Which states could legalise online gambling in 2021?

Specific predictions of which states have yet to legalise online gambling

The year 2020 was a challenge for online sports betting operators. With COVID-19 sending the world into a state of shock, many events were canceled worldwide. Gamblers turned to other online betting avenues, such as virtual sports, esports, and casino games.

Yet, the pandemic also gave rise to new initiatives. Many American states have started legalising online gambling, revealing how it's given the economy a boost after many businesses failed to make a turnover. As soon as the first state approved online gambling, many others soon followed.

We're going to look at which states have yet to legalise online gambling, and which ones we predict will approve it by 2021.

The current status of legal gambling in the United States

Several legislators have changed their stance on iGaming in the last year. As it now stands, 24 states have legalized online gambling in some form or another. While a few of them have only recently found approval, the implementation will commence within the next few months

Here's the list of states in which it's legal to gamble online in 2020:

  • Nevada
  • Delaware
  • New Jersey
  • West Virginia
  • New Mexico
  • Rhode Island
  • Arkansas
  • New York
  • Iowa
  • Oregon
  • Indiana
  • New Hampshire
  • Illinois
  • Mississippi
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Colorado
  • Washington, DC
  • Tennessee
  • North Carolina
  • Pennsylvania
  • Washington
  • Oklahoma

The expected surge of US online gambling in 2021

COVID-19 stripped state coffers when businesses and residents struggled to meet their tax obligations. Revenue dried up, which is why legislators looked for other forms of income. It paved the way for legalizing online gambling, specifically in the field of sports betting.

Several reports show how much US states are losing out on with US gamblers betting online illegally on casinos and sportsbooks in other countries. It’s changed the mental stigma of gambling, reinforcing the notion that it will improve the economy.

Therefore, with the new gambling laws in place, it's expected that online betting will give a massive financial boost by 2021.

Potential for states to legalise online gambling by 2021

There are several bills already in play for legalizing online gambling. Instead of merely listing the states, we decided to give you details on why we predict new betting laws by 2021.

  • Alabama

The last time that the State of Alabama passed a bill on gambling was in 2019. It consisted of 44 pages, which only allowed betting on college events and a few professional sports. The Alabama Sports Wagering Commission regulates sports betting, with a proposal to widen the bill's scope to other gambling elements and a 10% tax return.

  • Alaska

Alaska passed two bills in 2020, namely SB 199 and HB 246. They legalized sports betting in the form of lotteries. Alaskans can buy lottery tickets to gamble on sports, but can't participate in online betting. There are discussions underway to change the landscape of gambling in the state, which we suspect may happen in 2021.

  • Arizona

January 2019 saw Arizona approve a bill whereby federal-approved groups could offer sports betting. No other operators may provide these services, which limits the availability of specific sports for gambling purposes. Online casino gambling isn't legal yet, but there's a movement to change the current stance. 

  • California

The State of California regulates most gaming activities to protect consumers, whether or not there's gambling involved. Adam Gray, an Assembly member at the time, attempted to legalize sports betting in 2017. He argued that both sports betting and gaming require skill, and so should fall under the same umbrella.

While the Court didn't rule in his favor, there's currently a referendum in place which could see the legalization of online gaming in the state by 2021.

  • Connecticut

Connecticut members also attempted to legalize online gambling in 2017, with the first official bill introduced in 2018. Stakeholders that presented statements included the NBA and MLB. While the session closed without any formal votes, 2019 saw new discussions for passing the bill on sports betting. It could be that the state will see legal online gambling in 2021.

  • Florida

State Senator Jeff Brandes filed three bills in 2019, which presented specific conditions for accepting sports betting. The central premise is that punters could bet on games through national lotteries or on their mobile phones. The state is set to further discuss this bill in October 2020, which could see it implemented before 2021.

  • Georgia

A bill introduced in 2019 saw a growing interest in online gambling, mainly in sports betting than casino games. It proposed regulating the industry with federal-issued licenses, with no more than ten permits allowed. The draft is still under consideration, which we suspect will move forward with so many other US States now legalizing it.

  • Hawaii

House Bill No. 1107 is a  21-page document that outlines the state's interest in sports betting and its implementation. It mentions the creation of a Hawaii sports betting corporation to oversee the entire industry in the area. The bill is still under consideration, but we're suspecting to see a movement in this regard by 2021.

  • Kansas

Kansas has been fighting for sports betting rights since 2018. It succeeded with obtaining a national lottery for betting on games, limited to a few competitions. In 2019, a new bill entered the scene with the hopes of expanding to online wagering on sports events, but no action has been taken yet. Here's hoping the state will see legalized online gambling by 2021.

  • Kentucky

In 2017, Sen. Julian M. Carroll took advantage of the state's horse racing system to motivate why Kentucky would benefit from sports betting. The focus was on pro events rather than high school games. The initial license fee proposed was a whopping $250,000, set to limit how many operators would request a gambling certificate. 

The 27-page document also set the scene for sports league stakeholders to become formal members of the racing commission. Kentucky saw two more bills in 2019, but it's made no final decision yet.

  • Louisiana

Like Kentucky, Louisiana wanted to expand its horse race betting component. The 2018 House Bill called for bringing in more land-based casino games to horse track facilities, intending only to approve a few operators. The discussions are still on hold, but there is a movement to get it going again.

  • Maine

Maine almost saw lawmakers succeed in introducing online gambling in 2019. The bill permitted esports betting and proposed the oversight of wagering in the state. However, the governor overturned the vote, stating that a special session needs to be held to discuss it further. The session could take place in late 2020 or early 2021.

  • Maryland

Maryland's battle for online gambling started in 2018, with House Bill No. 989 requesting a task force to study and determine the potential effect of sports betting. It proposed a wagering license for operators to provide gambling services, with the legal age limit set at 21. The motion hasn't moved forward since then, but we predict it might change in the coming year.

  • Massachusetts

This state is one of the few who have been trying the hardest to legalize online gambling. A 31-page white paper appeared in 2018, detailing a roadmap for introducing the industry in Massachusetts. The Senate bill 2273 called for an intense study on sports betting and the possible economic advantages. 

It was the first bill to discuss legalizing fantasy sports in the mix. More papers found a home for discussion in 2019, but the state hasn't reached a decision. 

  • Minnesota

Rep. Pat Garofalo was one of the biggest supporters of an online gambling bill in 2018 for Minnesota. It recommended a supervisory commission to issue licenses and manage the sports betting component. When the Minnesota legislature closed in May that year, there was no outcome. It's still on the ropes, but renewed talks may begin soon.

  • Missouri

Missouri already has some form of gambling available. A few riverboat casinos hold betting licenses, and there are approved fantasy sports wagering companies. Since 2018, many Supreme Court hearings saw bills requesting to expand the industry into online gambling for sports betting and casino games. 

With two more bills added in 2019, there's still the possibility Missouri punters will see some online gambling action in 2020.

  • Nebraska

Bill LB 990 appeared earlier this year when sports betting took on a new definition. Many countries worldwide are now claiming that sports betting is a game of skill rather than luck. With this classification in hand, Nebraska is hoping to legalize online sports gambling by 2021.

  • North Dakota

North Dakota beat Nebraska to the punch, calling on the 'game of skill' card in 2019 already. House Bill 1254 called for the North Dakota Attorney General to oversee sports gambling in the state, which is still waiting for approval. Let's hope that, with 2020 seeing new US online gamblings states, North Dakota will join the ranks shortly.

  • Ohio

State Senators stepped up in 2018 when they introduced a new bill to the General Assembly. It proposed developing the sports gambling industry, with benefits to the economy as one of the top advantages. There's a placeholder in the document which allows for discussing the expansion of online gambling in Ohio.

  • South Carolina

Currently, South Carolina's law sees gambling as any activity that involves spending money on game outcomes, whether you win by chance or skill. House Bill No. 3102 from 2017 tried to change the law to allow betting on professional sports. Another paper released to the state and gamblers are eagerly waiting to see if they will be able to gamble online by 2021.

  • South Dakota

Dozens of South Dakota legislators called for sports betting in 2019, wanting an amendment to online gambling laws. They wanted it to allow for the betting on sports and casino games, with a prime focus on professional sports. There are talks that the bill could find its way into the 2020 ballot for a vote.

If the vote is successful, South Dakota will become one of the American states to see legal online gambling in 2021.

  • Texas

 A bill consisting of fifteen pages appeared in 2019 to discuss gambling in Texas. It proposed that operators would have to receive a permit against a fee of $250,000. In essence, the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation would be responsible for regulating the new law, with a 6.25% tax imposed on operators.

There's no approval yet, but things may change in the coming year.

  • Vermont

Thomas Burditt, a legislator in Vermont, proposed a bill in 2019 that was different from the other states. It called for the allowance of mobile betting, with the strict measure in place to ensure that punters are based in Vermont. It permitted betting on sports, as long as it didn't include high school, college, and university events. It also banned esports betting.

  • Wyoming

House bill 225 appeared earlier this year to legalize online gambling in Wyoming. While it banned betting on college and high school events, it would have led the way to official online sports betting in the state. However, the legislature voted against it. There are hopes that discussions will rise again in 2021.

Final thoughts

American gamblers can look forward to a massive change in the online gambling opinion. By 2021, betting could be legal in almost every state. With so many US sports for overseas gamblers to wager on, it seems only fair that American punters also get the chance. 

SiGMA Americas:

Following the successful launch of SiGMA Europe (Malta) and SiGMA Asia (Manila), we’re now launching the inaugural SiGMA AMERICAS, covering all three major timezones. The inaugural edition is set for September 22-24, 2020 with a virtual summit focusing on two themes: SiGMA AMERICAS for the Gaming industry and AIBC AMERICAS for the Emerging Tech industry. We wanted to provide fresh content, to help you navigate through these turbulent times. If you’re exploring Americas as a new frontier or wondering which tech solutions to embrace, we've got you covered: tune in on September 22-24, 2020.

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