States Set to Combine Sports Betting Offerings?

An Ohio lawmaker is pitching the idea of interstate sports betting compacts. This would see various states combine their offerings and potentially help get rid of the major illegal betting markets once and for all.

Sports betting is going to become more popular in the future. In 2019, many more states are likely to legalize sports betting in their jurisdictions, which will make interstate agreements a strong possibility.

States move to legalize sports betting

Experts believe that more than a dozen states in the US will be legalizing sports betting during 2019.

They also believe that eight of these states could have their sportsbooks up and running by the commencement of the football seasons in 2019. This is a major event in the sports betting calendar, with pro and college football being popular sports to bet on.

Jake Williams, vice-president for regulatory and legal affairs at Sportradar, spoke on this issue during a recent conference at Capitol Hill. Numerous stakeholders of the gambling sector and central lawmakers attended.

Currently, five states are operating sportsbooks, with Williams estimating that another four to eight states will have sportsbook offerings by September 2019. He believes it is possible that as many as 24 states will be operating sportsbooks in the next two years.

The states currently offering sports betting are Delaware, Nevada, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Jersey.  Rhode Island and Pennsylvania are nearly ready to open their sportsbooks and one New Mexico tribal casino is operating a sportsbook in New Mexico due to a loophole in state laws.

Some of the other states that could viably open sportsbooks in 2019 include Michigan, Oregon, Ohio, New York, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Connecticut and Arkansas.

Many other states have bills under consideration at various stages of completion. The opening of the 2019 legislative session across the country will spark tremendous debate on the topic.

Potential interstate agreements

Ohio state senator Bill Coley is pushing the idea of multi-state agreements in the sports betting space.

Coley spoke on the issue during a US Sports Betting Policy Summit in Washington. He said: “If you work out a state-to-state compact where data is shared, and you agree on some protocols, I think you can get rid of a lot of the bad things people are worried about.

“Things like casinos not taking bets, anti-money laundering, match-fixing… when you have the ability to look at that, it makes it hard for the bad guys to run and hide.”

One of the main pieces of legislation that currently works against this approach is the Wire Act, so there would have to be extensive interstate cooperation for a multi-state agreement to happen.

There was also a congressional hearing regarding the idea of the federal government regulating the sector, but nothing much came out of that.

Interstate agreements in Ohio

There has been a lot of talk of legalizing sports betting in Ohio. It appears that this could become a reality in 2019.

Sportradar hosted the above-mentioned Capitol Hill conference, where Coley also spoke. Other speakers included Michigan’s state representative Brandt Iden, the chief legal officer at Draft Kings Stanton Dodge and the vice-president for sports and race operations at stations casinos, Art Manteris.

Coley was asked how such an interstate agreement would work in his state. He said that he could almost guarantee that this would be a feature of a state sports betting bill.

Manteris, however, urged caution as it is a risky approach to take. He spoke about the chance that over-regulation could stifle the burgeoning sector.

There is the issue of 50 different states potentially passing their own individual bills. This is a lot of work that could be mitigated through interstate agreements.

Coley believes that a governmental agency that would monitor and screen any suspicious activities needs to be set up. He believes Nevada would be an ideal location for this agency, as the industry has such a strong presence there already.

This debate is certain to rumble on, and will provide food for thought in a lot of states that are considering legalization of sports betting.