US Sports Betting Legislation Updates: Louisiana, Washington, Massachusetts, Ohio

  • Louisiana lawmakers approved the final two bills relating to sports betting legalization
  • The Washington Gaming Commission approved tribal gaming compact amendments
  • A Massachusetts committee will consider 19 sports betting bills on June 17
  • Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming aims to have a bill on the governor’s desk by June 30
Blue binder with "LEGISLATION" written on the spine
Lawmakers in Louisiana, Washington, Massachusetts, and Ohio have been busy advancing different forms of sports betting legislation over the past few days. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update June 22, 2021: Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards gave sports betting legislation his seal of approval as he signed SB 247 and SB 142 into law on June 22.

Plenty of progress

It has been another busy week for sports betting legislation across the United States. In Louisiana, lawmakers have approved the final two sports betting legalization bills, sending them to the governor’s desk.

sports betting is another step closer to becoming a reality

The Washington State Gaming Commission (WGC) has agreed to tribal gaming compact amendments, meaning that tribal-only sports betting is another step closer to becoming a reality.

In Massachusetts, the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies has announced a June 17 virtual hearing to discuss proposals to legalize sports betting in the state.

Finally, the Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming appears to be on track to meet its June 30 deadline to have sports betting legislation in front of Governor Mike DeWine.

Louisiana framework almost set in stone

On Thursday, Louisiana lawmakers gave their final seal of approval to two bills that finalize the regulatory framework for legal sports betting in the state. For the main bill, the Senate vote on the legislative session’s final day was 33-3 in favor of passage. This means that Senate President Patrick Page Cortez’s SB 247 heads to the desk of Governor John Bel Edwards. It is expected that he will sign this measure into law, having 20 days to do so. If this happens, it would allow sportsbooks to potentially open in time for the beginning of the 2021 NFL season in September.

SB 142 appropriates the tax revenues from sports betting. The House had already voted 78-15 in favor of the sports betting tax and fee structure bill HB 697, which the governor has since signed into law. This bill sees retail sportsbooks paying a 10% tax on net gaming proceeds from sports betting, rising to 15% for online sportsbooks.

Of the 64 parishes in Louisiana, 55 of them were in favor of legalizing sports betting when residents voted on the matter in November 2020. Lawmakers have been working on the tax rates and rules for the sector in the months since then.

Washington compacts head to the governor

In Washington State, the WGC unanimously agreed to proposed tribal gaming compact amendments for 15 tribes on Thursday. The proposed compact amendments that would allow for tribal-only sports betting will now go for review by Governor Jay Inslee.

Once the governor and tribal leaders give the green light to the final compact, the Department of Interior will then need to give its approval. Washington residents are hoping that sportsbooks might be able to open in time for the NFL season in the fall if there are no hitches.

As part of this tribal-only market, online sports betting would only be allowed from within tribal casinos. Retail sportsbooks would also be an option at these properties. Governor Inslee initially signed sports betting legislation into law in March 2020.

Considering sports betting proposals in Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies is set to hold a virtual hearing on June 17 to discuss 19 sports betting bills. This committee last held a similar hearing on the matter in May 2019, listening to two days’ worth of testimony. At the time, the idea to legalize never gained much traction. The House did attempt to legalize sports betting through an economic development bill last July, but the betting aspect was shelved at the last minute.

Numerous neighboring states like New York, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island have embraced legal sports betting. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has his own sports betting bill on the docket next week. He believes that the resulting tax revenue from sports betting could be about $35m annually.

Senate committee on track in Ohio

The Ohio Senate Select Committee on Gaming held its sixth hearing regarding sports betting legislation on Thursday and outlined its timeline for the coming days. The committee members received substitute sports betting legislation on Wednesday. The committee plans to consider potential amendments and have a final hearing and vote on the bill next Tuesday.

we want to get something done by June 30”

The hope is that the bill would then go to the Senate floor on Wednesday before heading over to the House. Speaking about the reasoning behind this timeline, Committee Chairman Senator Kirk Schuring said “we want to get something done by June 30.”

The committee’s original goal was to have legislation in front of Governor Mike DeWine by the end of June.

Some of the more notable amendments in Wednesday’s substitute bill include adding esports to the list of permitted betting options and changing rules about licenses and fees. The current legislative session in Ohio ends on December 31.