Voters in Three States Approve Sports Betting at the Polls

Nov 06, 2020 12:11Tim Ronaldson
Voters approve sports betting

Much of the attention in the General Election has been on the (still undecided) race for president in the United States.

But, sports wagering was a hot topic at the polls in three states.

After all the results came in this week, voters in South Dakota, Louisiana and Maryland approved sports betting in their state – and it really wasn’t even close.

Voters in Maryland approved of sports betting by a margin of 66% to 34%. Voters in South Dakota approved it by a vote of roughly 58% to 42%. And in Louisiana, 55 of the state’s 64 parishes approved of legal sports wagering as well.

With voters in these three states approving of the ballot measures, there are now 25 states that have legalized sports betting in the U.S. Of that total, 19 states (plus Washington, D.C.) have some form of sports betting already in place.

Six other states (which includes the three that passed it this week) have laws on the books that allow it, but have not started offering sports wagering just yet.

In addition, three other states also have legislation active that would legalize sports betting in Massachusetts, Ohio and Hawaii.

Sports Betting in Maryland

Now that voters in Maryland have approved of sports betting in their state, it’s up to the state’s General Assembly (which is controlled by Democrats) and Governor Larry Hogan (who is a Republican).

As in other states, Maryland’s government needs to decide:

  • Whether to allow just in-person betting or mobile betting, too
  • How companies can apply for a license, and which companies can do so
  • Whether any teams, games or leagues will be unavailable to vote

Maryland already has some casinos in place, so they could decide to model their legislation similar to other states that have casinos. In states such as Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada, sportsbooks are allowed to set up wagering operations within those casinos, as well as at some racetracks.

Either way, sports betting could have a huge impact on revenue for Maryland. An independent study found that the state could bring in almost $18.2 million each year from sports betting if mobile wagering is allowed, too.

Sports Betting in South Dakota

Just like Maryland, voters in South Dakota approved of sports wagering at the polls this week. It’s likely that wagering on sports will be officially offered at some point in 2021.

Lawmakers in South Dakota now also need to get to work to pass the legislation that will regulate exactly how sports betting will operate in their state. Most people in the state believe lawmakers will take the first half of next year to create proposals, debate and eventually pass legislation for sports wagering. That means it could be available for residents of the state sometime in the second half of next year.

As of right now, gambling is permitted at roughly 12 tribal casinos and roughly two dozen casinos in Deadwood. Is that where the sports wagering will form its base? Or will the state government allow sports wagering to branch out?

The trend in other parts of the country are that more conservative states have shied away from allowing online gambling. If South Dakota follows that trend, then it might only offer in-person sports wagering at one of these casinos that is already set up.

Expanding sports wagering to online forms might be difficult in South Dakota. That’s because some prominent state legislators, including Republican Governor Kristi Noem, have at one point said they were against sports wagering altogether.

Even if online wagering isn’t offered at first, though, it could eventually expand down the line.

Sports Betting in Louisiana

The voting in Louisiana was structured a little differently than in Maryland and South Dakota. In the southern state, each parish got to vote on whether they would like sports wagering there. In all but nine of the state’s parishes, voters said yes.

Some of these parishes include the more populous ones such as Lafayette, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Lawmakers have said that allowing sports wagering in New Orleans would allow the state to keep gambling revenue that is right now going to neighboring Mississippi. That state was quick to approve sports wagering, especially since they already had a robust casino system in place.

Just like Maryland and South Dakota, the work for state government officials now begins on creating legislation that will govern sports wagering. In Louisiana, many people expect this will take quite some time, though. That means sports wagers may not be offered in Louisiana until 2022.

The path to getting the legislation passed in each parish could take some extra time because of some groups that are strongly opposed to the expansion of gambling in their state. Still, voters have already spoken. So, eventually, Louisiana residents will be able to place wagers on sports.

Tim Ronaldson
Lady Liberty
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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