobbied for the bill, as it restricts mobile wagering to within their casinos. Bettors will not be allowed to wager on games involving in-state collegiate teams as part of this bill.

Recently legal; no betting yet

The D.C. Council approved a bill in December 2018 that would allow for sports betting. It officially became law in late March 2019. The plan was originally to have physical sportsbooks accepting bets by football season, but those efforts stalled amid controversy. Now, D.C. regulators say betting, including mobile wagering via the D.C. Lottery’s app, will be up and running by March 2020.

Full mobile betting

Mobile betting had some initial hiccups in West Virginia, but it’s been fully live since August 2019. A third mobile operator, BetMGM, joined incumbents FanDuel and DraftKings early in 2020. West Virginia took in $129.6 million in bets from September to December 2019.

PROJECTED 2020 (3 TOTAL STATES)

  • Under consideration by legislature (2)
  • On the November ballot (1)

On the November ballot

Maryland’s legislature officially passed a measure to put a referendum question on November’s ballot, giving voters the choice on whether to legalize sports betting in the state. The way the question on the ballot is written — “Do you favor the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and event betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?” — would appear to give the measure a good shot at passing.

If voters approve, Maryland lawmakers would have to then draw up more specifics on how sports betting will be implemented in the state. The Senate had included clear implementation measures in the bill it sent to the House, calling for mobile wagering and in-person betting at the state’s existing casinos and racetracks. But those specifics around implementation were stripped out of the bill by the House, saying they rewarded existing entities that lacked any diversity.

So if voters do officially legalize sports betting in November, it will likely take many more months for the state to start accepting bets. Set the over/under at the beginning of the 2021 NFL season.

Under consideration by legislature

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has long been pushing for legalized sports betting, and on Feb. 28, state lawmakers took the first step to pushing through a bill that would make in-person and online wagering legal. It still has a long way to go, but it’s an optimistic sign for Massachusetts, which legal expert Daniel Wallach predicted would turn legal in 2020. Wallach’s reasoning? The state “does not have any unique legal barriers such as tribal compacts or constitutional prohibitions.” With a current session that extends through July 31, and New Hampshire breathing down its neck, expect Massachusetts to get something done in 2020.

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12).

Under consideration by legislature

Ohio is surrounded by states that have legalized sports betting (or appear poised to do so in 2020), so it’s no surprise that state lawmakers are trying to advance legislation. The issue is that there are two different bills competing with each other — one in the House, the other in the Senate. Both bills call for mobile wagering but have key differences in the state agency tasked with regulating sports betting.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has previously said that he wants to legalize sports betting in the state, and he’s pushed the legislature to put a bill on his desk prior to November’s elections to avoid the possibility of a special interest group putting an initiative on the ballot.

Of course, all of this happened before the Coronavirus struck the state, so it’s unclear on how things will move forward in 2020. But DeWine’s motivation to get something done, plus a legislative session that lasts through the end of the year, give Ohio a few key things in its favor.

PROJECTED 2021 (15 TOTAL STATES)

  • Under consideration by legislature (10)
  • No movement (2)
  • On the November ballot (1)
  • Possible referendum required (1)
  • Governor vetoed bill (1)

Under consideration by legislature

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey hasn’t come out in stark opposition to legalized sports betting, which is a start, but nothing substantial is likely to happen anytime soon. Alabama requires that a law be approved by both the legislature and the voting public.

Under consideration by legislature

Lawmakers introduced another sports betting bill in early 2020, marking the second consecutive year of doing so. The legislation calls for the tribes to be permitted to offer sports betting within their 24 casinos in the state and would not allow for mobile betting within the state.

Under consideration by legislature

Legalization in California has two hurdles: It would likely require a change to the state constitution, and all gaming is controlled by tribes. On June 27, we got a surprise: California assemblyman Adam Gray and State Senator Bill Dodd introduced a sports betting bill. The legislation calls for a November 2020 ballot question, but would need two-thirds support from the legislature to be put on the ballot. And while 18 tribes said they would be interested in backing the measure, it still appears to be a longshot to happen in 2020, especially since one million signatures are needed for a ballot initiative and it’s hard to get signatures during a pandemic.

Under consideration by legislature

Connecticut is nearly surrounded by legal sports betting states, and while bills were introduced in 2019, tribal conflicts proved to be too tough to overcome. Connecticut lawmakers introduced more legislation 2020 that would’ve legalized mobile wagering and in-person betting, but the problem is that the tribes think they deserve the exclusive right to sports betting.

Under consideration by legislature

Things looked dead in Florida after voters approved Amendment 3 in 2019, which allows Florida residents to exclusively authorize casino gambling within the state. But sports betting legislation expert Daniel Wallach said that the amendment would not stop the legislature from authorizing sports gambling. The issue is that, in order to do anything, the state needs approval of the Seminole tribe and things are at a standstill.

Under consideration by legislature

Polls in Georgia say that voters are in favor of legalized sports betting. Executives from the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta United also came out in support of sports betting in late 2019. On Feb. 20, legislation was filed to allow online sports betting in the state. This proposed bill would NOT require a constitutional amendment, which has been a topic of much debate as the state discusses legalized wagering. Even with the recent developments, it’s far from certain Georgia will get legalized wagering any time soon. The state doesn’t have casino gaming of any kind.

Under consideration by legislature

Two different sports betting bills were under consideration by the Kansas legislature before the Coronavirus caused the session to be postponed until April 27. While the bills aren’t totally dead yet for 2020, it appears unlikely they’ll necessary floor time as lawmakers focus on the pandemic. It looks like 2021 at the earliest for legal sports betting in the state. Kansas had previously introduced a bill in 2019 that would have called for a steep tax rate and the required use of official league data.

Under consideration by legislature

A sports betting bill zoomed through a legislative committee in the Kentucky House in early 2020, but quickly hit a snag as Republican lawmakers called the issue “divisive,” as lobbyists successfully killed the bill, despite it appearing to have majority support in both chambers.

Kentucky will now have to wait until 2021, at least, for legal sports betting — and in odd years, the state requires bills to get 60% support for them to pass, an extra hurdle to clear that wasn’t present in 2020. The good news is that Gov. Andy Beshear is a big proponent of sports betting legalization.

Possible referendum required

The Louisiana legislature tried to get some steam behind a sports betting bill in May 2019, but the efforts failed in the House.

Not long after, though, the Senate passed a new bill on fantasy sports regulation, which also includes some language around sports betting, according to AP reporter Melinda Deslatte. That bill went no where. If/when a sports betting bill ever gets passed by lawmakers, each municipality in Louisiana will have to approve of it for wagering to become legal.

Governor vetoed bill

A bill zoomed through the House and Senate on June 19, 2019, as the legislative session neared its end. But Gov. Janet Mills opted not to sign it, and then vetoed it on Jan. 10, 2020 after the new legislative session opened.

In a last-ditch effort, the Senate overturned the veto, but the House was unable to do the same, killing the bill until at least 2021.

Maine’s bill would have allowed for full mobile betting throughout the state, and given operators the option to be online-only.

Under consideration by legislature

In March 2020, two separate sports betting bills cleared committee in the House and will now be heard on the House floor. Both of the proposed bills would allow for online and in-person wagering; the key difference between the two is their tax rate and whether they require the use of official league data. Missouri is attempting to keep up with neighboring Iowa and Illinois, which have legalized sports betting, and Kansas, which appeared poised to do so in 2020 before the Coronavirus struck. Now the odds are extremely unlikely that either Missouri or Kansas will make any moves in 2020.

No movement

Two separate sports betting bills died in the North Dakota legislature in 2019. It’s a longshot to see significant movement here in 2020.

On the November ballot

South Dakota is one step away legalizing sports betting after both the House and Senate passed a sports betting measure. Now it’s up to the state’s voters on whether South Dakota will have legal wagering. Two wild cards: Gov. Kristi Noem opposes sports betting expansion, and the tribes in the state will also have to get on board eventually.

No movement

Texas lawmakers introduced a sports betting bill in 2019, but it didn’t go anywhere. Texas lawmakers have shown a hesitancy to support any kind of casino expansion legislation, but when they reconvene in January 2021, Wallach thinks there’s a good chance something gets done. There are few barriers in the way, and there is such a love of sports in the state, Wallach reasoned.

Under consideration by legislature

Early in 2020, two Vermont State Senators — Michael Sirotkin and Dick Sears — filed a mobile-only sports betting bill in Vermont. The movement, unsurprisingly, comes on the heels of neighboring New Hampshire launching mobile sports betting at the end of 2019.

That’s quite a change from when PASPA was overturned, and the executive director of Vermont’s lottery said he didn’t know of a single person who wanted sports betting in the state.

Given the previous skepticism in the state surrounding sports betting — and Vermont’s lack of commercial gambling of any kind — we’ll be conservative with its projection and bump Vermont only up to 2021.

PROJECTED 2022 & BEYOND (10 TOTAL STATES)

    • No movement (7)
    • Tribal gaming conflicts (2)
    • Under consideration by legislature (1)

Alaska

No movement

Alaska is pretty much nowhere on sports gambling. The 49th state might actually be the 49th to legalize it.

Hawaii

No movement

Hawaii is one of just two states currently without gambling of any kind, so sports betting will not be coming to the state for the foreseeable future.

Idaho

No movement

State laws as written are currently against gambling, save for horse racing. State doesn’t allow fantasy.

Minnesota

Tribal gaming conflicts

The state’s 11 federally recognized tribes do not want expansion of gaming. That’s an issue.

Nebraska

Under consideration by legislature

Lawmakers in Nebraska have introduced three different bills, but they appear to be a longshot, especially considering the state turned down the right to expand casino gambling at its racetracks years ago.

Oklahoma

No movement

If anything is to happen, it has to go through the tribes. So while we’ve seen lawmakers express interest in raising sports betting legislation in the past, it will always be harder to get it to the finish line compared to states without tribes.

South Carolina

No movement

Several bills have been introduced in the past in South Carolina, but none have gained any traction. This appears to be a longshot to happen any time soon.

Utah

No movement

Sports betting is likely never coming to Utah.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Russell Wilson

Wisconsin

Tribal gaming conflicts

State’s constitution prohibits gambling. Tribes are said to want to keep the status quo.

Wyoming

No movement

There are only three licensed casinos in the entire state, and while multiple bills were proposed in February 2020, Wyoming isn’t on the short list of states to pass legalization anytime soon.

Source

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