Some States Don’t Want Sports Betting … For Now

Written By J.R. Duren on May 14, 2018
Sports Betting

For Ravens, Saints, and Thunder fans, making a legal bet on your teams may not happen for a long time.

Last month, lawmakers in Maryland, Louisiana and Oklahoma axed the sports betting sections of new gambling bills that would’ve gone into effect in the event that the Supreme Court of the United States decided in favor of New Jersey’s appeal that the states be allowed to create and enact sports betting legislation.

All three states are home to professional sports franchises but they’re on both ends of the political spectrum – Maryland the blue and Oklahoma/Louisiana the red.

The story in Oklahoma

Most bills that go through the legislative process start out in a committee, then head to the House and, finally, the Senate.

Gambling-related laws typically find favor in either the House or Senate, but since both bodies have to approve, they end up dead multiple times before they make it through. Once they get the approval of the House and Senate, they go to the governor’s desk.

Lawmakers in the Sooner state were happy to pass a gambling bill earlier this month that addressed a variety of gambling issues. However, an add-on piece of legislation that would’ve allowed sports betting pending the Supreme Court decision didn’t make it through.

There are many theories as to why sports betting died in this most recent attempt, particularly considering that a 10% tax would’ve applied to revenue, bringing in a decent stream of cash for the state.

  • One major factor here is the state’s First Nation tribes; they don’t want to deal with competition that an influx of sportsbooks would bring.
  • Another factor that could be at stake is the conservative nature of the state – sports betting is a little too ‘sinny’ for lawmakers’ stomachs.

That second possibility is less likely, mainly because those same lawmakers voted to expand gambling for casinos in the state.

What went down in Maryland

In Maryland, things were looking good for sports betting after the House passed the bill 124-14. Blowout wins like this are common and usually aren’t so decisive when the Senate votes. And, that was the case in the Old Line State.

The Senate chose not to vote on the bill before they closed up shop for the year, which means the next time a vote can take place is January 2019. By then, there’s a good chance that sports betting could be legal and functioning in multiple states.

Louisiana bill fails

On Tuesday, a bill to legalize sports betting in Louisiana parishes was shot down 6-3 by the Louisiana Senate Finance Committee. Several committee members expressed concerns about the negative effects of gambling expansion — even though a daily fantasy sports bill advanced through the Louisiana House on the same day. Senator Danny Martiny, the bill’s sponsor, worries that his state will fall behind neighboring states, potentially losing out on a lot of tourism.

“I’m not saying this is the cure all for everything but I’m telling you right now that we will lose customers and money if Mississippi and Arkansas have sports betting and we don’t,” Martiny said.

Mississippi already passed legislation to legalize sports betting if given authority by the U.S. Supreme Court. Arkansas passed daily fantasy sports legislation in 2017 but has not introduced a sports betting bill.

What this means for a post-PASPA world

There’s a perception out there that a SCOTUS decision in favor of New Jersey that repeals PASPA will unleash a 50-state cavalcade of sports-betting bill passages.

However, the recent failures of sports betting bills in these three states indicate that eradicating PASPA may not mean that every state allows sports betting.

In some states where tribal communities are home to the state’s only casinos, expanding sports betting could be seen as a threat and, therefore, reason to lobby against opening books off reservation land.

In other more conservative states like Utah, a conservative push could stymie bills and mire sports betting in endless cycles of committee meetings, House votes, and Senate shoot-downs.

While recent polling indicates that the American public is, for the first time in decades, supportive of sports gambling, things could be much more complex on a state-by-state basis.


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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has written for a wide variety of publications, both online and print, including Snooth, the Villages Daily Sun, Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, and Barcelona Metropolitan. He has thrice been recognized as a winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest.

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