top of page
  • Anthony Studnicka

Sports Wagering Recap: Where We Are At This Election Season

By: Anthony Studnicka

Photo Credit: Jose F. Moreno. Philadelphia Inquirer.

As sports wagering continues to gain traction in many states and finds itself as a topic on five different ballots, a recap may be helpful in understanding why.

To begin, why has sports wagering gained so much traction recently? The answer is rather simple and can be attributed largely in part to one Supreme Court decision. Back in 2018, the United States Supreme Court determined the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prohibited states from offering sports wagering, was unconstitutional as it infringed on states’ rights. While since then the ball has been placed in Congresses court to legislate regarding sports wagering, their inaction has allowed this decision to be determined by states, on a state by state basis.

However, one other federal law that has been deemed relevant, at least in part, in the realm of sports wagering is the Federal Wire Act. The Wire Act, which was enacted in 1961 was originally passed with the intent of suppressing organized crime. While legal minds and presidential administrations have differed regarding their interpretation of The Wire Act in relation to sports wagering, it is mainly targeted towards operators and providers. This is why many offshore sportsbooks and legal overseas betting have attracted many American internet users, as these providers are outside the scope of the jurisdiction of The Wire Act. The Wire Act is highly complex and debatably interpreted, pending further litigation, and more on that can be viewed here:

Since 2018, many states have varied their approach to sports wagering. Some have permitted retail wagering, while others have legalized mobile wagering. States have largely varied on their approaches.

The following states have legalized sports wagering:

· Arkansas, retail wagering.

· Colorado, mobile wagering.

· Delaware, retail wagering.

· District of Columbia, retail and mobile wagering.

· Illinois, retail and mobile wagering.

· Indiana, retail and mobile wagering.

· Iowa, retail and mobile wagering.

· Michigan, retail and mobile.

· Mississippi, retail wagering, legislature considered but did not pass mobile wagering in 2019.

· Montana, legal through state lottery.

· Nevada, land-based sports books, as well as websites and mobile apps connected to the sportsbooks.

· New Hampshire, retail and mobile wagering.

· New Jersey, retail and mobile wagering.

· New York, retail wagering.

· North Carolina, legal at tribal casinos.

· Oregon, legal through state lottery.

· Pennsylvania, retail and mobile wagering.

· Rhode Island, retail and mobile wagering.

· Tennessee, mobile wagering.

· Virginia, retail and mobile wagering.

· Washington, legal at tribal casinos.

· West Virginia, retail and mobile wagering.

The following states have considered legislation in regard to sports wagering:

· Alabama considered a bill in 2019.

· Arizona considered a bill in 2019 for retail sports wagering.

· California is currently considered a bill that would allow for sports wagering, which would be subject to a referendum in 2020.

· Connecticut considered a bill in 2019.

· Georgia considered a bill in 2019.

· Kansas considered a bill in 2019 which would have permitted retail and mobile wagering.

· Kentucky considered a bill in 2019.

· Louisiana passed a bill through the legislature and will go to the voter’s referendum this November.

· Maine has legislation pending with the Governor that would legalize retail and mobile wagering.

· Maryland passed a bill through the legislature and will go to the voter’s referendum this November.

· Massachusetts is currently considered multiple bills.

· Minnesota considered a bill in 2019.

· Missouri considered a bill in 2019.

· North Dakota considered a bill that would have permitted retail sports wagering.

· Ohio is currently considered multiple bills.

· South Carolina considered a bill in 2019.

· South Dakota considered a bill in 2019.

· Texas considered a bill in 2019.

· Vermont considered a bill in 2019. *All information above pertaining to individual states taken from DraftKings website.[1]

What this means for 2020: As the election in 2020 is getting closer, voters in the states of Colorado, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, and South Dakota have the ability to change the landscape of sports wagering in their respective states. If all of these states vote to legalize sports wagering, that will bring the count to a total of 25 states who have passed legislation since PASPA was overturned by the Supreme Court just over two years ago.[2] Sports wagering clearly seems to be on the rise around the country.

What this means for the future: While not every state is “on-board” with the sports wagering movement, it has become clear that the majority of states are trending this way. In the coming months and years, it seems inevitable that more and more states will legalize sports wagering in one form or another.

The benefits of sports wagering include increased tax revenue, increase viewership, creation of jobs, reduction of illegal operations, increased awareness and treatment options for gambling addiction, investment opportunities, and sports wagering encourages technological and economic development, amongst other things.[3]

Just how exactly the legalization of sports wagering goes to impact the future of sports is underdetermined. However, what has already become clear is that sports wagering will integrate into the live sporting event experience and potentially play a significant role. Arenas, venues, and teams nationwide have begun to announce partnerships with prominent sports wagering companies and organizations. This ranges from naming rights and brand deals (Broncos[4], Cubs[5], and more) to in-venue sportsbook type offerings (Washington Capitals and Wizards[6].)

While the legalization and integration of sports wagering into professional sports will be impacted, and maybe even deferred from states perspectives to the individual leagues pertaining to governance through collective bargaining agreements, amateur sports have already shown to be different.

An explanation, for example, is shown as residents of Chicago are unable to wager on college teams from the state of Illinois.[7] The potential for undue influence is largely speculated as to the reasoning behind this rule. However, what this rule does not take into consideration is the fact that most residents who live in Chicago could more easily drive to Norte Dame than the University of Illinois. Depending on a person’s exact location a google search from “Chicago” to these respective Universities demonstrates that Norte Dame is approximately 40 miles closer.


It seems clear that some restrictions imposed by states may be arbitrary, and states may need to amend rules and restrictions as time goes on pertaining to the legalization of sports wagering. However, places such as Illinois are still ahead of other states, as they gave already began to collect their tax rates (15% in Illinois, 17% in Chicago) and licensing fees of $10 million.[8]

In just a few short weeks, five states have the opportunity to change this. The outcome of these votes will impact their states significantly in a time where additional economic stimulation and funding may be of critical importance.


Anthony is a third-year student at Arizona State University pursuing a J.D. and a Master of Sports Law & Business. He is the creator of Long Run Sports.

[1] DraftKings, (last visited Oct. 27, 2020). [2] Steve Schult, Five States Have Gambling Initiatives On The Ballot This November, Card Player (Oct. 9, 2020), [3] Dave Nash, Possible Benefits Of Legal Sports Betting, The Sports Daily (Nov. 24, 2018), [4] Arnie Stapleton, Broncos Were Quick To Sign Trio OF Gambling Sponsors, CBS Denver (Sept. 4, 2020), [5] David Purdum, Cubs Announce Plans For Sportsbook At Wrigley Field, ESPN (Sept. 3, 2020), [6] Jon Sorensen, Box Office At Capital One Arena Has Been Transformed Into Sportsbook, Opened Today At 4:00 PM, Novacapsfans (Jul. 31, 2020), [7] SportsBetting.Legal, Illinois Sports Betting – Bet On Sports Legally In IL, visited. Oct. 27, 2020). [8] Id.

29 views0 comments
bottom of page