The United States is unique in that, as its name implies, it is a confederation with fifty component states, making it the largest such confederation in the world. The individual states have a great deal of independence and autonomy, but with a very large catch – once you have joined the United States, there is no legal way for your former state to break away again at any time in the future, and for any reason.
This unique structure has created a complex patchwork of rules and laws that can change dramatically as soon as you move from one state to another.
Changes in the US Online Sports Betting Market During 2021
We have painstakingly reviewed the legal situation in all fifty states and compiled a list of all the changes which have occurred during the past year, as well as checking Let’s take a look at the changes that have occurred in the US market.
The governor of Arizona passed a comprehensive online sports betting bill in April 2021, allowing state-wide online & mobile betting as well as making provisions for some of America’s first in-stadium sportsbooks. Unibet was one of the first on the draw, going live on September 9th – the first day of the 2021 NFL season.
Online betting was first legalized in Connecticut in October 2019, but the bill was not as sweeping as the one recently passed in Arizona; several hurdles had to be jumped by sportsbooks before they could begin trading.
A landmark deal between Governor Ned Lamont and the state lottery will see up to 15 retail sportsbook locations opening within the state in 2021. The first online sportsbooks are finally likely to be up and running by Fall 2021.
Online and mobile betting has been legal in Iowa since August 2019, but a requirement for bettors to register in-person has slowed the growth of the pastime within the state. The governor has enacted a sunset clause present in the original bill which removed this requirement in 2021, and growth has been expanding rapidly ever since.
In an ironic twist, Iowa has no professional sports teams yet it’s extremely low licensing fees look set to see it become one of the most lucrative markets for online sportsbooks in per-capita terms.
In 2020, a vote was held in Louisiana to determine if online sports betting should be legalized. Voters in 55 of the state’s 64 parishes supported the bill. Some retail locations opened during 2021, and online betting is due to go live in early 2022.
Michigan has been eager to get online gambling up and running within their state for some time. With that in mind, it was no surprise when they passed one of the most wide-ranging online gambling bills of any US state in March 2020. The first online sportsbooks were up and running a year later.
Michigan is one of the few states to have legalized all forms of online gambling including poker and online casinos as well as sportsbooks. The regulations have been designed to create a competitive market by placing no restrictions on the number of operators who can set up sites within its borders.
Progress has been slow in North Carolina, despite legislators being eager to get online and mobile betting up and running within the state. In-person sports betting was legalized in June 2019, with the first bets being placed in March 2021.
Like North Carolina, the situation in South Dakota is progressing frustratingly slowly. There is a good reason for this in South Dakota, however, as the state’s constitution specifically prohibits any form of gambling outside of the Deadwood and tribal lands.
Despite the difficulties these rules create, the state is still eager to get its hands on the tax revenue from online gambling. Policymakers are expected to create a new bill that will permit statewide online gambling if the servers are located within the Deadwood lands.
The long process of creating legislation began in 2021, and citizens of the state can expect to be able to begin placing bets sometime in 2022.
After a long and grueling period of policy by the state legislature, Virginia began taking legal online sports bets in January 2021. Unibet launched the first online mobile betting app in Virginia around the same time.
The number of bettors using mobile devices overtook those using traditional computers some time ago, so this app is likely to be extremely popular with Virginia’s gamblers.
The first legal sports bets in the state of Washington were finally being taken by bookies in September 2021. Sadly, for citizens of Washington, the bill which was passed in March 2020 specifically states that only in-person betting is to be legalized, with no exceptions. The state’s governor and senators do not seem keen on the idea of allowing statewide online or mobile gambling either.
It appears that Washington state refuses to be swayed by the potentially huge revenue that online gambling would generate for the state. Sadly, it doesn’t look like online betting will be available to citizens of Washington anytime soon.
Because the federal government appears to have little interest in passing any kind of nationwide online gambling legislation, it’s no surprise that the American capital city has very few opportunities to participate in legal sports betting.
The district lottery does offer some sports betting opportunities, but as they have a monopoly over this area their lines are much worse than the market averages. Citizens of D.C. shouldn’t be tempted to participate in these overpriced betting opportunities.
The state legislature in Wyoming was expected to vote against introducing online gambling to the state, so it was a surprise when lawmakers approved statewide online and mobile betting. This makes Wyoming the second state to legalize online gambling despite land-based sportsbooks being prohibited.
In September 2021, citizens of Wyoming celebrated as they could finally place legal bets on their favorite team.
Not on the List? Don’t Panic Yet…
There are also several states which have either passed laws that will see online gambling begin in 2022 or are expected to do so. Here’s a short round-up of what we have discovered regarding those states:
It’s been a long time coming, but the New York Gaming Commission has finally opened for business, paving the way for online and mobile betting within the state beginning in January 2022.
The governor of New York has been keeping a close eye on its closest neighbor New Jersey. Once he realized just how successful online gambling has been in New Jersey, it was only a matter of time before New York joined the club as well.
New Jersey was one of the first states in the US to permit online gambling and financial researchers have estimated that New York is losing out on tax revenues of more than $200 million annually as a result of New Yorkers driving across the border to place their bets in New Jersey.
Online gambling has already been approved in sports-mad Ohio, the home of more than half a dozen elite sports teams that compete in the upper echelons of their preferred sport. Legislators finally got their act together in late 2021 and presented a bill to Governor Mike DeWine who gave it his immediate approval.
It’s now up to the gambling companies to swing into action and get their servers co-located in an Ohio data center so that wagering can begin. How long this will take is difficult to estimate; optimists believe everything will be in place for the beginning of the football season in September 2022, but pessimists say this is unrealistic.
Either way, the law amusingly insists that operators MUST have betting up and running before the end of 2022!
The decision of whether to allow online sports betting was given to the public in Maryland through a referendum which was held at the same time as the November 2020 elections. The public said YES, finally bringing legal, regulated online sports betting to the final Mid-Atlantic state.
Maryland needs to set up a regulator and deal with all the red tape involved in legalizing this popular pastime, but current estimates suggest that citizens will be able to begin placing bets sometime around Fall 2022.
Like Maryland, voters were offered asked if they approved of three constitutional amendments when voting at the November 2020 election, but none of them mention anything about online sports betting – it appears citizens of Nebraska will be allowed to place legal sports bets, but only in person.
Someone needs to have a sharp word with the governor of Nebraska – it is 2022 and the state is making constitutional amendments to allow something which is already legal throughout most of the Western world and has been for decades. Why on earth would he go to all this trouble without addressing online betting as well? It’s a strange world we live in, isn’t it?
The situation in Wisconsin is almost identical to that in Nebraska, so I won’t repeat it here. This will surely be a huge disappointment for citizens who live in either of these states.
Phew, that was a real journey! Are you excited about online betting finally coming to your state? We hope so! But what if your state doesn’t appear in the list above, does that mean online betting is banned in your state? Absolutely not!
We have only listed the states where there have been publicly documented legal steps that have taken place during 2021. For those who live in a state that wasn’t mentioned, we’ll finish up with a simple table that shows every state that offers some kind of legal online gambling. We hope this helps, and thank you for reading!
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