Half The SEC States Lack Legal Sports Betting. Will That Change Soon?

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Half The SEC States Lack Legal Sports Betting. Will That Change Soon?
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The final large geographic block in the U.S. without legal sports betting contains a couple of states that might be on the path to legalization, says a Kentucky-based gaming reporter.

Of the 12 states with universities that have teams competing in the collegiate Southeastern Conference, including the newest member state, Oklahoma, six states don’t have legal sports betting.

Appearing on “The Edge,” Steve Bittenbender, a gaming analyst and writer for the Gambling.com Group, said he believes three of those states, Alabama, Georgia and Missouri, could end up with legalized sports betting.

In discussing Alabama and Georgia, Bittenbender said, “Those are the two that I think I’m most bullish on.”

Even with legislative approval, though, the issue would have to appear on the ballot in Alabama and possibly in Georgia, he said.

As for Missouri, Bittenbender said he is “not optimistic at all that a sports betting bill would pass the Legislature.”

However, Bittenbender indicated that a petition being circulated by the state’s major professional sports teams is the “best chance” for sports betting to be legalized in Missouri. The teams have until May 8 to collect more than 170,000 signatures from registered voters for the issue to be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Steve Bittenbender On The South's Betting Status

Here Are The Illegal And Legal SEC States 

Nationwide, 38 states and Washington, D.C., have legal sports betting. Outside of the Southeast, only a few lack legal sports betting — California and Minnesota, for instance.

That leaves the Southeastern Conference states as the largest geographic block in the nation where the sports betting industry has room to grow.

The SEC states without legal sports betting are:

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Alabama
  • Georgia
  • South Carolina

Those states have a combined population of 62 million, representing about 19% of the U.S. population.

The other six SEC states have either in-person or mobile sports betting — or both. For instance, Tennessee is a mobile-only state, while Mississippi has in-person sports betting at casinos but not off-site mobile wagering.

The SEC states with legal sports betting are:

  • Arkansas
  • Louisiana
  • Kentucky
  • Tennessee
  • Mississippi
  • Florida

North Carolina Set To Launch Sports Betting

Also on "The Edge," Bittenbender discussed the launch of legal mobile sports betting in North Carolina, set for March 11 at noon ET.

Though North Carolina does not have any universiteis with teams in the Southeastern Conference, it is a Southern state that borders SEC states -- one with legal sports betting (Tennessee) and two without (South Carolina and Georgia).

As Bittenbender notes on "The Edge," bettors in North Carolina can began registering on approved mobile sports betting apps on Friday, March 1.

The March 11 launch date in North Carolina gives bettors who are at least 21 years old a chance to wager on the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, which begins March 12, and on the NCAA March Madness tournament a little later in the month. Selection Sunday for March Madness is March 17.