Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting on May 14, three states – Delaware, New Jersey, and Mississippi – have launched legal sportsbooks.
And four more states – West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and Rhode Island – have already passed similar legislation, with regulatory red tape the only thing standing in the way of bettors and legal sports betting.
But that list is expected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next year, with Indiana and Kentucky now the most likely candidates to join the sports betting party.
During the 2018 session, state senator Jon Ford (R-38) and state representative Alan Morrison (R-42) authored a pair of bills that mimicked the language used in other states. Those bills sought to authorize the legalization of sports betting, provided the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 was repealed or amended.
The PASPA, a federal ban that previously limited sport betting to Nevada, was indeed repealed altogether this May, by virtue of a 6-3 decision by the Court.
But while other states were getting ahead of the sports betting regulation game, the Indiana Legislature decided to pump the brakes. Rather than pass either bill, lawmakers there opted to use a summer “study session” to further analyze the import of legalizing sportsbooks.
To effect that study, the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) has hired the Eilers & Krejcik Gaming LLC to perform a comprehensive analysis of the state’s sports betting prospects.
But while that timeline puts legalization at 2020 at the earliest, both Ford and Morrison aren’t content to wait that long.
Morrison told the Indiana Business Journal that, while the study is certainly a welcome development, he’ll be moving forward on his bill after the November elections bring on a new legislative session:
“Knowledge is power, and it’s good to identify as much data ahead of time as we can.
But we’re moving forward this session.”
Morrison’s previous bill included revenue projections that tabbed Indiana’s expected economic boost at between $3.1 million and $18.8 million annually, provided a tax rate of 9.25 percent is imposed.
The revenue estimates are even rosier in Kentucky, where lawmakers predict an infusion of between $5 million and $60 million in annual gaming taxes.
State senators Julie Adams (R-36) and Morgan McGarvey (D-19), along with State House Representative Jason Nemes (R-33), have introduced the state’s latest draft bill looking to legalize sports betting. A similar bill was floated in 2017, but failed to gain traction among lawmakers.
McGarvey told the local WAVE-3 NBC news outlet that sports betting regulation should be a priority because Kentuckians are already placing wagers, even while the state receives no economic benefit:
“Getting sports gaming here is something we need to do because it will provide needed revenue and it’s money people are already spending anyway.
What we’re doing is we’re bringing it out of the shadows from the bookies and we’re bringing it into a more respectable regulated way that also gives the state some money.”
Nemes couched the issue in terms of consumer protection, pledging to assist local gamblers who may not have adequate resources when dealing with underground bookies:
“We want to be able to identify gamblers and get them help.
While we think it’s a good thing to bring to Kentucky because of a lot of reasons, revenue stream, liberty and those types of things, we do recognize it does have some bad components as well so we want to address those at the front end.”
The legislative session in both states will begin in January of 2019, following the upcoming midterm elections.