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New States to Approve Sports Betting


Towards the end of last year, the fist wave of states decided to take advantage of the US Supreme Court's decision to let state legislators decide on the issue of sports betting for their residents. Showing the way were New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Oregon and Rhode Island among others. With legalized sports betting firmly in place in nine states, it looks like the second wave of states is ready to strike here in mid-2019.

Barring a veto from its Governors, it looks like Indiana, Montana and Iowa are ready to join the fray. While the number of states that appear to be moving forward to approve sports and online betting legislation might be falling behind original predictions, there is still a lot of activity going on from shore to shore.

Montana state Sen. Mark Blasdel, a Republican, recently told The Associated Press, “We’re bringing what’s in the black market out into the open." Lacking absolute enthusiasm about the prospects of allowing citizens to legally bet on sports online and otherwise, the general sentiment around the country is the tax and license fee revenues justify making a move. 

In an interview, gambling expert Chris Grove addressed the reasons for mixed results related to the legalization of sports betting in the states. He said, “We’ll still end up with a healthy number, especially relative to how long gambling expansion usually takes." Like others, he understands some states are reluctant to move forward based on the notion potential incoming revenues aren't enough to offset the potential loss of human productivity due to problem gambling issues. 

Another problem being encountered in states like Texas, Florida and California is opposition from Indian tribes that currently have a quasi-monopoly on casino gambling in its respective states. There's a reluctance to try to dilute Indian gambling revenues by legalizing sports betting, which would like impact both online casinos, race tracks and even lotteries. 

Given the level of mixed support in Montana, legislators actually sent two separate bills Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. One bill would require the state to set up a dedicated regulatory agency that would control an 8.5% tax to be levied on licensed sports books. The other bill would give regulatory responsibilities to the state's lottery commission. If both bills were signed, it would actually create two competing sports betting systems, a first in the country. 

Of course, not everyone is on board with either bill. According to state Sen. Dee Brown, “Everybody in Montana is going to bet on sports, we’re going to be raking in the dough — I don’t believe that for a second.”

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