Category Archives: Regulation and Legal

The Lone Bettor Responsible for Changing Washington DC Sports Betting

Many people wonder how sportsbooks and sports betting operations in general could ever lose money or go out of business. After all, their profit is built into the design of their business, right? In its simplest form the answer to this question is a resounding yes, but the reality for Washington DC’s lone sports betting operator, GambetDC, is that sometimes things are not as simple as they seem.

Washington DC is unknown to most people in the sports betting world because most people are not aware sports betting exists there. In other instances, people assume that Washington DC falls under either Maryland or Virginia, where online and in-person sports betting is legal. The reality is that the tiny District of Columbia has a longstanding sports betting industry, albeit one that is fragmented, struggling financially, and antiquated. The antiquated aspect of GambetDC’s operation was exploited earlier this year by a single bettor who profited thousands and, at the same time, prompted a change in the way DC sports betting exists.

Deviations in Betting Lines Exploited

For this story to make sense, you need to know a bit more about how sports betting in Washington DC works. Similar to most states where sports betting is legal, DC sports betting can only exist within a well-defined geographic area. Making matters a bit more confusing than most states is the fact that even within DC, certain parts of the city are off limits for one reason or another. This presents a situation where sports betting might be legal on one block but not legal two streets over. Confusing as this may be, there are still plenty of restaurants, bars, and other establishments with GambetDC betting kiosks, and Abunai, a small poke restaurant, is one of them. 

This small restaurant in Northwest Washington DC was the betting headquarters of a sharp bettor who would eventually be the reason for a change in DC sports betting rules. Very quickly, the restaurant’s staff noticed a patron who was there nearly every day, but never ordered a single dish. On its face this seems strange, but no one questioned it as this bettor’s patronage was changing the restaurant’s fortunes for the better. 

The reason this anonymous bettor loved Abunai so much was because he realized that their GambetDC betting terminal (and all others like it in DC) offered betting lines that were sometimes markedly different from those found on sites like FanDuel or BetMGM. These deviations were exploited time and time again, profiting the DC bettor hundreds of thousands of dollars. Another flaw in GambetDC that allowed for this to go on for so long without any questions being raised was the anonymity associated with betting in DC. Unlike any other jurisdiction where you are forced to register and create an account when betting online or at a kiosk, GambetDC did not have such requirements. If this same situation was playing out in the online sports betting market of nearby Virginia, a bettor performing as well as the bettor in DC would have his account flagged and wagers capped. In other words, a sportsbook would limit how much a person can wager on a single event/bet. What this meant in the nation’s capital is that the anonymous DC bettor was not ever able to have his wagers capped, and he profited as a result. 

Betting Rules Changed in a Hurry

Once the D.C. Lottery’s Regulation and Oversight Division finally caught on to their old systems being exploited, they moved to quickly cap the anonymous bettor’s wagers. Not only that, they have moved to more tightly restrict the wagering limits for all bettors. If you try to place sports bets in Washington DC today, there will be a much larger and more noticeable number of restrictions in place.

Though sports betting legalization has been a boon to the bottom lines of many states’ coffers, the same cannot really be said about Washington DC. To put it simply, the sports betting industry in the District is struggling, and has been for some time now. Adding more restrictions and limits to betting is exactly what DC does not need, especially if it wants to see monthly betting revenues that exceed even $5 million.

Seminole Tribe Receive Massive Ruling from Federal Appeals Court

For those residing in Florida, the topic of legalized online sports betting–and sports betting in general–has been one no one really likes talking about. After all, for the shortest period of time bettors in Florida were able to place sports bets before legal proceedings put all betting on hold. That was back in 2021, and while Florida still does not have a legal, online sports betting system in place, the state moved one step closer to legal sports betting being a reality this week.

Just this week, a Federal Appeals Court denied a request from the owners of the state’s non-Tribal casinos and racetracks for a rehearing regarding the deal that gave full sports betting authority to Florida Native American tribes, namely the Seminole tribe.

A Deal Nearly Three Years in the Making

In 2021, Florida Governor Ron Desantis and the Florida Seminole Tribe signed a 30-year deal that would see the Seminoles be the lone offeror of sports betting in the state, online or in-person. In the Fall of 2021, with the NFL season already underway, this was a big deal because it meant that millions of sports-crazed Floridians would be able to bet on sports both in-person and from their phone. Even though Florida did not officially legalize sports betting, this deal was allowed to go forward because all bets would be processed by servers that were housed on tribal land belonging to the Seminoles.

As quickly as the deal was signed however, the owners of casinos and racetracks around the state banded together to fight it. Fight it is exactly what they did, and it did not take too long for US District Judge Dabney Friedrich to rule that the deal violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because it allowed for gambling to take place off of tribal lands. She called the idea that the deal was legitimate because the bets ran through tribal servers on tribal lands a “fiction”, and that gambling would really be taking place in all corners of Florida, not a select few hundred square miles.

The Final Blow to Non-Tribal Operators

A three-judge panel was formed to take a closer look at this situation and, back in June, ruled that Judge Dabney Friedrich was incorrect when she ruled that the deal between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act mainly because the Act allows for gambling both on and off tribal lands. In other words, it does not restrict gambling to only tribal lands.

Despite this June ruling, pari-mutuel racetrack owners and casino owners asked for a rehearing on the matter. That request was denied this week and little explanation was offered for the denial.

The Seminole Tribe released a statement saying that they were “pleased” with the ruling, but there is no immediate word on if, or rather when, they will be accepting bets on their Hard Rock Sports Betting app, which existed for a short period of time in 2021 before being turned off just before the turn of 2022. With that said, the fact that the NFL and college football seasons are well underway has many thinking that the Seminoles are going to reactivate the app and begin accepting bets again before too long.

Brazilian Soccer Betting Fraud Warrants Government Intervention

Thanks to a longstanding history of soccer betting fraud coupled with more recent actions by players, the government of Brazil is taking a closer look at the systems currently in place aimed at preventing betting scandals.

These new measures are coming in response to shocking discoveries made in May. Then, the Brazilian soccer world was rocked as it was announced that a lengthy investigation revealed a large number of players were involved with match-fixing. The fallout of that investigation is still unfolding, but it is clear that Brazil is seeking to take drastic steps in order to stamp out match-fixing of any type.

A Number of Changes Proposed

In the report released last week, which was signed by special advisor to Minister Fernando Haddad, Fernanda Cimbra Santiago, it was explained that because of “recent episodes of manipulation of results in sports betting,” the Brazilian ministry should be able to ban or suspend betting on certain events. The report pointed to both live, in-game wagering as well as wagering done before games/matches begin.

As one might expect, the report singles out leagues, competitions, and teams that have been found guilty of match-fixing, but does not neglect to mention that this oversight should be broad-reaching, covering more than those leagues and teams with a history of foul play.

A Total Ban on In-Game Betting Considered

Because many of the incidents of match-fixing came by way of live, in-game wagers, there has been some talk in Brazil that sportsbooks should ban live betting entirely, even if only for certain teams and competitions.

This does not seem likely to happen, however, as live betting makes up almost a quarter of revenue for Brazilian sportsbooks. If the ministry that oversees betting and betting regulation wishes to continue making money, live betting must continue to exist, and exist in abundance. This is where things become more difficult to manage. While most countries in Europe and South America have an abundance of leagues upon which people can place wagers, few have more leagues than Brazil. Because the umbrella of “professional soccer player” is one that encompasses thousands of people, only a fraction of them make significant money. As a result, the temptation to participate in match-fixing in order to make extra money is a very real one. How this can be changed or remedied is anyone’s guess, but further scrutiny of wagering activity is certainly a good place to start.

A more sensible suggestion that was made relates to sportsbooks requirements to report suspicious wagering activity to the appropriate authorities within a 5-day period of time. This reporting is typically followed by most sportsbooks in Brazil and across the world, but it is not presently something Brazilian sportsbooks are required to do by law.

There is little known about where Brazilian authorities will land with changes regarding how they regulate betting on Brazilian soccer, but it is evident that this is no small issue for the soccer-loving country and their lawmakers.

The Latest on Sports Betting in Ohio

Since the overall ban on sports betting was struck down in the United States many years ago, a plethora of states have quickly moved to both legalize the activity and implement both online and in-person betting operations. Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey all come to mind when thinking of states the passed legislation and began accepting bets in what seemed like the blink of an eye.

On the other side of the coin however, there are states like Ohio and Maryland, both of which passed legalized sports betting legislation without too much trouble but still, to this day, have not accepted a single online wager. Maryland recently moved to allow casinos and racetracks to accept in-person wagering, but Ohio has been treading water for the better part of a year now. Finally, there seems to be light at the tunnel for Buckeye state sports bettors.

Online Betting in Time for Super Bowl 57?

Online sports betting was officially legalized in Ohio last December, but Ohioans have been waiting nearly three quarters of a year without receiving much guidance with regard to when bets can be placed. This week it was announced that online sports betting in Ohio will be live in January of 2023, meaning that bettors should be able to place wagers on both the collegiate football National Championship as well as the NFL’s Super Bowl.

Bettors will be greeted by a number of online operators, but it seems that in-person sports betting will be a major deal in Ohio as well. Just this week, it was reported that Kroger’s, a national grocery store that has a massive presence in Ohio, has applied for more than 40 betting licenses. According to reports, the grocer outlet is going to set up betting kiosks inside their stores, meaning you can both shop for food for the game and bet on the game all in one location.

What About Maryland?

The news this week is great for residents of Ohio, but for Marylanders it comes as a sort of slap in the face. While Ohio legalized sports betting less than a year ago, Maryland is going on nearly two years since sports betting legislation was passed. That bill was signed into law back in November of 2020 and even though sports betting is now legal at the state’s few casinos, online betting is still shrouded in mystery.

We wish we could convey some good news with regard to a projected starting date for online sports betting in Maryland, but there is no concrete date set. The going estimation is that online sports betting will go live in the second half of 2022, however we are already more than halfway through the second half of the year and there is no end to the waiting in sight.

On the bright side, Marylanders can expect up to 50 mobile betting operators to exist in the state, a number that dwarfs most other states with legal online betting.

Federal Regulators Approve Florida Sports Betting Compact

On Friday, Federal regulators allowed the controversial gambling agreement between the state of Florida and the Seminole tribe to take effect. With the approval from the feds, sports betting in the state can now begin taking bets as early as October 15, assuming the deal can successfully navigate the many hurdles that remain. The deal has received a lot of criticism from officials throughout the state, including scrutiny in the form of lawsuits. Now, a number of challenges stand between the proposed sportsbooks and the launch of sports betting in the Sunshine State.

The Deal and the Controversy

The deal under question was ratified by legislators and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. in May. The compact was the result of tireless efforts from law makers and gaming enthusiasts who have been pushing for some form of gaming expansion in the state over the past few years. Under the deal, anyone over the age of 21 will be able to place online wagers on sporting events through online sportsbooks or mobile applications. Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks would also be permitted at existing Seminole casinos, which currently operate on reservation lands.

Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and Florida law, all gambling in the state must be conducted on reservation land. The new compact, however, would bypass this law by giving the Seminole tribe control over the servers that would be handling all the mobile and online sports wagers. With online and mobile sports betting, bettors would be able to place their bets remotely, even from the comfort of their own homes. In return for complete control over sports betting, the Seminole tribe will guarantee at least $500 million in annual revenue payments to the state for the next 30 years.

Under the new compact, sports betting can begin in October. At that time, the tribe will be able to take sports bet at the six casinos located on their tribal lands. In addition to these brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, Florida’s existing racetracks and jai-alai frontons will be given permission to develop their own mobile sportsbook apps and conduct their own sports betting using the Tribe’s servers.

The deal has caused quite the stir, as it gives the Seminole tribe complete control over sports betting through a questionable loophole in the law. So far, the deal is already facing a lawsuit that is pending in federal court. Additionally, there are at least two ballot initiatives that have been launched in an attempt to counteract the deal, offering alternative sports betting options and blocking some of the expansion of casino games. Despite these hurdles, the Department of Interior did not lend their voice to the rising concerns surrounding the compact.

The Seal of Approval

The Department of Interior officially released a 12-page letter outlining their opinion of the State’s controversial deal with the Seminole tribe on Friday. The letter revealed that the department will neither approve nor deny the compact. Yet the letter went on to state that “the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and existing Federal law.” The letter is expected to be published in the Federal Register sometime next week, making the compact effective immediately after.

Bryn Newland, principal deputy assistant secretary of Indian Affairs, shared that the department’s decision should come as no surprise given the way that evolving technologies have spurred the growth of sports betting throughout the United States. Other states have faced similar questions about where betting should be permitted, given the fact that mobile wagers open the door for bettors to place their bets on land that was not previously set aside for gambling. Newland noted that many states have already enacted laws that deem a bet to have occurred at the location of the servers, meaning that Florida’s new compact would not be in violation of any existing laws.

Challenges Ahead

The Department of Interior may have paved the way for the deal to finally bring sports betting to Florida this October, but not without a catch. The department raised a few minor concerns with the compact, as detailed in the letter they released. The first of these is that the department does not support the idea that the Seminole tribe should contract with “Qualified Pari-mutuel Permitholders” in order to provide marketing for the Tribe’s sportsbook. The department was also critical of the deal’s handling of tort remedies for patrons, claiming that the proposed processes for handling patron disputes could not be upheld under the state’s existing laws.

Among those questioning the compact are some of the industry’s leading sports betting companies, including Las Vegas Sands, FanDuel, and DraftKings. The trio of gaming giants have put millions of dollars into various ballot efforts to influence the direction of sports and casino gambling in the Sunshine State. Las Vegas Sands is working to get voter approval on three new casinos, while also expanding card rooms to offer casino games. Meanwhile FanDuel and DraftKings have been working on a constitutional amendment that would allow voters to vote in favor of alternative sports betting options other than the ones made possible through the State’s deal with the Seminole tribe.

A sports betting expansion remains a priority for lawmakers and officials throughout the state, however many are fearful that if the compact could give the Seminole tribe a monopoly in an industry where everyone wants a piece of the pot. Even if the compact makes it to launch without facing significant challenges in court, it is possible that other challenges could still lie ahead.

Louisiana Approves First Fantasy Sports License

On Thursday, the Louisiana Gaming Control Board approved DraftKings as the first fantasy sports betting company to do business in the state. The license approval has been a long time coming as the Bayou State has been working on introducing sports betting for years. DraftKings officials were ecstatic about the decision, working to go live within 24 hours of the board’s unanimous approval. The launch is a step in the right direction for sports betting in the state, and is a sign of things to come, as other companies prepare to have their licenses approved. The launch of fantasy sports is a timely one, as Louisiana also plans to introduce other forms of sports betting later this year.

Fantasy Sports with Draft Kings

Now that DrafKings’ license has been approved, the company is set to launch their renowned fantasy sports products for residents within the state. Fantasy sports differs from traditional sports betting and online sportsbooks. Instead of placing wagers on moneylines, spreads, futures, or prop bets, fans will access the DraftKings app or website to create their own rosters and compete against other players in a variety of sports. The most popular example of fantasy sports betting would be fantasy football with the National Football League. With DraftKings fantasy sports, residents of Louisiana will be able to play over an entire season, or a single day of games in the sport of their choice, including baseball, basketball, football, or even a golf tournament.

The introduction of fantasy sports betting is the first step for the Bayou State into the world of sports betting. As DraftKings becomes the first to receive a license to operate, a number of competitors are waiting to leave their mark on the gaming landscape. While Louisiana has welcomed a variety of gaming options for years, the introduction of fantasy sports and sports betting marks a significant shift that will inevitably have an impact on the state’s gaming revenue.

The Path to Fantasy Sports Betting

Louisiana is currently home to 13 riverboat casinos, which have provided an enticing gaming option for residents, as well as a tourist attraction for people throughout the United States. However, the state has recently felt the pressure to expand their gaming options, as southern states like Mississippi, Georgia, and Alabama have legalized or proposed sports betting legislation. Since the Supreme Court’s decision in 2018 to overturn the ban on sports betting, the industry has gained significant traction throughout the country, generating millions in revenue. Louisiana voters were quick to approve fantasy sports betting, as voters in 47 parishes voted to approve fantasy sports betting in November 2018, but despite the early vote to approve sports betting it has taken years for tangible sports betting to materialize.

Now that fantasy sports are set to launch, officials are setting lofty revenue goals. Gaming experts have shared that the industry could produce as much as $15.5 million in net revenue in the first year of operations. Out of that figure, nearly $1.3 million in tax revenue would go directly to the state. In the coming years, it is expected that Louisiana will continue to expand sports betting in the state. With this expansion, officials estimate that the market could fall between $2 billion and $2.6 billion over the next decade.

Looking to Expand Beyond Fantasy Sports

DraftKings isn’t the only industry leader set to launch fantasy sports in Louisiana. Earlier this year FanDuel submitted an application to the gaming board to begin operating fantasy sports options of their own, hoping to go live before the upcoming NFL season. Daily fantasy sports are just the first step for sports betting in Louisiana, as both DraftKings and FanDuel hope that their platforms will help build a strong customer base before other forms sports betting begins later this year.

Louisiana has yet to launch any brick-and-mortar or online sportsbooks within the state, but the approval of DraftKings fantasy sports license could suggest that a physical or online presence for the industry-leading sports betting company could become a reality in the future. The company has already branded sportsbook wagering at 13 casinos throughout the United States, so the transition to a physical presence in Louisiana would be a smooth one. DraftKings also has a partnership with Casino Queen, who has already announced their intentions to buy the Belle of Baton Rouge and Hollywood Casino Baton Rouge, opening the door for a DraftKings sportsbook once that deal is done. With such a strong foothold in the industry, as well as the state, it is likely that online and brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will successfully launch later this year.

Ohio Sports Betting Bill Introduced by Senate Republicans

On Thursday, Ohio senators proposed a sports betting bill that could bring a wave of sports betting options to Ohio residents in the near future. Ohio Senator Kirk Schuring introduced Senate Bill 176 during a press conference on Thursday afternoon, outlining the details of the bill which has taken months of planning and preparation. The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming worked tirelessly to create what many state Senators believe is a comprehensive plan for rolling out sports betting in the Buckeye State. Supporters of the bill are now hopeful that legislation could be passed as early as this summer.

Details of the Bill

The proposed bill offers 40 three-year sports betting licenses; 20 of these licenses would be offered to applicants who have an existing brick-and-mortar gambling operation, such as the 11 casinos and racinos already operating in the state. These existing locations would be given permission to use their licenses to partner with popular online and mobile application sports betting companies like DraftKings or FanDuel. The proposed legislation would limit any given entity to five online licenses, to prevent them from gaining too much control over the industry within the state.

The remaining 20 licenses would be reserved for in-person sports betting operations. These licenses are called type B licenses and could be awarded to casinos, sports bars, and other locations. Professional sports teams in the state would also be allowed to apply for a license, giving them the opportunity to open live sportsbooks within their stadiums and professional venues. Other states have made similar decisions, opening the door for professional teams throughout the country to begin offering sports betting at live events.

The Senate’s proposal calls for the Ohio Casino Control Commission to regulate sports betting in the state. The Commission would also be responsible for imposing a 10% tax on all sports betting, directing the revenue toward both public and private schools, as well as gambling addiction services. The 40 available sports betting licenses come with a $1 million a-piece price tag, and the revenue generated from these would be directed to the same avenues as the tax revenue.

Pressure from Neighboring States

Since the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in 2018, more than half the states in the country have legalized or proposed sports betting legislation. In fact, every state neighboring Ohio, with the exception of Kentucky, has already legalized some form of sports betting. This has left many officials in the state of Ohio feeling as if they’re missing out on the action. Now that a proposal has materialized, it seems as though Ohio has taken inspiration from other states to help offer legal sports betting.

Schuring, who is responsible for crafting much of the Senate’s proposal, suggested that the bill is needed to prevent illegal sports betting from growing within the state. As more and more states legalize sports betting, states like Ohio become more susceptible to illegal gambling practices. Schuring feels that a well-structured proposal like his addresses these concerns and gives lawmakers the opportunity to take immediate action to help stop illegal practices, while also generating revenue for important programs in the state.

Time is of the Essence

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has already publicly shared that legal sports betting in the state is “inevitable.” DeWine has also acknowledged that Ohio does face a challenge when dealing with illegal sports gambling, meaning that sports betting legislation could be coming sooner rather than later. After reviewing Schuring’s proposal, House Speaker Bob Cupp shared that the goal is to make a decision about the bill before they recess on June 1st.

Before the decision is made, however, there are still a number of concerns that need to be addressed. Since the proposal was announced, 14 of the state’s public universities have asked lawmakers to exempt collegiate sports from gambling in the state. If officials are able to come to a consensus, sports betting could be available by Jan. 1st. There is the chance that the passing of sports betting legislation could face a legal challenge for violating the Ohio Constitution’s ban on gambling. However, given the support and the momentum the bill has gained, it seems that some form of sports betting will be arriving in Ohio in the very near future.

Wyoming Lawmakers Move Forward with Sports Betting

A bill that could bring legal sports betting to the state of Wyoming is making its way through the House and Senate and many believe Wyoming residents to place wagers within the year. On Monday, Wyoming HB 133 passed in the Senate after receiving a 24-5-1 approval vote. The Cowboy State is typically known for its rural landscape, scenic views, and breathtaking national parks. Now Wyoming, like many other states in the country, is looking to capitalize on the budding sports betting industry.

A Bump in the Road

Wyoming’s sports betting bill has already faced a number of challenges, but it has made some significant progress after a relatively rocky start. Earlier this month, the House voted against the bill, leaving many doubtful about sports betting’s immediate future in the state. However, Rep. Landon Brown, a bill co-sponsor, called for a reconsideration vote and promised to answer any lingering questions that officials had about the proposal. Initial concerns about the bill were related to whether or not the state’s tribes would have the opportunity to voice their opinion about introducing a new form of gambling revenue into the fold. In a somewhat miraculous turnaround, the reconsideration vote passed by a count of 32-28, as representatives vowed to give tribes a voice in the new legislation.

After passing in the House, the bill progressed seemingly unopposed through the Senate Appropriations Committee and also the full Senate. A few minor amendments were made to address some concerns surrounding gaming license applicants, like those that were brought to the table regarding the state’s tribes contributing to the new legislation. Now that the bill has passed in the Senate, it will face two more votes before being forwarded to Gov. Mark Gordon. Many believe that in the coming months lawmakers will be able to iron out the rules and guidelines for legal sports betting, with residents placing wagers before the new year.

Details of the Bill

Wyoming’s sports betting bill is unique in that it exclusively offers online sports gambling. Under the bill, anyone over the age of 18 would be able to place wagers on their favorite sports teams. The Wyoming Gaming Commission will be responsible for regulating all online sports betting, which could launch as early as July 1. In a recent committee hearing, Wyoming Gaming Commission Director Charles Moore stated that a more realistic launch date would be September 1.

Bettors in the state could have access to a minimum of five sportsbook operators. In order to be considered for a license to operate in Wyoming, applicants must have active sportsbooks in at least three other states. To operate, sportsbooks must pay a $100,000 new permit fee, with a $50,000 renewal fee. All sports betting revenue would be taxed at a rate of 10%, and the revenue generated would go toward the state’s general fund and county health programs. Early estimates from the Gaming Commission suggest that the sports betting market in the state could bring in nearly $450 million annually.

Existing Gambling Laws

Those opposed to the bill argue that the introduction of sports betting could lead to significant gambling addiction in harm, while others believe the pros outweigh the cons. Sen. Jeff Wasserburger, R-Gillette was quoted in the Star Tribune suggesting that the introduction of a legal sports betting market could help mitigate issues surrounding the black market of sports betting. Others noted that the bill does more than enough to help address gambling addiction, by directing revenue toward gambling addiction programs.

As states throughout the country continue to roll out sports betting legislation, Wyoming residents may be turning elsewhere to place wagers on their favorite sporting events. Neighboring states, including Colorado and Montana, have already embraced sports betting, causing residents from Wyoming to cross state lines to place wagers. Many lawmakers in Wyoming view this as revenue waiting to be had and are looking to capitalize with this new bill.

Wyoming is already home to a number of legal gambling activities, including blackjack and poker rooms, as well as racetracks and pari-mutuel wagering. In the near future, Wyoming lawmakers hope to add online sports betting to that list.

Multiple Sports Betting Bills Move Through Arizona House and Senate

Sports and gambling enthusiasts in Arizona have a reason to be hopeful, as two separate bills for sports betting legislation are now moving through both the House and Senate. Arizona is one of many states working to pass new sports betting legislation, as the United States continues to welcome what has become a booming industry, after the Supreme Court lifted the ban on sports betting in 2018. In Arizona, this legislation presents a unique challenge, as it needs to overcome a number of hurdles associated with the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts established in 2002. Despite these hurdles, many believe the opportunity to place wagers at Atlanta Braves’ Chase Field or at the Phoenix Suns’ Suns Arena could become a reality in the very near future.

The Tribal-State Gaming Compacts

Arizona has the most Native American land in the United States. This land makes up about 27% of the land in the state, a total of more than 20 million acres. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), a federal law, gives tribes in the state the opportunity to operate casinos on these lands. The law permits gambling on Indian reservations through compacts established between the tribes and the state. There are 16 tribes in the state, and they are responsible for operating 22 casinos. All gaming revenue is required to be used for tribal governmental and charitable ventures only. Now lawmakers are weighing options for introducing sports betting into the fold.

Gambling in the state of Arizona has been limited to tribal casinos, horse and dog racing, and the official state lottery. Gambling is regulated by the state and is illegal at locations that have not been designated by the state. The Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compacts of 2002 established rules for tribes to operate casinos on tribal lands. At the time, sports betting was prohibited throughout the state, but much has changed since then.

Two Bills with a Common Goal

The two major bills that are moving through the House and Senate are HB 2772 and SB 1797. The bills both propose event wagering and online sports betting, with up to 10 tribes and 10 professional teams licensed to provide online betting platforms. Both of these bills would open the door for online sports betting options like FanDuel or Draft Kings, and they would give fans the opportunity to place wagers at major professional sporting events. There are currently eight professional sports teams in Arizona, including franchises in the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA.

The proposed legislation is similar to the many other plans that states across the country have rolled out, as the sports betting industry continues to grow. For example, the Washington Nationals recently announced their plans to open the first sportsbook in an MLB stadium. Many believe that these are the first steps toward a nationwide shift in the way Americans view sports betting, opening the door for many to follow the lead.

Challenges on the Path Ahead

There is still some speculation surrounding the number of licenses these bills could issue. The most confusing point of contention is that the bills allow for 10 licenses for professional teams, when there are only 8 professional teams in the state. On the other hand, the proposed legislation would only allow 10 licenses for the 16 tribes within the state. While both bills are progressing, through the House and Senate, they have faced their fair share of challenges and even more lie ahead.

HB 2772 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Weninger (R.) of LD 17 Chandler, Sun Lakes, and Gilbert. Weninger believes that this bill will do wonders to modernize gaming in the state and it will do so with the support of Gov. Doug Ducey. SB 1797 was already pulled and added as an amendment to a previous horse racing bill. After passing on a 5-4 party line vote, it moves to another vote on March 10. The current bill, which is now 1794, finds itself up against an old foe, in the form of the 2002 gaming compact between the tribes and the state. Many feel that the compact would have to be renegotiated in order for this bill to pass.

It is too early to tell whether or not either of these bills will be passed, but so far HB 2772 has gained the most traction. Once approved by the House, this bill would then go to the Senate for a vote. At the earliest, residents of Arizona could see sports betting in 2022. At this time, complications surrounding tribal gaming compacts seem to be the biggest threat to the passing of either bill. As it stands, the tribes pay roughly 8% of their casino revenue to the state. If the sports gambling bills pass, that number would decrease. The month of March will reveal whether or not either bill has the legs to move forward.

Sports Betting To Finally Launch In Michigan

Residents of Michigan may be noticing an increase in sports betting advertisements from companies such as FanDuel, DraftKings, and other top sports betting platforms. Offers such as free sign up bonuses mark the introduction of legal sports gambling to the state.

Next Steps

A year ago, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to legalize sports gambling and online betting in Michigan. Under the new legislation, sportsbooks have had to seek individual partnerships with brick-and-mortar casinos across the state. This may account for the long wait residents have had to endure before they can place their first legal sports bets in the state. Last month, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules waived the 15-day review requirement for approval of the final rules regulating online gaming. It is now up to the platforms themselves to obtain official licensing and launch to bring online sports betting to Michigan. Residents will have to continue to wait for an official launch date from the Michigan Gaming Control Board. According to Executive Director Richard Kalm, the official launch date will depend on how quickly the major platforms can come under the state’s regulatory requirements. “The platform providers’ ability to meet the requirements of the laws and rules will determine which entities can be licensed for launch first,” he said.

Residents of the state can expect a similar sports betting experience to other states in the U.S. that have legalized the practice. Residents will need to be over the age of 21 to place a legal sports bet. Platforms will also utilize geolocation technology and identity verification to ensure that bettors are in compliance with state law. Once the platforms are licensed, they will offer wagers on all professional and college sporting events from soccer to baseball and basketball. The sports betting legislation provides for dedicated revenue from the practice to the state’s School Aid Fund and the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. An 8.4% tax will be placed on winnings from retail sports bets and a range from 20% to 28% on all online sports wagers.

A Potential Revenue Builder

Initial projections show a huge revenue boost for the state which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 health restrictions and related shutdowns. The three commercial casinos in the state are currently closed in accordance with health guidelines. The tribal casinos in Michigan are not required to adhere to those same health guidelines however, two have voluntarily closed down. The three commercial casinos, MGM, MotorCity, and Greektown, were operating under reduced capacity prior to the most recent closures. As of the year end, the revenues for all three were down roughly 54% from the same period last year.

In states where sports gambling is already legal, the data reflects that patrons are utilizing the freedom to place their bets online, in the face of casino closures. In states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania sports gambling has made up 43% and 28% respectively of all gambling revenue. Industry experts expect that Michigan could experience a similar boost once it gets its own sports betting industry up and running.