2021 Sports Betting Recap: Update on the 5 States Approved So Far

2021 Sports Betting Recap: Update on the 5 States Approved So Far article feature image
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Mary Altaffer-Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Five states have already approved major sports betting laws in the first few months of 2021. Here’s what to expect from each state and when bettors should be able to place their first wagers.

New York

The biggest 2021 sports betting prize approved statewide mobile wagering as part of its upcoming budget but did so with an unprecedented market structure that’s already confusing industry stakeholders.

The New York government will accept bids for two separate “platform providers” that between them must have at least four customer-facing sportsbook brands. The legislation’s language doesn’t make it clear if these so-called platform providers will be sportsbook brands, sportsbook parent companies, technology providers or any wide range of other options.

Though the winning bidders, and many other details, are not yet known, sports bettors know this structure will leave out at least some major brands, a disappointment to many New Yorkers that can already bet via their mobile devices with more than 20 separate operators in New Jersey.

Projected Launch: Officials hope the first mobile bets are placed before next year’s Super Bowl, but the long bidding and regulatory review process in New York’s sports betting plan could make that a difficult timeline to reach.

Arizona

After months of legislative back-and-forth, Arizona policymakers reached a deal that will bring more than a dozen online and retail sportsbooks to the desert, possibly before the end of the year.

Gov. Doug Ducey, the state’s gaming tribes, professional sports organizations and leading sportsbooks such as DraftKings, FanDuel and BetMGM worked for months on a deal that will allow not only statewide mobile wagering but some of the nation’s first in-stadium retail sportsbooks. Political differences threatened the legislation, but a late breakthrough pushed the bill out of the legislature and on to Ducey’s desk earlier this week.

Projected Launch: Lawmakers said earlier this month they’re working on a launch by football season 2021. Several operators already have deals in place, meaning a quick turnaround for at least some stadium, tribal and online sportsbooks are plausible — if not likely — in the next few months.

Maryland

Voters overwhelmingly backed legal sports betting on a 2020 ballot measure. The only question was how lawmakers would create the market in 2021.

On the last day of the legislative sessions, Maryland approved a bill that will allow retail sportsbooks at stadiums, casinos and as many as 30 other venues. An additional 60 statewide mobile licenses will also be available for not just gaming interests, but a wide range of bars, restaurants and other entities.

Projected Launch: Maryland’s established gaming facilities including their six commercial casinos and two major horse tracks could see their retail and even online sportsbooks launch by policymaker’s Sept. 1 target date. Sportsbooks at stadiums as well as the myriad additional small businesses and other establishments could take longer, but Marylanders should see a plethora of additional betting options by 2022.

South Dakota

Like Maryland, South Dakota voters approved legal wagering on their 2020 ballots. Unlike Maryland, they’ll have no legal online options.

South Dakota lawmakers’ 2021 sports betting regulation bill restricts bets to casinos in the historic gaming town of Deadwood, as well as certain sovereign tribal lands. Mobile proponents had floated statewide authorization, but the potential political and likely legal challenges sidelined those efforts.

Projected Launch: Regulators typically can approve, test and license retail sportsbooks more quickly than their online counterparts, sparking hopes bettors can place bets at Deadwood and Native American casinos by fall 2021.

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Wyoming

Arguably the most surprising 2021 sports betting state, Wyoming will join Tennessee as one of only two states with statewide mobile wagering and no brick-and-mortar affiliation (or “tethering”) requirement. In fact, retail sportsbooks are still not permitted under Wyoming’s 2021 law.

Wyoming requires operators to have launched in at least three other markets, which along with the nation’s smallest population, could dissuade some brands. However, the law’s overall flexibility should attract some major names, possibly including PointsBet, whose American headquarters are in neighboring Colorado.

Projected Launch: Like their aforementioned counterparts on this list, Wyoming officials hope to get online sports betting live by the fall football season, perennially sportsbooks’ most lucrative time of year.

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