Virginia & Michigan Are Live; Which States Will Be Next?
Perhaps, there was a race going on that existed only in the minds of regulators in two states on the cusp of joining the online sports gambling universe. Or maybe it was just happenstance.
Whatever the case, Virginia became the 21st U.S. jurisdiction to join the universe of sports gambling on Thursday afternoon, as FanDuel began accepting bets less than 24 hours ahead of Michigan flipping the switch on online sports betting and casino games Friday.
FanDuel was able to launch in Virginia because of its partnership with the Washington Football Team, which has its team headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. Washington became the first NFL team to receive a sports betting license. The Virginia Lottery said additional operator approvals will be made in time for the Super Bowl.
However, among the real winners in those two states launching online sports wagering are gambling operators who gain access to more customers, state treasuries that will be reaping much-needed tax dollars, and fans in those states who want a little extra action with their sports.
And that those two states are introducing online sports wagering leads to the next question: So, who will be next to get to the sports betting finish line? The best guess is Maryland, but more on that in a bit.
By population, the two new online sports gambling states represent the 10th largest (Michigan) and 12th largest (Virginia) U.S. states. Combined, they have a population of 18.55 million. To put that in perspective in terms of potential customer pool, the launches in Virginia and Michigan are nearly equivalent to having New York, with 19.33 million residents, offer online sports gambling.
Check Out: Latest updates and legal Virginia Sports Betting Sites.
Two Launches, Two Different Situations
The two new states in the online sports gambling club enter under significantly different circumstances.
Michigan already has sportsbooks in its bricks-and-mortar casinos, which were opened on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic. But like the much of the rest of the retail gambling world, those sportsbooks have largely been quiet. Michigan’s nine sports gambling platforms are each associated with a bricks-and-mortar casino. The launch of online sports gambling in Michigan also accompanies the introduction of online casino gambling. Online poker has been approved but it’s not entirely clear when the virtual cards will go into the air.
Virginia is entirely about online sports betting for now although voter approvals in the Nov. 3 election did clear the way for a handful of casinos that aren’t expected to open until at least 2022. All that implies the obvious — Virginia’s sports gambling operators will be taking wagers as stand-alone bookmakers without being affiliated with an operating casino, at least for now.
Which State Will Be Next to Take Legal Bets?
So, who’s next to initiate online sports gambling? As already mentioned, there’s Maryland whose residents approved sports betting on Nov. 3 but whose legislature still must hammer out an actual bill. Louisiana and North Carolina are in the queue and so is South Dakota, although that western state will be of minor revenue import.
And then there’s New York, whose status has always been complicated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s position on the matter. Cuomo’s previous chilly feelings for online sports betting has recently warmed in the face of pandemic-battered state budget but now there is a question about how Cuomo wants to see online sports betting operated. He has voiced a preference for an online sports betting operation that’s run akin to the lottery. Exactly what that would look like and whether the state’s legislature will agree are open questions.
Maryland Could Be Next Up
Among the bunch of likely states, Maryland is the best candidate to be up-and-running soonest, possibly by, or at least during, the 2021 NFL season. The state’s general assembly held long hearings in committees for both the House of Delegates and the state senate, and legislators appeared to reach an agreement on a fully formed bill before it hit a snag regarding diversity in equity ownership. The feeling among some legislators was that there just wasn’t any.
However, assuming that issue can be resolved, there is already a blueprint for Maryland launching both retail sportsbooks in the state’s six casinos and online sports wagering. Regarding mobile sports betting, online operators will likely be attached to one of those casinos or perhaps even to another type of licensed enterprise (such as a race track, OTB or sports venue).
The General Assembly has already begun its 2021 session and if the legislature is motivated, Maryland could have sports betting by next football season.
North Carolina, Louisiana Possible
North Carolina is expected to take up sports wagering expansion this legislative session. The likely timeline is that it may take a month or so for online sports betting legislation to be introduced and then the process will begin for hammering out a bill. At least in North Carolina there’s no voter approval needed if the Republican-dominated general assembly can agree on a bill and the state’s Democratic governor approves.
North Carolina’s current law allows for bets to be taken at two Indian casinos in the western part of the state. A compact has been reached and the first legal bets could be placed at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians casinos early this year.
In Louisiana, where an overwhelming majority of parishes approved sports gambling on Nov. 3, there is the headwind of a notoriously lethargic legislature trying to come together on rules and regulations for sports betting. The Louisiana legislature doesn’t meet until April — and as a frame of reference, consider that there has been a years-long delay just getting daily fantasy sports going in that state.
In South Dakota, the sports wagering would be retail only in Deadwood, which has casinos mainly for tourists.
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