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Domino effect as more states join the sports betting bonanza - EconoTimes

3rd February, 08:20

When the US Supreme Court ruled last year to strike down a 1992 Federal Law and thereby to allow each state to make its own mind up about sports betting, everyone understood that the decision was a significant one. But few could have predicted just how enthusiastically states would embrace sports betting. It's not just about the fans, either. Industry commentators predict the US sports betting market will have risen from practically nothing to around $5 billion by 2023.

Growing participation

Seven more states have passed laws to legalize sports betting over the course of 2019, and more are certain to follow suit in the months ahead, in what is seen as something of a domino effect. We will look at those in more detail in a moment, but this is only one aspect of the growing participation in sports betting.

It is worth remembering that while it might be shiny and new within the US, this is a mature and established industry in other parts of the world, particularly the UK, where the industry generates around £2 billion ($2.6. billion) per year. Keep in mind that this is in a country whose population is around 20 percent that of the USA. As such, there is also eager participation in US sports betting from existing industry players who see an opportunity to expand beyond the crowded European markets.

The internet has, of course, made this far easier than it would have been a decade or two ago. This review of the William Hill betting site demonstrates how what was once a purely physical presence in terms of gambling shops on the UK's towns and cities is now a major power online. Sports betting here has spread from sports that are traditionally popular in the UK, such as soccer, rugby and cricket, to American football, basketball, ice hockey and lots more. Taking sports betting online also adds to the type of bets that can be placed. It's no longer just a case of backing a particular team or athlete to win, there are also complex accumulators, live bets on games that are in progress and a world of other options.

Furthermore, in cyberspace, there are no national or state boundaries, so it is no surprise that sports betting companies like William Hill and other established European names are looking to establish themselves in the rapidly growing US market.

The current state of play

Legislation changes so rapidly across so many states that summarizing the current legal situation when it comes to sports betting turns into something of a moving target. At the time of writing, there are 12 states in which legal sports betting industries are up and running. These are as follows:

On top of these, however, the following states legislated in favor of legalized sports betting during 2019:

Illinois

In June 2019, the Prairie State passed a bill to legalize sports betting. However, the finalized regulatory framework has yet to be put in place to allow Illinois residents to actually place a bet in their home state. Plans to get everything in place in time for the Super Bowl in February 2020 seem ambitious, and it could be that Illinois NFL fans will still have to go across the state line into Iowa or Indiana for one more year.

Maine

A sports betting bill passed through both House and Senate back in June, but since then, the subject has gone into a state of limbo. Governor Janet Mills opted not to sign the bill, saying she needs more time to give it the necessary attention. In effect, this means it is likely to be formally passed into law at the beginning of the next legislative session in January, although Governor Mills does theoretically have the power of veto.

Montana

Montana was the first state to legalize sports betting in 2019, and at the beginning of October, it rolled out its proposed regulations and opened a period of public consultation. Here, everything will be overseen by the state lottery. Betting will take place in licensed premises such as bars and restaurants at dedicated kiosks, and although online betting from mobile devices will be possible, the software will only work when within range of these kiosks.

New Hampshire

The Granite State's sports betting legislation was passed into law in July. Given the state's proximity to Massachusetts, online betting is expected to be highly significant - just look at the number of New Yorkers who spilled across the border into New Jersey to place bets when the practice was passed there. New Hampshire's sports betting is set to be dominated by Boston-based entertainment company DraftKings in cooperation with Intralot, which runs the existing state lottery.

North Carolina

This was something of a surprise addition in 2019, as the state was not on most people's radars to legalize sports betting this year. However, the bill passed seamlessly into law in July. The legislation specifically permits sports betting at two casinos that are located on tribal land in the western part of the state. At present, there is no online sports wagering, but the state is likely to consult on this over the coming year.

Tennessee

Tennessee was another state to officially legalize sports betting in July. But that's where the similarity with others ends. This is the only state that has opted for an online-only approach. There will be no physical sportsbooks, and the state has no casinos. The legislation automatically passed despite the reservations of Governor Bill Lee and without his signature. However, little progress has been made on getting the infrastructure in place, so it will still be several months before Tennessee sports fans can start placing bets from their smartphones.

Washington DC

D.C. approved a sports betting bill in late 2018, and it officially passed into law in March. Since then, there have been some unexpected obstacles, including a Restraining Order that was struck down in October. Finally, it seems the road ahead is clear, and D.C. residents will most likely be able to place their bets, either online or at licensed premises, by the time Super Bowl LIV rolls around.

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