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Wisconsin Weighing the Options for Sports Betting

The start of the NFL season has brought with it a new interest throughout the United States due to the fact that many residents can legally place wagers on their favorite teams for the first time. With an increase in sportsbooks at casinos throughout the Midwest, as well as the establishment of popular sports betting sites in neighboring states, the state of Wisconsin is feeling the pressure to follow suit.

At the start of the NFL season this past weekend, residents of Wisconsin were able to cross the Mississippi River into Dubuque, Iowa to place their wagers on the Packers, as well as other NFL teams. After the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to give states the right to legalize gambling, 13 states have legalized sports betting and 35 states could push for legalization in the next five years, as reported by the Madison State Journal.

Sports Betting Throughout the Midwest

Iowa’s Diamond Jo Casino, located just outside of Dubuque, is one of the many casinos throughout the country that now offers a sportsbook for those interested in placing wagers on NFL games, as well as other sports. Bettors previously had to fly to Las Vegas or place their bets through a bookie or offshore sportsbook, now they just need $5 and transportation to the Diamond Jo Casino, whose sportsbook is run by popular daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel.

In addition to the sports betting options in Iowa, a number of other sports wagering opportunities have presented themselves in the Midwest. Just a week before the NFL season kicked off, Indiana opened its sportsbooks, and Illinois will be doing the same before the end of the year. Michigan and Minnesota legislators are also pushing to legalize sports gambling in their states as well.

Despite the rate at which sports betting is spreading throughout the country, the state of Wisconsin has yet to take definitive steps toward legalization. Throughout the United States, sports gambling has shown that it can be successful in bringing in significant amounts of money in the states where it has been legalized. Delaware has brought in over $7 million in taxes since legalization, while Pennsylvania and New Jersey have brought in $8 million and $28 million respectively. So, what’s the hold up in Wisconsin?

Obstacles and Timetable for Legalization

Representative Tyler Vorpagel believes that the legalization of sports betting in the state of Wisconsin could be beneficial for the state as a whole, as he told NBC Green Bay. Vorpagel was responsible for the introduction of the Daily Fantasy Sports bill, but the bill never reached an assembly vote. Despite Vorpagels efforts, there are still many who oppose the suggestion that Wisconsin should legalize sports betting. Organizations like Citizens Against Gambling believe that the legalization would come at the expense of residents, who may fall victim to large gambling companies who try to take advantage of addictive gambling behaviors.

A realistic timetable for the legalization of sports betting within the state of Wisconsin would suggest that the process could take years. The idea needs for first be approved by the Assembly and the Senate in two consecutive session, which would then lead to a referendum that would allow for an amendment to the state’s constitution. An alternative option for sports betting in the state of Wisconsin would be through tribal casinos, which are already operating under a gaming compact in the state.

If the state chose to take the longer route, the tribal nations that are currently operating 26 casinos within the state of Wisconsin could be affected and may push to renegotiate their existing compact to allow them to offer sports gambling anyway. There is some concern that the legalization of sports betting in the state would stop payments to the state from these tribes, due to the fact that they would no longer have the exclusive right to offer gambling in the state. This is concerning considering the state received $53 million from the tribes in the past year.

Lingering Concerns

To some, the benefits of legalizing sport betting in Wisconsin are clear. However, many of these benefits are still in question. While the taxation of legal sports betting will certainly bring money into the state, there is some concern over the projected revenue. Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have all brought in half or less than half of what they expected from the legalization of sports betting.

Proponents of the push for legalization suggest that sports betting is already taking place illegally within the state of Wisconsin; the legalization and regulation of this betting would only benefit the state and its residents. The concern is that this legalization would make betting more available, making it dangerous for residents who may be suffering from gambling addiction. Although sports betting has been legalized in other areas of the country, there is still much debate about the rules and regulations of such an initiative.

For the time being, residents of Wisconsin will have to settle with crossing the Mississippi River or into neighboring states in order to place any wagers on their favorite NFL teams.

Concerns Over D.C. Lottery and Sports Gambling Contract

Intralot, a Greek company that offers a variety of gambling and sports betting services, received a $215 million contract to provide sports betting to the city of Washington D.C. last month. As reported by the Washington Post, the company will be responsible for half of the work needed to introduce sports gambling to the city, while maintaining the existing lottery system. The only problem: Intralot has given this responsibility to a firm that doesn’t have any employees.

Adhering to the Law?

The law within the nation’s capital requires companies with large public contracts to subcontract work to small local businesses. In doing so, large companies would help boost the local economy and create jobs for local residents. Intralot chose a company they partnered with on a previous deal that gave them the power to run the lottery within the capital, but this choice has been the source of speculation about whether or not local businesses and residents would be benefiting at all.

Earlier this summer Intralot confirmed that the firm Veterans Services Corp. would be responsible for providing all of the resources needed to fulfill the terms of the contract. The new deal was awarded without a traditional bidding process, which raised a few red flags for an agency that has no employees and has listed executives on their website who do not actually work there. Emamanuel Bailey leads Veterans Services Corp. and is a resident of Maryland, not Washington D.C. In order to adhere to the law, the company was registered at the home of his 75-year-old mother in D.C. Bailey’s mother is also a majority shareholder of the company.

Questionable Political Ties

In addition to these concerns, other media outlets have suggested that Bailey’s political connections have played a hand in the awarding of the recent sports gambling contract. Councilmember Jack Evans originally pushed for sports betting within the nation’s capital and is now being investigated by the FBI for possible ethics violations. Other subcontractors linked to the Intralot deal have close ties with a number of other politicians. These connections motivated council members Robert C. White Jr. (D-At Large) and Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) to call for a close examination of Intralot and Veterans Services Corp.

Further Complications

In response to concerns surrounding Veterans Service Corp.’s ability to effectively handle the contract, Intralot officials said that the work could be completed by DC09, another company that was formed in a joint effort by Intralot and Veterans Services 10 years ago. The link between the companies only furthers the confusion surrounding the deal, as Veterans Services owns 51 percent of DC09, while Intralot funded the creation of DC09 and is in control of the company, as found by The Washington Post. It is also worth noting that Bailey’s compensation over the past five years has not come from Veterans Services Corps, but DC09.

DC09’s headquarters are legitimately based in Southeast Washington, but the confusion surrounding the connections between the companies and political figures seem to discredit this fact. Additionally, no formal mention of DC09 was made in the initial plan that Intralot submitted to district officials earlier this summer. Bailey’s comments to The Washington Post, referring to Veterans Services as “a case study” for the small-business program, hardly eases any of the concerns that have been raised thus far, and the deal must now stand up to the formal probe launched by council members in Washington D.C.

Illinois Sports Betting Expands to Convenience Stores

Within the year, residents of Illinois will be able to start placing sports bets at their local convenience stores. Gamblers throughout the state could have access to a new lottery sports wagering pilot program at 2,500 gas stations, convenience stores, and other retailers, with the option of adding an additional 2,500 retailers following suit in the second year.

Increased Access and Availability

The unique program follows the bill announced earlier this summer, which legalized sports betting within the state. Not only that, the landmark piece of legislation is widely regarded as being one of the most aggressive and expansive sports betting bills the US has seen since the overturning of PASPA by the US Supreme Court last year. 

Over the past few months the State has introduced sports betting at its casinos, while also announcing the establishment of six new casinos along an increase in availability of video gaming terminals throughout the state. The pilot program for a lottery sports betting system is the first of its kind within the United States.

Like other lottery programs throughout the country, gamblers aged 21 and older will be able to place their bets at electronic kiosks at retailers throughout the state. The new lottery sports program will give residents the opportunity to pick the outcome of multiple games as part of a single bet, otherwise known as a parlay. The bettor must select all of the correct outcomes in order to win. This type of parlay wager was not possible until the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision made last year to legalize sports betting throughout the country.

Timetable and Projected Costs

In wake of this monumental decision, a number of states have made the push to legalize and regulate sports betting within the past year. However, many states have chosen to implement sports betting through brick-and-mortar casino sportsbooks or online betting platforms rather than a lottery system. Delaware is the only state to have a comparable parlay-only lottery system, which brought in over $6 million last year. This system, however, requires a $2 minimum wager on parlay bets for only NFL and collegiate football. The new sports-betting system in Illinois has the opportunity to expand on this, in order to make a wide variety of parlay bets readily available.

The pilot program in Illinois is projected to cost nearly $20 million, a large portion of which stems from a steep licensing fee. Despite high initial costs officials estimate that the sports-betting industry within the state could generate $58 million to $128 million annually. The Chicago Sun Times reported that Illinois Lottery general counsel Cornell Wilson is turning to other states in order to research the most effective ways to implement and launch this new program. The plan is set to role out with little to no threat to business for large casinos and sportsbooks, who offer more variety and better odds for sports betting. Rules and regulations surrounding the parlay lottery kiosks still need to be established, and no concrete time table for the official launch of the program has been established.

In the end, Illinois is moving closer and closer to the full-scale mobile betting we see in states like Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New Jersey. This is nothing more than the state lottery’s attempt to get in on the action. Being that licensing fees for the parlay-only product are massive ($20 million), it goes without saying that one of the bigger sportsbook operators will lay first claim to it.

Sports Betting in DC May Not Be Here for NFL Season

Over the winter and spring that just passed, a number of American states and jurisdictions moved to legalize sports betting in a variety of different ways. The nation’s capital, Washington DC, was one of the jurisdictions that did this by way of a legislative process that seemed to take no time at all. When you consider that sports betting was officially legalized in DC last December, it might come as a shock to find out that, in all likelihood, sports betting will not be available in time for the start of the 2019/2020 NFL season, which is only a matter of weeks away.

Despite being one of the smallest areas to legalize sports betting, Washington DC is going to need more time to get things set in place so that betting can begin. There is still hope for NFL betting this year, but how far into the season it will be made available remains to be seen.

What is Going On in DC?

On its surface, the delays we are seeing in DC could easily be mistaken for some sort of bureaucratic dispute between lawmakers, but the explanation is actually much simpler than that. DC’s Office of Lottery and Gaming, which is tasked with overseeing all sports betting activities, has not yet begun accepting license applications, and may not be able to do so until sometime in September. The driving force behind this is the fact that the rules sportsbook operators must abide by in DC have not yet been established.

According to the Washington Post, some of the points of contention that still need to be worked out concern things such as advertising restrictions, requirements for licensure, and whether college sports bets will be restricted in any way. If you can recall, a few other states that have legalized sports betting have banned wagers involving colleges from the state in question.

What makes the sports betting situation in Washington DC so unique is that, unlike most other states that have legalized sports betting, there are no casinos where a sportsbook can quickly and easily be placed. Instead, sports betting in the nation’s capital will take place at restaurants and bars, sports arenas, and kiosks that are reportedly going to exist in convenience stores and other, similar locales. There will be mobile sports betting available as well, however the sole application will belong to the city government.

When and How Betting Can Be Expected

If all goes to plan applications will begin being accepted in September, with a turnaround of 30-45 days for provisional licenses to be granted. A provisional license will be granted to operators who have partnered with established entities in the gambling industry, such as DraftKings, for example. For brand new operators, the full licensure process may take up to a half year.

What this means for sports bettors is that, in all likelihood, they might see NFL betting in time for the second half of the regular season. Depending on what the rules surrounding college football betting end up being, there will still be plenty of NCAA action to take part in as well.

There is no official word on when the government-sponsored sports betting application will go live, but DC’s council did announce that a Greek company by the name of Intralot would be tasked with developing the app.

North Carolina Passes Tribal Sports Betting Bill

Since the 1992 PASPA ruling, which put a Federal ban on sports betting, was overturned during the middle of 2018, more than 10 states have passed legislation that made sports betting legal. North Carolina joined that growing number of states last week when Governor Roy Cooper signed SB154 into law. While this is a move that Carolina sports bettors will be happy about, it is worth noting that sports betting in North Carolina will look a good bit different from that which exists in states like Pennsylvania and Illinois.

The path to legalization did not have much in the way of roadblocks, but did have a sizeable gap that had some concerned that SB154 would die before it was approved. Back in April, the Senate’s bill passed by an overwhelming majority and many folks thought that it would sail into and subsequently through the House. Such was not the case, however, as more than two months passed before the bill was spoken of once more. Finally, earlier this month, the House passed the measure almost as easily as the Senate. While other state’s had to fight battles in order to see sports betting legislation passed, such was not the case in North Carolina. What made SB154 different, as well as what the bill actually entails, will be discussed in-depth below.

What Makes North Carolina Different?

First and foremost, the biggest differentiating factor between North Carolina and just about every other state that has passed sports betting legislation is the fact that North Carolina really didn’t legalize anything. Because gambling is already allowed in the state so long as it takes place on Native American lands, SB154 simply redefined what Class III entails. In the end, “sports wagering” was added to the list of approved gaming—alongside table games and slots—that is allowed to take place on Native American lands.

For this reason, SB154 is considerably shorter than most other pieces of sports betting legislation we have seen passed up to this point.

When Can You Begin Betting?

Another aspect of sports betting in North Carolina that is different from other states is that there seems to be no rush for the state’s two casinos to begin taking bets. Both Harrah’s properties—one of which is in Cherokee, the other is in Murphy—will likely offer sports betting “by late fall,” according to regional vice president Brian Saunooke. Though both casinos will not need to expand their footprint in order to offer a sportsbook, there are upgrades needed, including an addition 30+ employees at both sites. Even though sports betting might not exist in time for the beginning of the NFL and NCAA football seasons, it will likely be available before each league’s respective postseasons.

Finally, there will be no mobile sports betting allowed in North Carolina. Because the state already prohibits Native American casinos from offering mobile gaming, it follows that sports betting too will remain something that must be done at a brick and mortar betting location. Sports betting in North Carolina is only expected to bring in a little more than $1 million on an annual basis, but seeing as there are only two betting locations in the entire state, that sum is nothing to scoff at.

MLB Inks Deal with DraftKings

Back in November of 2018, Major League Baseball announced that MGM Resorts would be the league’s first ever gambling partner. When you consider baseball betting scandal stories such as the Black Sox in the early 1900s and Pete Rose in 1989, it is mildly shocking that MLB would ever make such a move. Even more surprising is the fact that, just this week, MLB announced that they had penned a deal with DraftKings, one of the largest daily fantasy sports operators in the world.

What Does the Deal Entail?

The deal between DraftKings Inc and Major League Baseball is a multi-year deal that will allow DraftKings to use official league data and logos within its online offering. How this might look for DraftKings players is that you will see your drafted team appearing in their official MLB uniforms and will be basing your selections off of data provided directly by Major League Baseball.

The financial terms and exact length of the deal were not disclosed, but you can rest-assured knowing that this was no small transaction. Gambling is something that has been intertwined into foreign soccer and other professional sporting leagues for decades, but has long been something US sports leagues have avoided talking about, much less promoting.

Thanks to the overturning of the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act last year, states like New Jersey, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania have created legalized and regulated sports betting networks. As an increasing number of states move to legalize and regulate the activity, we expect that deals such as this will become increasingly commonplace. What’s more, we may soon be seeing sports betting not just being affiliated with Major League Baseball, but in MLB stadiums as well.

New Dodger Stadium to Potentially Host In-House Sports Betting

Dodger Stadium, home to MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, is one of the oldest stadiums in the league (built in 1962) and is set to be replaced in the coming years. Renderings for the new stadium were released this week and, according to an article by the Los Angeles Times, the images showed a part of the stadium where sports betting odds were clearly displayed. Naturally, the assumption has become that the Dodgers are contemplating taking advantage of the shifting mood towards sports betting by creating a part of their ballpark specifically for it.

With all of this being said, there remains just one problem: California is not one of the ten states where sports betting is currently legal. In fact, while a handful of other states are either a few votes or a governor’s signature away from a fully legal and regulated sports betting network, California really isn’t close at all. The biggest push for sports betting in California came just a month ago when Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) and Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) introduced a bill that, if successful, would put the question of whether or not to make sports betting legal on the 2020 ballot. This means that the most optimistic timeline for legalized and regulated sports betting in California is sometime in 2021.

For California’s five Major League Baseball teams, sports betting is something the remains a long ways away for the time being. Understanding the massive potential for tax revenue from betting at stadiums and sports betting in general, perhaps sports betting legalization will be expedited. For now, however, we will simply have to look at an artist’s renderings and wonder about the possibilities.

Oregon Lottery Offering Sports Betting by September

In a move that is as similar as it is dissimilar to others around the country, Oregon has moved to offer sports betting via a mobile application in time for the upcoming NFL season. The reason we use the word “offer” rather than “legalize” is due to the fact that sports betting was never truly illegal in Oregon. When the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 was passed and ultimately banned sports betting in all of the country, a few exceptions were made. Oregon was on the small list of exceptions, so when PASPA was overturned in 2018, sports betting was officially legal.

Thanks to all of this, the matter of whether to offer sports betting in Oregon came down to a decision by the lottery commission. There is a bit more to the story than this, but the end result is that Oregon will be the first Northwest state that has given sports betting the green light. 

No Vote, but Opponents Abound

Even though this story seems like one of a simple, cut and dry decision on the part of the Oregon Lottery, happenings on the US sports betting scene rarely go over so smoothly. The first level of opposition came in the form of a few senators who attempted to amend a separate bill in a way that would disallow the lottery from offering any games “via the internet” or “via mobile devices.” Fortunately, this movement did not gain much traction and the amendment was eventually done away with.

Sports Betting Operator’s Integrity Questioned

Another interesting facet of this story took place in the wake of the Oregon Lottery Commission’s decision to award the sole mobile operator license to a firm known as SBTech. On its face, this seems like a relatively fitting choice seeing as SBTech already operates in a few other US states and has a longstanding reputation with brands in Europe and elsewhere around the world. In reality, there quickly arose questions about the operator’s integrity as it relates to operating in jurisdictions where sports betting is illegal

Unsurprisingly enough, these questions arose directly from the firm that finished second place in the Oregon Lottery’s Request for Proposal, Scientific Games. In a public letter, Scientific Games accused SBTech of being affiliated with a site—10Bet—that was supposedly operating illegally in Belgium. This event ended up being more of a flash in the pan than anything else as it also gained little traction. SBTech was quick to deny the accusations, and the Oregon Lottery’s chief gaming officer, Farshad Allahdadi, came out in support of the brand. Considering that SBTech passed all of the background checks levied against it by the Oregon Lottery Commission, it seems safe to say that they are a trustworthy operator. After all, they already operate in both Mississippi and Atlantic City.

Notetaking

While sports betting will be offered via a mobile platform supported by SBTech, it will exist in somewhat different fashion from what we see elsewhere around the country. During the initial stages of Oregon sports betting, bettors will only be able to place wagers on professional sporting events. This means that “amateur” athletics, such as NCAA football and basketball, will be excluded from offer. The movers and shakers of the Oregon Lottery Commission have made it clear that the option is on the table for the future, but have chosen to stay away from now.

If mobile sports betting is set to be on offer by September, the estimation is that betting kiosks will be available shortly after 2020 begins. Betting kiosks will be located at most locations that currently offer lottery tickets (such as gas stations), but they will eventually be placed elsewhere, in restaurants and bars.



Maine Passes Landmark Sports Betting Legislation

In the world of US casinos and gambling in general, the state of Maine does not typically make many headlines. After all, there are only a handful of casinos, even fewer off-track betting facilities, and the state, as a whole, has a fairly small, sparse population. Despite all of this, a piece of legislation that just recently unanimously passed through the House of Representatives is being heralded as one of the best sports betting bills in the country.

After first narrowly passing through Maine’s House of Representatives by a vote of 19-15, the House went on to pass the bill, known as LD 553, without a single objection. Democratic Governor Janet Mills still needs to apply her signature to the 23-page document, but that seems like a foregone conclusion as it currently stands. Proponents of legal sports betting are pointing to Maine as having potentially set the standard for other pieces of sports betting legislation that are currently being drafted across the country.

What Makes Maine so Special?

Something that you will hear a lot when discussing LD 553 is the phrase “open market.” The reason for this is due to the fact that Maine is creating an even playing field for potential sports betting licensees. Unlike other states that put a cap on the number of licenses and/or restrict licensees to only preexistent casinos and other gambling facilities, Maine has not set any limits on the number of licenses that can be dealt and are further not requiring any operators to be from the state of Maine in any sense of the word. 

Something else that makes this development in Maine so significant is that there are two different—yet favorable—tax rates for brick and mortar and mobile operators. For brick and mortar sports betting facilities, sports betting revenue will be taxed at a low rate of 10%. Mobile operators will see sports betting revenue taxed at 16%. 

A point of contention during the formation of this piece of legislation was with regard to the eligibility of mobile operators. There was a contingent of lawmakers who felt that mobile operators should be “tethered” to an entity that already existed in Maine. In other words, there was hope that mobile operators be tied to a casino or off-track betting facility as a means of keeping things within the state, so to speak. While that is a good idea, the “open market” idea won out and operators do not have to be tied to any single gambling facility. In fact, the bill itself specifically states that gaming operators that already exist in other states will be qualified to apply for a license to operate within the state. The logic behind this is that operators from other states already know the ins and outs of the industry and will be better equipped to offer a top-notch sports betting platform right from the offing. 

Mobile betting was a major part of this bill and was included from the beginning, which is something we did not see in many other states. 

Who Can Bet, and When?

The timeline as it relates to when bets will actually be placed is something that is still quite vague. First, the governor needs to sign the bill to officially enact it as law. After that, the body tasked with overseeing the sports betting industry—The Department of Public Safety’s Gambling Control Unit—will need to determine what licenses are given out. After prospective licensees pay their $20,000 application fee, there is no set timeline for when the Gambling Control Unit will determine whether or not a license is given. 

Conservative estimates do not think that we will see sports betting in Maine until 2020, however there is some confidence that we will see bets being placed in time for the NFL season this fall. 

Those who are able to place bets both in person and online must be at least 21 years old. At this point, there is no official language as to how one will have to prove that they are of age to place mobile bets. As is the case in most other states, it is widely believed that one will have to prove their age at a physical gambling destination before they can place mobile wagers. 

All things considered, things are happening in a hurry in New England. After all, Maine’s neighbor, New Hampshire, also moved to legalize sports betting just a week or so ago. The dominoes continue to fall and now, more than 20% of the total United States 21+ population has access to legal, regulated sports betting.

Illinois Expanding Gambling Industry by Considerable Margins

Illinois is a lot like other states in the country in that it recently moved to legalize sports betting. It is different than other states, however, in that its gambling expansion bill came with a lot more than just that. In addition to the state officially allowing its casinos to offer sports betting, the 816-page bill also sets forth the establishment of six new casinos, one of which will be located in Chicago. On top of all of this, the quantity of video gaming terminals allowed to be at bars and truck stops is going to nearly double.

When you consider all of the changes imminently going to hit Illinois’ gambling industry, it becomes immediately apparent that Illinois is the Midwestern gambling capital in the making. While this is music to the ears of gamblers and lawmakers, not everyone is happy about how drastic the gambling environment of the state is being altered.

A Quick, Massive Rollout of Changes

As mentioned above, the new law will not only pave the way for six new casino licenses, but will also allow currently existing casinos to expand their footprint. According to the law, the state’s 10 already standing casinos are able to expand their offering of slots and table games by roughly 70% when all is said and done. What’s more, the state’s three struggling horse tracks will all be allowed to virtually transform themselves into full-fledged casinos. Now, the tracks can offer slots and table games.

Perhaps the most noticeable change people will see comes with the aforementioned casino that will be erected in the Chicago area. The entity that is granted this license will also be granted the ability to station slots and other video games within the confines of O’Hare and Midway airports. This is such a big deal because there is only one other part of the US where gambling takes place in airports, and that is in Las Vegas. Understanding just this much will help you understand why many people believe Illinois is going to quickly become one of the premier gambling destinations of the United States, behind places like Nevada and New Jersey.

For those who have vested interest in the state’s gambling industry, as well as gamblers in general, the passing of this massive bill is being seen as a major victory. As these things typically go, however, not everyone is satisfied with how quickly nor how easily this bill was passed. Luckily for them, the bill does not solely focus on the positives an expanded gambling industry will bring to the state.

Problem Gambling to be Studied as Part of the Bill

For those who are on the front lines of combating problem gambling in Illinois, the expansion of the gambling industry is something that brings with it mixed emotions. On one hand, there is some disappointment with regard to just how easily accessed gambling will be, but on the other hand researchers are finally going to be able to study just how many people in the state are problem gamblers. The reason for this is due to the fact that the recently passed bill also sets forth a study into problem gambling and how it can be addressed going forward.

Opponents have gotten angry in the wake of this bill’s passing, but it is clear that their anger is mostly in vain as Illinois’ Governor JB Pritzker has spoken in support of gambling on more than one occasion. Being that Illinois is one of the worst-performing states from an economic perspective, this move is one that makes a lot of sense. With that said, Pritzker is not moving forward on expanding gambling in Illinois without regard for the potential problems that can arise. In addition to the bill mandating that a study into problem gambling be conducted, the first-term governor also outlined nearly $7 million that will go directly to supporting those who identify as being problem gamblers. The hope is that, with time, problem gambling in Illinois can be identified before it is too late.

There is no timeline surrounding when the Chicago casino will be built, but after hearing about projected revenues the site might bring in, the belief is that very little time will be wasted.


Indiana Moves to Legalize Sports Betting

The US Supreme Court overturned a law that banned sports betting in late 2018, and the wake has brought with it many states moving to legalize and regulate the activity. Earlier this month, Indiana became the 10th state to legalize sports betting thanks to the passing of a bill through both the house and the senate. Governor Eric Holcomb—unlike what we saw in Tennessee—was eager to sign the bill into law.

Upon signing the bill, he extrapolated upon his position by saying, “Gaming is a highly regulated industry that once had little competition, but now does from surrounding states and new technology. By modernizing our laws, this legislation will spur positive economic growth for our state and for an industry that employs over 11,000 Hoosiers. Additionally, it will bring in new revenue and create hundreds of new jobs – both permanent and in construction. I will direct the Indiana Gaming Commission to monitor for potential effects of this bill so that we can make necessary changes in future legislative sessions.”

There is not yet any clear indication of when bets will begin being taken, however some predictions point to the start of the 2019/20 NFL season as a likely date. With that said, it is believed that online betting platforms will take a bit longer to materialize. Online gaming has never been a thought in Indiana, so it may take some time for all of the rules and regulations to be figured out.

Overview of the Bill’s Path to Law

HB1015, otherwise known as the “Gaming Matters” bill, was created and introduced by Republican Mark Messmer, a state senator. Despite most senators and representatives presenting little opposition to the idea of legalized and regulated sports betting, there was some controversy during the bill’s journey to the desk of Governor Holcomb. While HB1015 was in committee within the House, language that allowed for online sports betting was taken out of the bill. This modified version of the bill was then passed through the House and onto Senate committee, where the online sports betting language was added once more. This bit of political trickery may be one of the crucial happenings that allowed for sports betting to finally be legalized.

In addition to the bill allowing for sports betting to take place both online and within the state’s brick and mortar facilities, it also paves the way for a new casino to be built in Terre Haute. This, in and of itself, might be the biggest change to the gaming landscape in Indiana. Up to this point, the casinos that do exist must—as a matter of law—be located on a body of water like a river or lake.

Despite the bill now being signed into law, Indiana’s gaming commission will not even begin accepting applications until the middle of the summer. Those who do apply will be forced to pay a $100,000 application fee and those that are approved will be forced to pay $50,000 annually in order to retain their license. On top of this, all sports betting revenue will be taxed at a 9.5% rate, which is better than what you will find in most other states where sports betting has been approved.

Conflict of Interests Arisen

Something that caught the eye of more than a few people is language in the bill that allowed for Spectacle Entertainment to move one of its Gary, Indiana licenses nearly 3 hours inland to Terre Haute. This is significant due to Terre Haute’s location on I-70, a cross-country interstate that connects East and West coasts. There is no doubting that this will massively increase revenue and profits for Spectacle Entertainment.

There are resounding criticisms regarding this particular portion of the bill due to potential conflicts of interest between Spectacle and members of Indiana’s state government. The IndyStar reports that Spectacle has spent more than $50,000 flying Governor Eric Holcomb to events. What’s more, a primary investor is rumored to have arranged a contract for the law firm of House Speaker Brian Bosma. All things considered, it seems a lot like Spectacle Entertainment greased the wheels to push through a law that would inevitably mean more profits for them in the long-run. Despite this, they may not be the only ones moving to Terre Haute. This is so because even though Spectacle is able to move one of its two licenses inland, the other license they hold will be temporarily removed. Ultimately, it will be offered to other operators and allow for another casino to be built in Terre Haute.