While more than half the states in the United States have legal mobile sportsbooks operational (or are in the process of making that happen, waiting for relevant regulations to be drafted or take effect), the battle is not yet won in the push for sports betting legalization across the country.
More dominos have continued to fall in 2023, with mobile sportsbooks in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts going live in early March, just days ahead of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The news cycle picks up in earnest each time sportsbooks begin operation in a new state: with a flurry of promotions offered at various Online Casino Sites helping to spur excitement (as does the healthy cut in tax revenue that the states bring in for their trouble, often earmarked aside and paid forward to programs for children’s sports or communities in need), it’s no surprise that the push to legalize betting across the United States has become almost as big of news stories as the actual sports that people are betting on. While legalized betting causes a rush of interest, it’s important to note that the legislative process can take quite a bit of time: deliberation and bill drafting doesn’t happen overnight, which is why the industry meets each new milestone in fits and starts.
Much of the hang-up stems from the specifics of the work calendar for various state legislations. State congressmen only hear and vote on proposed bills for a fraction of the year, so there’s only so much time for them to work out the specifics of how to best make the state-run: as a result, sports betting gets pushed to the back burner at times.
Here’s a look at the states that are in the process of setting up mobile sportsbooks this year, as well as where the next wave of legalizations could take place.
First on the list is the Commonwealth of Kentucky, where the state legislature voted to make mobile and in-person gambling legal on the last day of their legislative session for the year back in March. While most states get bogged down in red tape (as you’ll learn later in this article) as they try to set out provisions to get the industry up and running, Kentucky has done a pretty good job of expediting the process. Per the provisions of the bill they passed, June 28 is the earliest possible date that sportsbooks could go live in the Bluegrass State. From there, they’ll have six months to begin operations, so it’ll be off to the races as the state’s gaming control board works with the sportsbooks to ensure all regulations are met. Business can begin: December 28 is the deadline date, so if things go according to plan, we’re certain to have betting in Kentucky before year’s end.
The next state where legal sports betting could begin is Florida. The Sunshine State voted to legalize sports betting way back in 2021, working with the Seminole Tribe (who agreed to host the internet servers needed to support mobile gaming for the state on tribal land, hoping that this action would be protected under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and save the state from several legislative steps). However, Uncle Sam didn’t like the workaround, so the state and the tribe have been embroiled in a federal lawsuit ever since. While federal cases can take years before they get their day in court, the two sides could still settle at any time, paving the way for legal gambling to begin in the state.
Three other states: Maine, Vermont, and North Carolina, have legalized mobile sports betting, but we likely won’t see the returns until next year at the earliest. Maine’s gambling regulatory agency has to go through a mountain of public comments (approving or denying each one) to determine how to regulate the industry best before it can go live.
Betting at retail facilities has been legal in North Carolina since 2019, but legislators in the Tar Heel State voted to endorse mobile betting earlier this month. They have a year to do so from June 14, when Governor Roy Cooper signed the bill into law, and it’s likely the books will go online in early 2024 ahead of the Super Bowl rush.
Vermont is in the same boat, legalizing the pastime in early June: like North Carolina and most other states, they will likely wait until January to give sportsbooks the green light.