Category Archives: Regulation and Legal

Illinois Governor Passes Online Sports Betting Registration

Over the past week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed an Executive Order to allow bettors to create online accounts for sports betting. This Executive Order suspends the need for in-person registration for any sports wagering in the state and is part of the state government’s response to COVID-19 emergency safety restrictions. While a number of states throughout the country are slowly starting to reopen businesses and relax social distancing restrictions, Illinois has no definitive plan to re-open casinos in the immediate future, leaving the future of sports betting in limbo. A number of professional sports leagues have announced their intentions to return to play under new guidelines and in a series of one of a kind competitions. Pritzker’s Executive Order presents Illinois residents with the opportunity to begin betting on sports from the comfort of their own home.

Initial Plans for Illinois Sports Betting

The introduction of legal sports betting in the state of Illinois began a year ago, when state officials passed a bill to grant and approve licenses for sportsbooks. The bill requires bettors to register at casinos, racetracks, or sports facilities in order to legally place wagers on their favorite sports. After signing up in person, bettors may place wagers on mobile applications that are operated by the brick-and-mortar locations where they registered. Since the introduction of the bill, only two casinos have been granted temporary operating permits by the Gaming Board: Rivers and Argosy Casino Alton. However, at this time, neither of these two brick-and-mortar locations have requested approval for online sports wagering. It’s worth noting that Illinois also included a “penalty box” period in their gambling law, which gives casinos 18 months of sports betting before online gaming giants like FanDuel and DraftKings can apply as a sports betting provider.

After much deliberation surrounding the rules and regulations for these perspective sports betting providers, sportsbooks were prepared to officially launch in time for this year’s March Madness tournament. This launch, however, came to a screeching halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. As the threat of the pandemic grew, safety regulations prevented any possibility of bettors registering at brick-and-mortar locations. Of course, these regulations also led to the suspension of collegiate and professional sports on a global scale.

The Return of Sports Betting

Since social distancing regulations and stay-at-home orders were put in place in mid-March, the United States has successfully started to flatten the curve and stymie the spread of coronavirus. During this period, professional sports leagues, including the NHL, NBA, and MLS, have developed and announced their intentions to return to play. All of these plans have resulted in an unprecedented period in which these major sports leagues will be playing throughout the summer, in competitions that will be the first of their kind. The start of these competitions has created the perfect storm for sportsbooks looking to get back into the action.

While the recent Executive Order is a step in the right direction, it does not change the fact that the only legal sports betting options, at the moment, are limited to the brick-and-mortar locations. Officials are hopeful that these casinos can reopen sometime in June, but in the mean time they remain closed indefinitely. Illinois Gaming Board administrator Marcus Fruchter issued an announcement stating that Pritzker’s decision opens the door for online sports betting to become available sooner rather than later. The statement went on to praise the order as an option for protecting a revenue source during a period in which the state is recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic.

The Gaming Board will hold a virtual meeting on Friday, June 11, which will be its first meeting since January 30. Bettors and officials alike hope that this could be a crucial step in launching sports betting in time for Illinoisans to place a wager on their Chicago Blackhawks, when the NHL playoffs kick off later this summer.

Nevada Approve Esports Betting in Response to Pandemic

Facing one of the greatest lulls in sports betting since its legalization in the United States, Nevada has approved esports betting for regulated sportsbooks throughout the state. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe, sportsbooks have been forced into limited sports betting offerings, raising concerns for operators throughout the country. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of these limited offerings, Nevada has made the historic decision to allow sports betting outlets throughout the state to begin accepting wagers for Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a popular and competitive first-person shooter. With this decision, Nevada becomes the first state in the country to officially offer esports betting, opening the door for other states to do the same.

Shifting to Esports

While professional sports leagues across the globe have stopped indefinitely due to the coronavirus, professional gaming has come into the spotlight. Professional gamers and streamers have found solace in the fact that much of what they do can be completed from the comfort of their own home, while retaining a competitive atmosphere that sports fans crave. Even popular NBA and NFL players have begun to explore this outlet, playing and streaming competitions with some of their favorite video games.

The potential of offering lines on esports has hung in the balance in many states, as sports betting continues to evolve throughout the country. While many states have adopted legislation for sports betting since the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to lift the ban, many other states continue to question its merit. While sports betting is still in its infancy throughout the country, many have debated whether or not esports should be thrown into the mix of potential lines for bettors.

While the legitimacy of esports may be debated, there is no denying the competitiveness. Leagues for popular games like FIFA, Overwatch, League of Legends and CS:GO have been established across the globe with official rules and regulations. Some leagues, like FIFA, have even established ties with professional sports leagues like the MLS. Additionally, streaming platforms like Twitch, Mixer, and YouTube have given professional gamers an outlet for building an audience that is comparable to professional sports contests. Now, with the absence of available traditional contests to wager on, it appears that esports is going to have a chance to prove itself as a viable sports betting option.

Opening Day

On Thursday, William Hill became the first Las Vegas sportsbook to begin offering esports betting, listing lines for contests that took place on the same day. The CS:GO matches that they offered lines on were available to live audiences on various streaming sites, including YouTube and Twitch. Much like any other sporting events, the odds were accessible via William Hill’s Nevada mobile app for players to begin placing their wagers. The matches offered by William Hill took place in the ESL Proleague and included the following matchups: 100 Thieves (-500) vs. Swole Patrol (+375) and Team Liquid (-335) vs. Made in Brazil (+275).

One Small Step of Esports

In many countries throughout Europe, esports has already been accepted as a reliable sports betting option. In the United States, New Jersey has tested esports betting, but concrete legislation has not been finalized. Nevada’s decision to pioneer esports betting by offering odds for CS:GO paves the way for other states, as well as other esports.

The decision to offer lines for esports appears to be a lifeline for a gambling industry that is not only faced with the issue of suspended sports leagues, but also the temporary closure of many brick-and-mortar sportsbooks and casinos. In the coming months, the success or failure of Nevada’s decision could determine the future of esports betting in the country.

Spain Imposes New Regulations for Gambling Advertising

Alberto Garzon, Spain’s consumer protection minister, recently announced plans for a serious crackdown on gambling advertising amidst concerns about addictive gambling behaviors. Throughout the country, officials have already begun to impose over 100 new restrictions, including cutting 80 percent of online gambling adds and limiting opportunities for gambling advertising sponsorships in professional sports. The decision to launch these new restrictions stems from a campaign promise made by Garzon’s Unidas Podemos party to protect youth and gambling addicts. The latest changes have raised some concerns about the possible impact on the growing gambling industry.

Details of the Ban

The reasons for the ban have been clearly stated; Garzon considers this a clear issue related to public health, much like the use of tobacco or other addictive products. The Spanish gaming lobby reported that gamblers in the nation lose an estimated 10 billion euros every year. This estimate includes sports bets, casinos, and national lottery tickets. While this figure is certainly staggering, it is important to consider its implications for the amount of potential revenue produced through wagers placed and sponsorships that have come from this budding industry.

One of the most important changes to help address Garzon’s concerns is the banning of marketing offers that advertise promotions for free bets to new customers, which Garzon believes clearly targets vulnerable groups. Along those same lines, any ads during live sports broadcasts cannot promote live betting or specific in-play wagering markets. These free bet and live betting promotions are common for online casinos and sports betting sites throughout the world, yet Garzon clearly feels that a change must be made to eliminate them.

The new restrictions will reduce television gambling advertising by as much as 80 percent. This will be done by limiting all online gambling adds to a four-hour window starting at 1 am. This window not only applies to television adds, but also radio and online platforms. Gambling companies will also be barred from using celebrity endorsements in any of their advertising, which could have a significant impact on companies like Codere, who use Real Madrid stars Luka Modric and Eden Hazard for their marketing. Additionally, soccer teams who feature gambling advertisements on their jersey will have to remove those advertisements on all youth jerseys being sold.

Potential Effects of the Ban

Like many other regions of the world, Spain has seen an increasing interest in gambling over the past decade. Online gambling in Spain nearly tripled between the years of 2014 and 2018. With this substantial growth, the nation has inevitably witnessed a rise in gambling advertising as well. These sweeping regulations now pose a significant threat to advertisers and the sports teams they sponsor, as well as the gambling industry as a whole.

Many teams have benefitted from the significant growth in the gambling industry throughout the country. Popular Spanish soccer clubs, such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Levante, have featured gambling advertising on their jerseys for years. Under Garzon’s new restrictions, gambling and sports betting companies are barred from entering naming rights deals with professional sports teams’ stadiums, nor can they have advertising within these stadiums. Many soccer clubs throughout Spain have enjoyed sponsor deals with gambling companies, and they may feel that these new restrictions pose a threat to these lucrative opportunities.

While the current changes have a relatively minimal impact on sports betting itself, they could have serious implications for the industry over time. The changes do not completely remove sports betting advertisements from the equation, but teams could become wary of entering new sponsorship deals in fear of stricter regulations in the future. Additionally, the impact of the limited advertising opportunities could damage existing revenues, shrinking the gambling and sports betting industry as a whole. It will be interesting to see how Garzon’s regulations affect the gambling landscape as they are introduced over the next few months.

New York Court Rules Fantasy Sports Illegal

On Thursday, February 6 an appeals court in the state of New York determined that daily fantasy sports contests are in fact illegal under state gambling laws. These contests, which have been in operation since 2016, were found to be in violation of the state’s constitution, threatening sports betting giants like FanDuel and DraftKings. The latest ruling also contested an earlier provision that designated daily fantasy sports as something other than “gambling’ under state law. Now, as sports betting is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the country, industry leaders are faced with the potential threat of this ruling reaching higher level courts and eliminating one of their most lucrative markets in the nation.

Development of Sports Betting in New York

The legalization of fantasy sports in the state came in 2016, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed a law that declared these games did not constitute gambling. Cuomo signed the law on the grounds that fantasy sports provided for consumer safeguards and minimum standards. Until recently, officials had felt that fantasy sports did not constitute “gambling” because they required skill, unlike other gambling activities that are left to chance. The 2016 law also regulated and taxed daily fantasy sports providers, such as FanDuel and DraftKings.

Fantasy sports traditionally require bettors to assemble a team of professional athletes from the sport of their choice, while adhering to a set of theoretical salary caps. Once these teams are assembled, bettors can earn point with their teams over a short period time or in a fantasy sports league that lasts a portion of the professional season. The ongoing challenge to designate fantasy sports as gambling under the state law comes from the idea that these games leave much of the outcome to chance, rather than skill.

The timing of the ruling may come as a shock to bettors and industry leaders alike. In 2018, the United States Supreme Court lifted the ban on traditional sports betting throughout the nation, giving states the option of developing and implementing their own laws. Now, 13 states have legalized sports betting, and companies like FanDuel, a New York-based sports betting company, have been able to capitalize on this opportunity.

Evolution of the Lawsuit

The court ruling is actually the result of a lawsuit dating back to October of 2016, shortly after Cuomo signed the law legalizing fantasy sports. Four New York residents asserted that they had been harmed by this type of sports betting. This group of people, referred to as Stop Predatory Gambling, asserted that daily fantasy sports were a form of consumer financial fraud, and that the government was using them to exploit people who were already in debt. Jennifer White, a member of this group, shared how fantasy sports contributed to the debts her mother and father owed, resulting in significant financial harm for them and their family.

The New York Supreme Court’s Appellate Division found that the law signed by Cuomo in 2016 was unconstitutional and could not be exempted from the penal code. The reason behind their ruling stood in contrast to supporters’ initial reasons for legalizing fantasy sports; the appellate court stated that while fantasy sports do require some level of skill, they also involve a great deal of chance. For example, player injuries, bad weather, or other factors could greatly influence the outcome of each game. The amount of chance involved in each competition, the court felt, was too great to exempt fantasy sports from falling under the category of gambling.

Since the court is proposing that fantasy sports be classified as gambling under state law, the legalization of daily fantasy sports would require both a constitutional amendment and voter approval. This amendment and voter approval would be necessary if the higher courts agreed with the ruling of the appellate court.

Future Outlook of New York Sports Betting

As it stands, there is no guarantee that the case will reach the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals. The lower level court’s ruling does not immediately affect the operation of fantasy sports, so customers will still be able to play until the case advances. Both DraftKings and FanDuel issued statements that suggested they were not fearful of any significant action in the near future, and they expect to continue business as usual until further notice.

While the immediate future of fantasy sports seems to be secure, the lawsuit definitely puts a bit of uncertainty into the state’s gambling landscape. New York is one of the largest daily fantasy sports markets in the country, and the threat of a lawsuit such as this one cannot be ignored.

Florida Discussing Sports Betting Legislation

On Monday, leaders of the House and Senate confirmed that they were in talks over a potential gambling expansion that would bring organized sports betting to Florida. The bipartisan effort has led to serious conversations with the governor, in hopes of yielding a different result than previously proposed sports betting deals. The latest proposal hopes to bring in revenue from the Seminole Tribe, who has stopped making payments to the state due to a breach in their original agreement. If Florida were able to complete the steps necessary to legalize sports betting, they would become the 21st state to do so.

Context of the Deal

After Florida pari-mutuels infringed upon the Seminole’s exclusive right to operate designated-player card games, the state began losing money. The Seminole Tribe, who is best known for their Hard Rock casinos throughout the state, stopped their annual $350 million payments, which has caused Florida to look elsewhere to make up for the lost revenue. While a number of new betting options have been considered, nothing has gotten enough traction to even begin putting a dent in the missing revenue. Known for their complex and sometimes confusing gambling laws, Florida is now turning their attention to the sports betting industry, which has been growing significantly throughout the country.

Legislators hope that a new sports betting deal could restore revenue payments from the Seminole tribe to the state, while also upgrading gaming options at pari-mutuels. Rep. Mike LaRosa, who pushed to negotiate a sports betting deal in 2018, stated that the goal of the latest proposal is to iron out some of the larger issues, in hopes of finding a compromise between constituents before working on the details for new policy.

Weighing the Options

Although officials have expressed interest in bringing Seminole revenue back into the picture, it is clear that their intention is to continue allowing pari-mutuels to operate designated-player card games. Gov. Ron DeSantis also clearly stated that any new legislation would not be a broad expansion of gaming throughout the state. The state’s unwillingness to ban designated-player card games and DeSantis’ stance on gaming expansion doesn’t necessarily bode well for new legislation, but officials believe they have found a way to keep all parties happy.

In order to begin receiving revenue from the tribe again, Florida must first offer them exclusive access to something competitors, like the pari-mutuels, do not have. In this case, that ‘something’ is sports betting. By giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to sports betting at their Hard Rock locations, the state could then capitalize on some of the revenue, while also sharing some of the pot with the pari-mutuels, who could still operate their games.

Although talks are still in the very early stages, a number of other proposals have been made surrounding the possibility of online sports betting. Officials are seriously considering offering online sports betting in poker rooms at dog tracks, horse tracks, and jai-alai frontons. These locations could offer sports betting through terminals run by the Seminole Tribe. Other options could include increased hours of operation for tribal casinos, with additional games. The main focus is that the Seminoles would be the central figure in sports betting, if legislation moved forward in the state.

Long Way to Go

Any significant sports legislation is still a long way off, as officials continue to engage in preliminary discussions about possible sports betting options. The primary objective of the bipartisan effort to bring sports betting to the sunshine state is to keep the conversation going, in hopes of ruling out things that will not work and identifying the things that will. The biggest challenge that officials are facing, is the Seminole’s willingness to cooperate in the new discussions, given the fact that the state has broken their agreement in the past.

Washington State Pushing for Sports Betting

Washington is the latest state to begin a serious push for sports betting legalization in 2020, as significant constituents have added their voice in favor of legalization. This past Friday, the state’s leading card-room casino owner announced their support of both brick-and-mortar and mobile sports betting options for Washington residents. This most recent backing adds a new bill to a number of proposed bills that politicians and lawmakers will have to consider in the coming months. The support comes in a timely fashion, as the state’s legislative session began this past week and will last only 60 days. In that time, politicians must come to a conclusion over two bills that could legalize sports betting in the state of Washington before the end of the year.

Significant Support

Maverick Gaming LLC, one of the leading gaming companies in Washington, was a large reason HB-2478 and SB-6277 were introduced in the past week. The pair of bills are sponsored by Rep. Brandon Vick and Sens. Ann Rivers and Curtis King. Both bills seek to legalize sports betting through licensed card rooms, racetracks, and tribal casinos for professional and collegiate sports. Those in favor of the bills hope to make a push for them to pass and for sports betting to become available in 2020.

Maverick Gaming is a Nevada-based company that has built up an impressive collection of gaming facilities throughout the state over the past year. Maverick now owns 19 of the state’s 44 card rooms and is working to complete the purchase of five more. Eric Persson, CEO and co-founder of Maverick Gaming, believes that officials have put together a bill that can be successful, hoping to partner with Native American tribes to bring residents access to safe sports betting.

Details of the Bill

The proposed HB-2478 seeks to legalize sports betting in card rooms, racetracks, and tribal casinos who have gone through the process to properly obtain licenses. In addition to sports betting at these locations, mobile wagering would be permitted, as long as it could be tied to a tribal operator. Those interested in becoming a licensed operator must pay a licensing fee of $500,000. Under the parameters of the proposed bill, residents would be able to bet on all sports except for collegiate sports that involve teams from within the state.

The proposed bill is much like the others that have been passed throughout the United States. Since the 2018 Supreme Court’s decision to lift the ban on sports betting, 14 states have developed legislation that has been passed to bring legal sports betting in brick-and-mortar locations, as well as online platforms.

Other Potential Sports Betting Options

The latest bill proposed is by no means the first to come across the desks of Washington lawmakers. Last year, HB-1975 was introduced in hopes to bring legal sports betting to tribal gaming facilities. This bill had its fair share of reputable support as well, including Rep. Eric Pettigrew, who has become the NHL Seattle community ambassador and director of suites services. Many believe that HB-2478 is at odds with the one that was proposed with the help of Pettigrew last year.

Pettigrew’s HB-1975 pushed exclusively for tribal facilities in order to bypass some of the United States’ strictest anti-gambling laws. In order to collaborate on the newly proposed legislation, Native American tribes would have to turn their back on any progress they have made with Pettigrew’s bill over the past year. Although he expressed interest in partnering with the Native American tribes, Persson admits that any conversations with tribal groups have failed to bring about any results and have failed to be productive in any manner.

Future Collaborative Efforts

The increasing pressure to legalize sports betting suggests that legalization could come sooner rather than later, yet many are concerned that no legislation will go into effect until 2021. The short session period is attributed to the fact that it’s an election year, but it means significantly shortened period to make any decision on the proposed bills.

If there are any positives to take away from the latest developments on sports betting in the state of Washington, it is the fact that this issue is clearly gaining traction, as more and more parties voice their support. Over time, these groups will continue to collaborate in order to develop appropriate legislation that suits the residents of Washington. As it stands, lawmakers at least have an array of options to choose the best path for future sports betting within the state.

Maine Governor Vetoes Sports Betting Bill

On Friday, Governor Janet Mills announced her decision to veto a bill that would have legalized sports betting in the state of Maine. Lawmakers within the state have been working diligently to put together legislature that would allow the state to become the third in the New England region to permit sports betting. Despite their best efforts, Mills announced in a letter her decision to block the bill from passing, citing a number of concerns surrounding the proposed legislation. In response to the bill’s veto, lobbyists for the sports betting industry are focusing their efforts on appealing to lawmakers in order to override Mills’ decision.

Mills’ Praise for the Bill

Mills’ letter was issued on Friday and addressed to the legislature of the state. She began by acknowledging the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision to allows states to develop their own laws regarding sports betting. Since this decision, 14 states have chosen to create their own laws, and the sports betting industry throughout the country has blossomed. Within the New England region, Rhode Island and New Hampshire have already legalized sports betting, hoping to capitalize on what has proven to be a lucrative industry in other areas of the country.

Mills acknowledged that the proposed legislation was a “good effort,” and stated that she respects the time that law makers put in to make this legislation a reality. She went onto praise the individuals who worked on this effort in order to end illegal gambling operations that have been taking place for years. She finally stressed the importance of finding a balance between regulation and taxation, in order to maintain the interests of the state.

Mills’ Concerns Surrounding the Legislation

However, Mills reasons for vetoing the bill outweighed her support of it. Her concerns focused on the bandwagon effect that is taking place throughout the country, as more and more states dive into the emerging sports betting industry headfirst. Mills feels that many of these decisions are being made without taking proper precautions in ensuring the safety of the state and its residents. Jumping headfirst into legalization without first taking inventory of the success and failures of other states would be a costly error, Mills believes. These factors ultimately forced her to make the decision to veto the bill.

While the proposed legislation stated the legal betting age would be 21 or older, Mills believes that young people could still slip through the cracks. More importantly, she felt that advertising was often directed toward a younger audience. While regulations may be strict within the state, Mills fears that national marketing campaigns could extend their influence into Maine, reaching underage residents.

Revenue is one of the largest driving forces in the debate surrounding the legalization of sports betting. States believe that through regulation and taxation of sports betting they can benefit from the revenue produced, which is often projected to be millions of dollars. Mills, however, has cited the fact that many states, including Rhode Island, have fallen woefully short of these projections.

Future of Sports Betting in Maine

Proponents of sports betting legalization will be discouraged, as states throughout the New England region and the country continue to pass gambling expansions. New Hampshire, whose sports betting just went live at the start of the new year, has already seen 16,400 registered accounts with their partners, DraftKings. From those accounts more than $3.44 million was wagered in the first week of legal sports betting. While it is too early to say with any certainty, the legalization of sports betting in that state seems to have been a good choice.

Despite the veto, supporters of the bill should not lose hope just yet. Mills’ veto can still be overridden, but it would require approval from the Senate. The only roll call vote for the proposed legislation saw the Senate approve the bill with a vote of 19-15; in order to override Mills’, veto those 19 votes would have to become 24. If they motion to override does not get enough votes, then legislators will have to reconsider their approach to legal sports betting within the state.

New Hampshire Welcomes Sports Betting with the New Year

At the start of 2020, New Hampshire become the 14th state to legalize sports betting in the United States and the second state to legalize it in New England. On Monday, Governor Chris Sununu placed the first bet in the state to mark this momentous occasion. In front of a large crowd at a downtown sports bar, Sununu entertained suggestions for his first bet, eventually settling on a futures bet for the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. The 82nd governor of New Hampshire placed an $82 bet from his iPhone that offered a $1,000 payout. The crowd applauded the governor, and many residents throughout the state began registering to place their own bets. This occasion marked New Hampshire’s decision to approve a six-year contract with DraftKings, a leading online sports betting vendor, allowing anyone over the age of 18 to sign up and place a wager.

Ahead of the Curve

Since the United States Supreme Court’s decision to allow sports betting throughout the country, many states have rolled out new legislation to capitalize on the opportunity. Sports betting has already proven to be a lucrative opportunity throughout the nation, but the challenge for many states has been the ability to settle on legislation that they deem appropriate.

New Hampshire joins Rhode Island as the second state to offer sports betting in the New England region, while Massachusetts struggles to iron out issues with proposed legislation to join in on the action. Maine is also awaiting pending legislation for sports betting within the state, but in the meantime, residents will have to turn elsewhere if they are interested in placing a wager on their favorite sports team. In other areas in the northeastern United States, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have all legalized some form of sports betting. New Hampshire has set its eyes on residents of neighboring states, hoping to draw bettors from those who have yet to legalize sports betting options.

DraftKings, a Boston-based company, has exclusive rights to operate sports betting under their new contract in New Hampshire. As Massachusetts legislators flounder over the details of their sports betting laws, DraftKings hopes to open up offices in New Hampshire. In addition to the online betting that has been made available in the state, New Hampshire will also allow 10 brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. These sportsbooks could open at casinos, restaurants, or other entertainment facilities, making them popular destinations for visitors from Vermont, Massachusetts, or Maine.

Response and Projected Benefits

On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Lottery shared that more than 6,000 players had already registered, placing more than $250,000 in wagers. It was also reported that a significant number of these players were Massachusetts residents, who already have shown interest in traveling to place their wagers. The timing of the legalization is favorable, as the NFL playoffs begin this weekend, with the College Football Playoff National Championship and NCAA March Madness Tournament looming on the horizon.

Sununu is convinced that the legalization is the best decision for the state, citing the fact that revenues will help benefit education programs. New Hampshire will receive 50 percent of the revenue generated from sports betting, and officials have projected that $7 to $10 million will be generated annually to the direct benefit of educational programs. By 2023 these projections increase to $13.5 million annually.

Some concerns linger about the projected revenues, as Rhode Island fell drastically short of their $23 million projections, earning only $2.2 million in the last year. Despite these concerns, Sununu and New Hampshire officials are confident that residents of New Hampshire and bettors from neighboring states will do more than enough to help generate the expected revenues.

Governor Whitmer Signs Off on Sports Betting Legalization

Last month, the Michigan House of Representatives passed legislation for sports betting in the state, leaving it up to Governor Gretchen Whitmer to decide whether or not the bill should be finalized or vetoed. At the time, the House voted in favor of the new legislation, with a vote of 63-45, but many questions surrounding sports betting legalization still lingered. On Friday, Whitmer answered some of these questions by finalizing two bills with her signature, making Michigan the second-largest state in the Midwest to legalize sports betting, and the 20th state to do so in the nation.

Details of the new Bill

Whitmer’s decision means that both sports betting and online gaming could be available in the state within the next three months. Sports betting and internet gaming will be available to anyone resident aged 21 or older. Under the new bill, the state of Michigan can grant sports betting licenses to any business that already have a casino license. While state regulators still need to finalize requirements for offering sports betting, it is expected that brick-and-mortar locations will be available before their online counterparts. The biggest hurdle for online sports betting and gaming is finalizing a contract with an online sports betting retailer like DraftKings or FanDuel.

The recently signed legislation calls for an 8.4 percent tax on sports betting, which would be collected after winnings are paid out. On internet gaming, this tax would range between 20 and 28 percent, which is an increase from the original proposal. The taxes, which were the point of controversy when the House first proposed the bill, appear to have done enough to meet the approval of Governor Whitmer.

Questions Answered

One of the largest concerns about the bill when it was initially introduced by the House involved the tax that would be imposed. Many argued that the 8.4 percent tax with a gradual increase over time would not be enough to benefit the state. Even more concerning was the fact that the new bill could have a negative impact on the School Aid Fund, which taxes casinos to help benefit K-12 education.

After signing the bill, Whitmer was able to put some concerns at ease by touting the bill as a “real bipartisan win” for Michigan. Whitmer stated that her largest concern when considering this new legislation was the ability to protect and invest in the School Aid Fund. After examining the new bill, Whitmer felt that the new legislation does just that, and thanked Senator Curtis Hertel and Representative Rebekah Warren for their hard work and support in ensuring that students continue to benefit students throughout the state. Under the new bill, 20 to 28 percent of revenue generated from the gaming expansion will be dedicated to the School Aid Fund.

In addition to the benefit for the School Aid Fund, the new bills are expected to generate tens of millions in tax revenue. While the majority of this revenue will be benefiting students, it is expected that about $4 million of that yearly revenue will be dedicated to the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. This fund is dedicated to supporting firefighters and other first responders in the state, who contract cancer due to exposure from smoke and chemicals while on the job. The money would provide these first responders with the compensation they need to pay their medical bills.

Some still oppose the gambling expansion for the state, citing concerns for troubling gambling behaviors. Nonetheless, Michigan will move forward with the legalization and will hope to be ready to offer sports betting within the next three months, and many believe that the new legislation will offer safe, regulated gaming for residents who were previously forced to travel to neighboring states or playing on dangerous offshore websites.

Montana Edges Closer to Sports Betting Launch

In November, the Montana Lottery Commission unanimously signed off on sports betting regulations that are set to be finalized before the new year. Montana legalized sports betting through the Lottery in May in hopes of launching in time for residents to bet on the NFL season. Although the projected date has been pushed back to late this year or early 2020, the Montana Lottery Commission is prepared to launch their new sports wagering product, now being called Sports Bet Montana. In a press release issued by the commission, Lottery director Angela Wong expressed the hard work that has been taking place since May in order to help launch Sports Bet Montana.

How Sports Bet Montana Could Work

The proposed rules will allow for sports betting to take place anywhere Lottery tickets are sold; this includes bars, taverns, casinos, and other locations with the appropriate licenses. This, of course, means that these businesses would need to take the necessary steps to acquire these licenses before offering sports betting. Jennifer McKee, Montana Lottery communication manager, told local media that this means sports betting would be regulated closely, limiting the number of locations that offer sports betting to Montana residents. The Montana Lottery could begin accepting applications for licenses as early as the end of this year. Officials estimate that 1,400 locations throughout the state could qualify to apply for a license. The application for such a license would be a mere $50, which is a fraction of the cost of application fees in other parts of the country.

Montana’s sports betting bill differs from other states who offer physical sportsbook locations. Although physical locations will be applying for sports betting licenses, betting will be conducted primarily through the combination of kiosks and a mobile application. To bet, residents must be 18 years or older. As in a number of other states where sports betting has been legalized, residents would be allowed to bet on professional and collegiate sports. However, athletes, coaches, and professionals associated with these sports teams would be barred from sports betting. The newly proposed Sports Bet Montana would allow bettors to download an app on their phone, which will allow them to place sports wagers whenever they are within range of a betting kiosk. Residents can download the app and register their account remotely but would only be able to place their bets in the licensed locations either through the mobile app or through the kiosks themselves.

Kiosk Betting and More

As with any sports betting legalization, Montana hopes to generate revenue in order to fund a number of programs within the state. Lottery partners expect to collect six percent commission on every sports betting ticket sold, which is one percent more than they collect for a normal Lottery ticket. Early projections position potential revenues anywhere from $1.5 to $2.5 million for the state’s general fund. An additional $3 to $4 million is expected to be generated in order to benefit a school scholarship fund for science and technology education.

The wheels have been set in motion for the legalization of sports betting in the state of Montana, but there is still a number of obstacles to overcome. Under Montana law, the rules of sports betting must be approved by the public; the public must have a say in the publishing of the proposed Sports Bet Montana rules. The next step in the process would be for the rules to published in the Montana Administrative Register. If the new sports betting laws are passed, and prove to be successful, lawmakers could turn their attention to two other sports betting bills that have already been proposed for commercial and pari-mutuel sports betting.