There was no waiting for the ballots to be counted in the four states where legal sports gambling or other gambling law changes were on the ballot. The measures passed in Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota and Louisiana on Tuesday.
If only the U.S. presidential election was this clear cut, eh?
This brings the number of states that have entered (or are about to enter) the legalized U.S. sports gambling community to 23 since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act more than 2 ½ years ago.
In Maryland, the ballot choice was known as “Question II” and was worded: “Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education?’
A separate question dealt with how the revenue would be allocated.
Maryland has six commercial casinos, so a retail presence would be expected.
‘We’re thrilled that Marylanders voted Yes on Question 2, a critical step to bringing legal sports betting to the state. We look forward to continuing to work with Maryland lawmakers and officials to develop a consumer-centric sports betting framework that will provide much-needed revenue for public education while pulling bettors off of the illegal market,” said Griffin Finan, Vice President for Government Affairs for DraftKings.
With voters favoring the measure 2-to-1, the Republican governor and Democratic-controlled assembly now must figure out which companies could apply for licenses, how patrons would place bets, and the government vig — how much of a cut the state would take.
The mid-Atlantic region is already loaded with sports gambling operators working in New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.
“We were delighted to see that constituents in four different states voted to pass sports betting initiatives last night,” FanDuel spokesman Kevin Hennessey said. “FanDuel looks forward to working in close cooperation with each state’s legislators and regulatory commissions to implement the highest standards of legal and responsible sports gaming in accordance with the will of the voters in those states.”
In Louisiana, where counties are known as “parishes,” the measure was on ballots on a parish-by-parish basis.
That state’s constitution restricts certain forms of gambling, but allows parish-level voter referendums on specific gaming expansions if approved by a majority of both houses of the legislature and the governor. Lawmakers in the Republican-controlled legislature overwhelmingly supported the sports betting referendum, and Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards approved it for the 2020 ballot.
The legislation behind the referendum did little to explain sports betting beyond placing it on the ballot and granting oversight to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board, which already regulates the state’s casinos. A “yes” vote meant sports betting could be “permitted” within that parish; a “no” vote meant there can be no legal “sports wagering activities” within parish lines.
All 12 parishes in the New Orleans metro area separately approved a proposition to allow sports betting. State laws and regulations would still have to be created, including how the new revenue is taxed, before sports betting becomes available in each parish. But Louisiana is clearly a state where a retail sports gambling component will be happening.
“We do have eventual market access to the state of Louisiana – subject to enabling legislation and regulatory approvals – thanks to the deal we struck with Penn National Gaming,” said Patrick Eichner, a spokesman for PointsBet Sportsbook.
In South Dakota, the state’s federally recognized Native American tribes should be able to open sportsbooks at their gaming properties. Voters overwhelmingly supported sports betting, approving “Amendment B” by a roughly 58% – 42% margin.
The ballot measure amends the South Dakota state constitution to permit sports betting, but lawmakers will still need to pass follow-up legislation early next year which would allow all of the state’s tribal casinos to take their first bets sometime in 2021. The state constitution only permits commercial gaming in the city of Deadwood’s 25 casinos, but online sports betting backers may argue statewide mobile wagering is permissible as long as the computer servers are located in Deadwood, the city known for its gold-rush history.
In Nebraska, whether the approval of traditional gambling (roulette, craps, etc.) at the state’s six horse-racing tracks will also allow for sports gambling is unclear. The state where the Cornhuskers play does not currently allow Daily Fantasy Sports, and the ballot measures from Tuesday were aimed at dissuading Nebraskans from crossing state lines to play casino-style games.
Making the leap to legalized sports betting would presumably come next, but for now Nebraska stays closed to sports wagering until there is more clarity through the state legislature.
“Regarding Nebraska and South Dakota, it is great to see states look to legalized sports betting as a smart and sustainable method for helping local economies,” Eichner said.