More States Vote to Legalize Sports Betting

Amidst the 2020 election, three more states voted to legalize some form of sports betting. Maryland, South Dakota, and Louisiana now join the growing list of states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Illinois, and Michigan, among others. In addition, Virginia took further steps to approve casino gambling in four more locations, Nebraska authorized the addition of casino games at its horse tracks, and Colorado expanded the type and number of games it can offer.

A total of 25 states and Washington D.C. have now legalized some form of sports betting in the three years since the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This decision, which concluded the 2018 case of Murphy v. NCAA, removed the block against most state lawmakers from authorizing betting on sporting events. Based on the significant growth of legal betting across the country since this decision, Americans have shown their comfort with the idea of sports gambling in their respective states. The results from this most recent election show wide margins of support. Two-thirds of Maryland’s voters backed legalization, alongside 59% of South Dakota’s voters. In Louisiana, the majority of its parishes were in favor of sports betting. In the 25 states that already allow sports betting, it exists in various ways. New York’s authorization exists only within brick-and-mortar casinos while New Jersey and Pennsylvania began mobile and online betting.

A prevailing belief among the gambling industry is that as sports betting spreads, more states will adopt legalization. The reasoning is that citizens will cross state lines to gamble in states that allow it, then vote to approve measures in their own states in order to bring betting closer to home. This could have been a factor for Maryland’s legalization, since Washington D.C. and Virginia had already approved betting. Anticipated effects of sports betting include an increase in tax revenue. A 20% tax on the betting industry could net Maryland more than $18 million per year. According to Bill Miller, CEO of the American Gaming Association, the states that add sports betting will see a growth in jobs, a dedicated tax revenue, and a safe, regulated entertainment option close to home for citizens. As sports are expected to return to their regular schedules in the coming year, the effects of these changes will likely be seen sooner rather than later.


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