Movement toward legal sports betting hit a fever pitch during the first part of 2018. No fewer than a dozen states introduced or reintroduced legislation that would legalize some form of sports gambling.
All of the activity happened while the Supreme Court was considering whether to strike down the partial federal sports betting ban contained in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The case pits the state of New Jersey against the NCAA, NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB, and if the Garden State prevails, it could grease the wheels for even more states to enter the fray.
Simply put, the political environment for sports betting legalization has seen a seismic shift of late.
To measure the change in the landscape, ESPN Chalk ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of how likely it is for each jurisdiction to join Nevada in offering a full scale of legal sports betting options.
Last updated on Feb. 21, 2018.
The only state to permit a wide variety of legal sports betting, Nevada is a mature market that has existed for decades. Many states might look to Nevada for the best practices in the regulation of sports betting. If cross-state sports bets were found to be permitted under federal law, Nevada could even be designated as a national hub of sorts, via agreements with other states on topics such as oversight, liquidity, line monitoring and risk management.
2. New Jersey
Existing casinos and racetracks could probably start offering legal sports betting to customers within days or weeks of a favorable decision from the Supreme Court. One sportsbook in Monmouth Park already has been built and is just waiting to open its ticket counters. Other casinos in the state have announced plans to build sports books in existing Atlantic City locations too.
The state moved to expand its existing sports betting options in 2009, but that effort was stopped by a lawsuit filed against the state by the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA and MLB. The Delaware enabling law could be restarted, with the state's lottery already offering parlay betting options on professional football. State officials have expressed an openness to pursue various options after the Supreme Court rules.
4-9. Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia
All of these states either already have enacted state laws to allow sports betting if permitted by the Supreme Court or have fast-tracked legislation, with hearings already having taken place and, in some cases, advanced beyond the committee stage.
Moving toward legalization
10-22. California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina
Each state has introduced kick-starter legislation (or publicly announced plans to do so), with hearings and votes on the bills moving forward at different speeds.
Existing laws that could be expanded
23-24. Oregon and Montana
Both states have laws on the books that permit some form of sports betting and probably could be widened in scope, if lawmakers are so inclined. The Oregon Lottery offered its pick 'em-style game for years before mothballing it about a decade ago. The Montana Lottery currently offers a fantasy-type sports pool for football and auto racing.
No legalization activity ... yet
25-50. Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington D.C., Washington State, Wisconsin and Wyoming
All states in this category have laws that prohibit Nevada-style sports betting. Such laws would need to be repealed or amended before full-scale sports wagering would be permitted. These states do not have any publicly announced bills devoted to sports betting legalization.
Utah's anti-gambling stance is written into the state's constitution. Any change to existing state policy toward gambling would be a massive departure from decades of opposition to any form of gambling, including lottery tickets, table games and sports betting.