US Sports Betting Legislation Updates: Nebraska, Connecticut, South Dakota, Ohio, Washington

  • A bill that would legalize retail sports betting in Nebraska is now on the governor’s desk
  • Connecticut House voted in favor of amended tribal compacts that would allow sports betting
  • South Dakota Commission on Gaming approved the retail sportsbooks framework in Deadwood
  • A hearing in Ohio on a betting bill received criticism from retailers and sports teams
  • Negotiations continued in Washington State over tribal casino online sports betting boundaries
US flag lapel pin
A number of states made advancements this week with key gambling legislation and tribal gaming compacts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Movers and shakers

Once again, it has been a busy week for gambling legislation in the United States. Retail sports betting looks to be on the way in Nebraska as legislation heads to the desk of Governor Pete Ricketts. The Connecticut House has voted in favor of amended tribal gaming compacts that would allow tribes to offer sports betting and daily fantasy sports contests. This measure now goes to the Senate.

in Ohio, numerous industry groups aired their unhappiness during a hearing this week

The rules and regulations for retail sports betting in the South Dakota town of Deadwood are now close to final approval. In Ohio, numerous industry groups aired their unhappiness during a hearing this week regarding proposed betting pools that are a part of sports betting legislation. Sports teams in the state also want changes made to legislation so that they get licenses earmarked for them. Finally, negotiations continued in Washington State over allowing tribes to offer online sports betting in adjacent areas outside casino floors.

Nebraska sports betting in governor’s hands

If there are no hitches with the governor, Nebraskans could be able to place sports bets by the fall. State legislators voted on the bill on Thursday after amendments last week removed online sports betting and wagering on in-state college teams from the proposal. The result of Thursday’s vote was 44-3-2 in favor of passage. A companion bill also got approval.

The governor has until June 2 to sign the bills. If he decides to veto the legislation, the legislature has the ability to override his decision the following day. Governor Ricketts has spoken out against gambling expansion in recent years. The current legislative session in Nebraska comes to an end on June 10.

Nebraska residents voted last November in favor of legalizing sports betting. As part of this legislation, retail sportsbooks would be permitted at licensed racetrack enclosures. Gross gaming revenue from sportsbook would be subject to a 20% tax rate. Current estimates are that that the first full year of Nebraska sports betting in 2022 could generate up to $50m in tax revenue.

Emergency clauses that are part of LB 561 mean that the application process can begin as soon as the bill gets final approval. The Nebraska Gaming Commission will also be able to immediately start creating the regulatory framework for the retail sports betting sector.

Progress for Connecticut tribal compact amendments

In Connecticut, the House has approved a gambling agreement with the two federally recognized tribes in the state. Governor Ned Lamont had initially agreed to the deal with the tribes in March before the House finally voted on the matter on Thursday. The vote was 121-21 in favor of approval and the measure now makes its way over to the Senate.

This agreement is with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes. If the measure ultimately gets approval, it will amend the existing tribal gaming compacts to allow the tribes to offer online gambling, daily fantasy sports, and sports betting. The state would get a revenue share from these activities. Expectations are that the Senate will approve these amended compacts. The next step would then be getting federal approval.

The Connecticut Lottery Corporation would also be able to offer online and retail sports betting as part of the deal. It could sublicense these operations to the state-licensed parimutuel operator Sportech. The online sports betting tax rate would be 18% for the initial five years, rising to 20% for the next five-year period. Retail sportsbooks and fantasy sports would be subject to a 13.75% tax rate.

Commenting after the House vote on Thursday, Mashantucket Pequot tribe chairman Rodney Butler spoke about how this agreement has been years in the making. He said: “For our Tribe, gaming is about much more than business; it is a means by which we rebuild our nation, educate our children, and take care of our elders.”

Sports betting on track in South Dakota

The South Dakota Commission on Gaming approved the new rules and regulations on Tuesday for legal sports betting in the town of Deadwood. The measure will now go to the legislature’s Interim Rules Review Committee next month. If it gets approval from the committee, the regulations will go into effect on July 1.

The hope is that sportsbooks will be able to launch in time for the beginning of the NFL season in September. South Dakotans voted last November in favor of legalizing sports betting, but only in Deadwood. Only retail sportsbooks will be allowed, not online.

Airing grievances in Ohio

In Ohio, many people are not happy with proposals that are part of a sports betting legalization bill. The Ohio Select Committee on Gaming held a hearing on the legislation on Wednesday and received plenty of harsh words.   

 it’s the most unusable and unworkable thing I’ve ever seen”

The main point of contention for Ohio Bowling Centers Association executive vice president David Corey is the proposed $20 ticket betting pools that retailers in the state would sell. He worked through an example, seemingly showing how these pools are “basically a scam.” He said: “It’s novel, it sounds good, but it’s the most unusable and unworkable thing I’ve ever seen.”

The Ohio Bowling Centers Association, Ohio lottery operator Intralot, and the Ohio Grocers Association all want customers to be able to place normal sports bets at lottery kiosks rather than buy win/lose betting pool tickets.

Sports teams in Ohio are not happy with the current plans for issuing sports betting licenses, either. A representative from Cleveland Browns owner the Haslam Group said that the current proposed framework provides “no pathway for Ohio’s professional sports business.” They want licenses earmarked for professional sports organizations. Lawmakers were hoping that Senate Bill 176 would get final approval next month so sportsbooks could be potentially ready to go live in time for the NFL season.

Debate over betting boundaries in Washington

In Washington State, lawmakers are in the process of deciding on the boundaries for online sportsbooks in the state’s tribal casinos. A joint state Senate committee meeting took place on Wednesday regarding the matter.

The proposals as part of proposed gaming compact amendments with the state’s 15 tribes would allow mobile sports betting beyond just the casino floor. It would also be permitted in adjacent restaurants, hotels, parking garages, and entertainment areas. Those who oppose the move outside the casino floor say that this would expand or change the legislation that was initially agreed upon.

Washington is one of just three states that only allows tribes to offer sports betting. A public hearing on the proposals will happen on June 10, after which a vote will take place. Final approval will be needed by Governor Jay Inslee and the tribal leaders before the amendments go to the US Department of the Interior. Like authorities in other states, tribes hope to have sportsbooks ready to go for the upcoming NFL season.