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5 States That Could Launch Legal Sports Betting This Year

5 States That Could Launch Legal Sports Betting This Year
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

We’re not even through two months of 2022, and it has already been a monumental year for legal sports betting in the United States. New York mobile sports betting launched on Jan. 8, and calling it a game-changer is a huge understatement.

New York instantly became the top state in the U.S. in terms of betting handle, and that was before February’s Super Bowl. And even New York had to share the spotlight by the end of January as Louisiana launched mobile sports betting as well.

Those two states qualify 2022 as a big year no matter what, but they may not be the only ones joining the party. It’s possible that as many as five additional states could launch legal sports betting before the calendar turns to 2023. 

Any states where betting launches either at brick-and-mortar casinos or via mobile and online devices will be joining a marketplace that keeps on growing. Around half of the 50 states offer in-person retail betting, and don’t forget the District of Columbia.

Nearly two dozen states, and D.C., have launched mobile sports betting, which expands the marketplace to millions of users across the country who aren’t close to brick-and-mortar sportsbooks.

Sports betting is where the mantra ‘the more, the merrier,’ definitely applies.

Legal In Ohio, Sports Betting Taking Steps To Become Reality

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine signed House Bill 29 into law on Dec. 22, 2021, and, just like that, sports betting was legal. But for Ohioans eager to start wagering on their favorite teams, there’s still a long way from sports betting becoming legal to it being set for launch.

House Bill 29 states that sports betting must launch by Jan. 1, 2023, so — barring any setbacks in the regulatory and licensing processes – sports betting will likely launch sometime late in 2022. Because this is one industry where time definitely is money, the longer it takes to launch, the more money the state of Ohio will miss out on.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission is currently drafting the regulations that must be in place before it can begin taking applications for licenses. The application process may not begin before this summer, so it’s hard to imagine sports betting launching before the start of the pro and college football seasons.

Up to 25 mobile sports betting licenses could be granted, putting Ohio among the states with the highest number of platforms to choose from. If you’re looking to place bets in Ohio, more competition means plenty of promos and Ohio sports betting bonus offers from sportsbooks eager to earn your loyalty.

And if all 25 licenses are granted, even bettors with obscure interests should be able to find a sportsbook offering odds on their sport of choice – be it darts, cricket, volleyball, or something even further from the mainstream.

Arkansas Mobile Sports Betting A Waiting Game

Bettors in Arkansas can place bets on sporting events, but only if they go to one of the state’s three casinos. A fourth casino in the state has been licensed but hasn’t yet opened. It may also have a brick-and-mortar sportsbook in the future.

Mobile sports betting isn’t ready to launch as proposed rules are still going through the legislative process. Depending on what happens during that process, it’s possible that the state’s three casinos could control mobile sports betting in Arkansas.

That left a lobbyist for several mobile sportsbook platforms to suggest the traditional sports betting platforms could be left without a spot in the market.

That’s possible, but casinos in Connecticut have partnered with DraftKings and FanDuel for their mobile sports betting platforms, so something similar may well be worked out in Arkansas.

The state’s three casinos were hoping to launch their mobile sports betting platforms in time for the Super Bowl. Those plans were dashed in late January when the attorney for the state Racing Commission elected to pull proposed rules from a legislative panel’s agenda, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

Maryland Mobile Sports Betting Launch Not Yet Imminent

Five casinos in Maryland have sportsbooks that launched in December, so the state is ahead of Ohio and on par with Arkansas. What Maryland has in common with each of those states is that none of them appear set to launch mobile sports betting as quickly as bettors were hoping.

baltimore city hall 1482793 640 - 5 States That Could Launch Legal Sports Betting This Year
Image by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay

The lack of mobile sports betting in Maryland may lead some residents to cross state lines to place mobile wagers. That’s especially true for residents who don’t live within a short drive of a casino.

Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania all border Maryland, and all have legal mobile sports betting in place. Any residents crossing into those states are spending money that Maryland is missing out on.

According to the Baltimore Sun, those stopping at a Maryland casino before the Super Bowl found plenty of promotions to get them ready to watch – and bet on – the game.

WTOP reports that Maryland is still focusing on licensing additional brick-and-mortar betting operations in the state, meaning that mobile sports betting licenses have yet to become a priority.

“Those of us on the inside who are looking at it objectively realize that it would be nice to aim for football season of 2022, September,” said John Martin, the director of the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency told WTOP.

“Regulations haven’t been written yet. Application processes haven’t been identified yet. Applications then have to come in, then be reviewed, then we go through our normal vetting and qualification process. So yeah it’s going to take several months.”

That’s bad news for Marylanders unless they live near a casino or a neighboring state with legal mobile sports betting already in place.

Other States Taking Steps Toward Legalizing Sports Betting

While Ohio, Arkansas, and Maryland have a strong chance to launch mobile sports betting in 2022, the picture after that is murky. If all three launch, that would mean five states launch mobile sports betting this year.

Could the total grow beyond that? Voters in South Dakota may get to weigh in on whether they’d like to see mobile sports betting legalized this fall. But even if the issue is on the ballot and voters approve it, mobile sports betting wouldn’t begin in the state until the summer of 2023.

Voters in California may also have the chance to weigh in on legalizing sports betting in the state this fall. If approved, the proposal would allow the state’s recognized tribes to conduct retail sports betting and statewide mobile betting via servers located on tribal land.

ESPN provided a detailed look at the competing factions in California and said sports betting may well end up as “the most expensive ballot measure in California’s history.”

Texans, meanwhile, may get to vote on a sports betting bill in 2023, so bettors there aren’t going to be placing legal wagers anytime soon. And what happens next in Florida is anybody’s guess.

Hard Rock Sportsbook launched its mobile sportsbook in the state in then was suspended indefinitely after a federal judge struck down Florida’s gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe. FloridaPolitics.com details a recent appeal of the ruling, leading to Hard Rock suspending its mobile sportsbook after three weeks.

In betting terms, the odds look good for Ohio, Arkansas, and Maryland to launch mobile sports betting in 2002. After that, though, things are a crapshoot at best.

By Mark Ashenfelter

Featured Image by David Mark from Pixabay

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