States That Could Legalize Sports Betting In 2022: California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina

States That Could Legalize Sports Betting In 2022: California, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina article feature image

Christian Petersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Fans walk by FanDuel location in Phoenix, Arizona

  • Which states could still legalize sports betting in 2022? And what would the potential impacts of each be?
  • Find the latest on where potential legalization stands in California, Massachusetts, North Carolina and South Carolina below.

We're nearly halfway through 2022, and so far, only Maine and Kansas have legalized sports betting while seven states have come up short.

With most state legislatures adjourned until 2023, we're now monitoring only four states that could still legalize this year, though each could have a significant impact on the industry in its own way.

States Considering Sports Betting

StatePotential Impact
CaliforniaMost populous state in the U.S., considered crown jewel of the market
MassachusettsHome of DraftKings, largest state in New England, considering most restrictive law in U.S.
North CarolinaHome of popular college basketball programs, would be fifth-largest state to legalize online betting
South CarolinaWould join Louisiana as only states in the Deep South to offer legal online betting
Click on a state above to skip ahead or here for our projection map for all 50 states

California: The Crown Jewel of Sports Betting

Legalizing online sports betting in the Golden State would be the industry's biggest win since the Supreme Court allowed states to do so.

California is the most populous U.S. state. It's home to twice as many people as New York, which broke the monthly record for dollars bet earlier this year. Unlike New York, the online betting measure under consideration would impose a very low tax rate in California, another win for the industry.

Online betting in California will come down to which group gets their message across to voters better: The state's native tribes or out-of-state gaming companies, which have already spent a combined $175 million on ad campaigns for and against sports betting initiatives slated to appear on the November ballot.

The tribes have their own ballot prop, which would limit legal betting to physical wagers on tribal lands. Despite the revenue tribes would see from online betting, they're wary to let commercial gaming companies into California, where they currently have a monopoly on gaming.

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The tribes have run ads attacking a separate online betting proposition, claiming it exposes minors to increased risks of addiction and problem gambling.

The online initiative is unsurprisingly financed by DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and a host of other commercial gaming operators eager to bring their business to the state. It would tax online betting at a 10% rate, five times less than New York's, which has caused operators to scale back promotions and marketing.

They're promoting it as a way to address California's homelessness and addiction crises, as 85% of tax revenue would fund those programs.

Each initiative could become law if they get enough votes, though neither could pass just as easily, especially with each group's message centering on what not to vote for.

Keep your eye on California come November.

Massachusetts: A Torch Bearer for Sports Betting Restrictions?

DraftKings was one of the first online sportsbooks to launch after the Supreme Court struck down the ban on sports betting. Four years later, the sportsbook is live in a quarter of the country, yet still illegal in Massachusetts — DraftKings' home state.

Six representatives from the state's House and Senate are currently working through legislation that would change that, but parts of their plan could be extremely problematic for the industry.

The Senate, which killed legalization efforts last year, has been steadfast about imposing far-reaching advertising restrictions and banning college betting.

There's no exact figure for how much money is bet on college sports, but the American Gaming Association projects about $10 billion is bet on men's college basketball during March alone. If both chambers come to an agreement, it's more likely Massachusetts only bans betting on in-state college sports — like several other states do — though ad restrictions could stick around. We've seen more and more states consider them lately.

Massachusetts could be a torch bearer on that front, especially with one of the largest operators in the country in its backyard. Depending on what those restrictions end up being, DraftKings and its competitors may have to reroute their entire U.S. marketing strategy, as FanDuel has done in Ontario amid their restrictions.

North Carolina Considering Online Sports Betting Expansion

Sports betting is already legal in North Carolina, but not many people can do it — it's currently limited to in-person wagers at two tribal casinos near the Tennessee border, which are about a three hour drive from Charlotte.

A week into their session, lawmakers are close to passing a bill that would bring the Tar Heel  state online. If it passes, North Carolina would be fifth-largest state with mobile sportsbooks.

Several states like New York and Rhode Island also started first with limited retail betting, then expanded to online. If North Carolina can do the same, it would be a positive sign for states like Mississippi and Wisconsin, where betting is still limited to casinos.

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There are no public figures on how much retail sports betting has made North Carolina, but a fiscal note in 2021 projected it would generate around $5 million per year. Online sports betting generated around $10 million in Michigan last year, which is roughly the same population size as North Carolina.

About 85% of the betting market comes from online users in jurisdictions with legal retail and mobile options, according to the American Gaming Association.

A sports betting expansion could also open the door for the state's big time sports schools — Duke and North Carolina — to get in on the business. The legislation under consideration already has the backing of the NBA, MLB and PGA.

South Carolina Looks to Bring Sports Betting to the Deep South

Out of the many regions in the U.S., the Deep South has been the toughest sell for sports betting.

Currently, online betting is available in only a bulk of Louisiana's parishes, while retail betting is limited to a few casinos in Mississippi. That could change if South Carolina manages to pass a recently introduced online betting bill.

Both Georgia and Alabama disposed of half-hearted efforts earlier this year while Florida remains in limbo as it deals with a federal lawsuit. Their biggest obstacles have been historic religious resistance to gambling and the lack of current gaming options in their states.

Aside from reeling in Georgians traveling across the border for a legal betting option, South Carolina's legalization could spur the rest of the Deep South to finally make progress on this front. It seems they'll get there eventually.

Losing out on revenue to another state definitely won't hurt arguments to legalize.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has been resistant to sports betting in the past, but he's up for reelection in November, and a few of his opponents are for it. If lawmakers can get a bill to his desk before they adjourn on June 15, it would put a considerable amount pressure on McMaster to rethink his stance.

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