Three More States Advance Sports Betting Bills: Updates on Nebraska, Connecticut & Louisiana
Russell Lansford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Sean Gardner/Getty Images, and Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured from Left: Adrian Martinez (Nebraska Cornhuskers), James Bouknight (UConn Huskies), and Alvin Kamara (New Orleans Saints).
Three more states are set to join the growing list of states with passed 2021 sports betting bills.
Nebraska, Connecticut and Louisiana each recently cleared major legislative hurdles that could see ratification for their respective sports betting bills in the coming days or weeks. This trio is set to join South Dakota, Wyoming, Maryland, New York and Florida among a growing number of states with legal betting bills passed this year.
Here’s what comes next for the three states best poised to pass 2021 sports betting bills:
Despite many lawmakers' personal gambling opposition, earlier this week the Nebraska legislature approved legislation that will allow the state’s first casinos and retail sportsbook. The successful passage comes six months after Nebraska voters overwhelmingly backed a constitutional amendment that will allow pari-mutuel horse racing facilities to become “Las Vegas-style” casinos.
Lawmakers earlier this month amended the bill to prohibit bets on in-state college teams playing in Nebraska. This means bettors won’t be able to wager on home games for popular programs such as the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team.
The bill is now on the desk of Gov. Pete Ricketts, an outspoken gambling opponent. However, there’s little the governor can do to stop the bill; a veto would almost assuredly be overridden. Unlike colleagues in Arizona and Maryland who held ceremonies for their 2021 sports betting bills, Ricketts will likely sign the bill with little fanfare or let it pass without his signature.
Either way, in-person sports betting is coming to Nebraska. State regulators will need to pass sportsbook rules and then license each operator, a process that has taken between three months and a year in other states.
Gov. Ned Lamont and the state’s two gaming tribes announced a groundbreaking new gaming compact earlier this month that will allow the tribes to open online casinos and sportsbooks. The culmination of years of negotiations, the deal between Connecticut and the MP and Mohegan tribes cleared the major political and logistical hurdle preventing legal wagering in the state.
That made Thursday’s House vote largely perfunctory. The Senate is expected to follow suit as early as next week.
Assuming approval, Connecticut sports bettors will have access to three sportsbooks as early as this year. The two tribes as well as the state lottery can all open digital sportsbooks under the deal.
The compact also will permit 15 retail sportsbooks in the state. Notably, the deal imposes licensing restrictions on daily fantasy sports operators and could force them to stop accepting customers during a review process that could last through this fall.
Louisiana lawmakers have steadily advanced a sports betting regulatory bill that will allow as many as 41 online sports betting licenses or “skins.” Easily passed by the Senate Thursday, the bill is expected to pass the House in the next few weeks.
This comes after the full legislature easily cleared a companion taxation bill, underscoring the political momentum for legal wagering in the state. Louisiana voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved mobile wagering in their respective municipalities, meaning the vast majority of the state’s bettors can wager from their mobile device once legal wagering begins.
Lawmakers are still considering the legislation, including changing the number of possible skins or which entities can get them. However, the bipartisan, largely supported sports betting legislation shouldn’t be tripped up from passage.
Assuming it passes the legislature and earns Gov. John Bel Edwards’ signature as expected, legal sports betting could begin online as early as this year. Retail sportsbooks at the state’s casinos and horse tracks could also open in 2021.