7 States With 2021 Sports Betting Hopes Start Legislative Sessions This Week

7 States With 2021 Sports Betting Hopes Start Legislative Sessions This Week article feature image

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Several state legislatures will begin their respective 2021 sessions Monday and all 50 will do so in the coming weeks. Of those, as many as two dozen are set to consider sports betting and other gaming measures.

Here are seven states that will begin their sessions this week as well as what to expect from their respective statehouse in the months to come:


  • Date Starting: Jan. 4
  • Date Ending: By Dec. 31, 2022
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Ohio seemed on the edge of sports betting in 2020, but will have to start over in 2021. Three of the four sponsors of last session’s sports betting push are out of office this term, but there is still bipartisan interest in Ohio, especially since every bordering state either has approved legal sports betting or plans to introduce legislation to do so.

2021 Outlook: Ohio has seemingly tilted toward legal betting for several years now, and the proliferation in the Midwest seems to by pushing things even more in that direction. Another failure wouldn’t be shocking giving Ohio’s recent past, but it would be a major disappointment in what has seemed like one of the likeliest states to approve sports betting since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban in May 2018.


  • Date Starting: Jan. 5
  • Date Ending: March 31, 2021
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Rep. Adam Koenig has said he will, once again, try to legalize sports betting in Kentucky, but challenges are mounting. Not only does Kentucky have one of the nation’s shortest sessions this year, but the state is also facing budget deficits and other major issues relating to COVID-19 that could put legal wagering on the backburner, especially with many Republicans in the overwhelmingly GOP-controlled legislature still opposed to any form of gambling.

2021 Outlook: Kentucky’s sports betting hopes are even longer this year due to an increasingly conservative bent in the legislature and the logistics of its truncated odd-numbered year legislative sessions. Backers will surely give it another serious push, but it appears the political and logistical obstacles will be too much to overcome.


  • Date Starting: Jan. 6
  • Date Ending: June 9, 2021
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Though legalization attempts fell short the past two sessions, some lawmakers have all-but guaranteed legal sports betting is coming to Connecticut this year. Elected officials and the state’s two gaming tribes appear to be nearing consensuses on a legal sports betting framework, the biggest hurdle in a state where politicians largely support wagering. Details still need to be hammered out, but legislation should be introduced shortly and it seems it will only be a matter of time until legal sports betting is approved.

2021 Outlook: There are no sure things in politics or betting, but there seems excellent odds Connecticut gets it done this year. As long as the Mashantucket Pequot and the Mohegan Tribes are both on board, some sort of sports betting will come to Connecticut.


  • Date Starting: Jan. 6
  • Date Ending: Jan. 4, 2022
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Roughly a dozen sports betting proposals fell short in Massachusetts’ last two-year legislative session, but elected officials are still hopeful a resolution can be reached. Massachusetts’ leading universities have opposed legalized betting options on their athletic programs, one of several key logistical holdups, but with two neighboring states taking bets already and Connecticut seemingly on its way to doing so, there may final be enough political pressure to pass a bill in 2021.

2021 Outlook: The Bay State’s failed sports betting attempts, despite the support of Republican Gov. Charlie Baker and the Democrat-controlled General Court, are one of the more frustrating developments in the first few years of state-by-state legal betting. The logistical logjam that has stalled legislation remains, but so too do the major advocates, now presumably with more motivation than ever to approve legal wagering.


  • Date Starting: Jan. 6
  • Date Ending: May 30, 2021
  • Legislation Introduced: Four Senate bills and one House bill

What to Expect: Lawmakers are already jumping at the chance to legalize sports betting, which seemed on track in Missouri until the pandemic curtailed the 2020 session. Sports betting backers will have to work out key differences between their proposals, but with five separate lawmakers already putting their names to legislation, Missouri could very well be the first state in 2021 to pass a legal wagering bill.

2021 Outlook: With multiple Republicans on board in the GOP-controlled legislature, the Show Me State is in great position to approve statewide mobile wagering.

New York

  • Date Starting: Jan. 6
  • Date Ending: Jan. 1, 2023
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Though casinos can already open retail sportsbooks, the real question is over online sports betting, which has stalled for several years in part due to a reluctance from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. With Cuomo hinting he could consider sports betting at a recent press conference – and facing a $15 billion budget shortfall – even previously ambivalent politicians may be more willing than ever to embrace a new revenue stream. The key date is the state’s budget deadline of April 1, 2020, by which time sports betting supporters will likely know online wagering’s fate.

2021 Outlook: The state’s biggest sports betting champions are more hopeful than ever statewide mobile wagering is approved in New York in the next few months. It will largely come up to the budgeting process – a complex endeavor in Albany even in the best of economic environments – and the support (or lack thereof) from the governor.


  • Date Starting: Jan. 6
  • Date Ending: June 10, 2021
  • Legislation Introduced: None so far

What to Expect: Nebraska lawmakers aren’t allowed to prefile legislation before the session’s start, but proposals that will regulate the state’s recently voter-approved casino expansions should come quickly. Among other key regulatory measures for the state’s first ever “Las Vegas style” commercial gaming centers will be the approval of sports betting. It remains to be seen if backers will push for a legislative authorization or, if like the 2020 referendum that allowed horse tracks to offer casino games, it will require a separate authorization from voters.

2021 Outlook: If it weren’t for Nebraska voters, casino gambling would not be coming to what is one of the most conservative states politically in the country. Despite the overwhelming support at the ballot box, gambling legislation remains a sticky subject in the statehouse. A further push to allow sports betting could be a difficult endeavor, even more so if officials determine it takes a constitutional amendment to do so.

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