US Sports Betting Legislation Updates: Massachusetts, Arizona, and South Dakota

  • The Massachusetts House could vote on a new sports betting bill as soon as Thursday
  • A state committee proposed HB 3974 for online and retail betting over the weekend
  • The Arizona Department of Gaming is finalizing its betting rules after a public comment session 
  • South Dakota has approved sports betting regulations ahead of the market’s September launch
A person holding money
Sports fans in Massachusetts, Arizona, and South Dakota could soon have the chance to place legal bets as state lawmakers continued making progress on sports betting legislation over the past week. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Spreading across the US

More Americans now have access to sports betting than ever before as local governments across the nation continue to legalize the vertical. Over the past few days, three addtional states made significant progress towards the development of their own wagering markets.

Legislators could meet as early as Thursday for the bill’s hearing

Massachusetts lawmakers have considered legalizing sports bettting since 2019. The House’s Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies released a new bill Monday which might pave the way for that to finally happen. Legislators could meet as early as Thursday for the bill’s hearing.

In Arizona, officials are attempting to formulate the state’s sports betting rules ahead of the market’s expected launch date on September 9. The third draft of Arizona’s regulations underwent a short public comment session last Friday.

Similarly, South Dakota is also attempting to finalize its sports betting regulations after a bill passed through the state legislature earlier this year. The state’s gaming regulator approved those rules last week.

Massachusetts takes its shot

Last month, the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies in Massachusetts met to discuss 19 different sports betting bills. Members of the committee voted on versions of that legislation over the weekend and have now passed an approved bill on to the House Committee on Ways and Means. If all goes to plan, the House will debate that legislation on Thursday this week.

HB 3974 would legalize both retail and online sports betting. It allows for three types of licenses, including one for casinos, one for racetracks, and a final one for mobile operators. The bill sets a tax rate of 12.5% for in-person wagering and 15% for mobile, in addition to a license application fee of $100,000.

Massachusetts lawmakers tried and failed to pass similar legislation in 2019. This year, officials have until December 31 to pass the bill before the session ends. Governor Charlie Baker has calculated that a legal market would generate tax amounting to $35m for the state.

Public has its say in Arizona

The Arizona Department of Gaming has a difficult task ahead as it prepares for the launch of its sports betting market. The department announced a target launch date of September 9 last month. However, it still has a lot of work to do before operators can begin taking their first bets.

The short session lasted only 15 minutes

Last week, the department took another major step towards that goal. It held a virtual public comment session on Friday for the third draft of its sports betting rules. The short session lasted only 15 minutes and included brief comments from FanDuel and Kindred Group regarding the wording of certain regulations.

Under the new rules, Arizona will grant licenses for ten Arizona tribes and ten professional sports franchises. Arizona currently has 22 tribal casinos run by 15 gaming tribes.

Now that Friday’s session is complete, Arizona Department of Gaming director Ted Vogt said the body can begin to form the final version of those rules. During the session, he said: “We are going to come up with a final format of the rules relatively soon and then provide a much more solid timeframe on next steps moving forward.”

South Dakota rules get green light

As in Arizona, South Dakota lawmakers are also racing against the clock to pass necessary sports betting legislation. The South Dakota Commission on Gaming (SDMG) hopes to approve operators in its September 8 meeting with the aim of launching the market on the first day of the football season on September 9.

Last week, the government body amended and approved final sports betting regulations. The rules will go before the legislature on August 2. For now, the SDMG is assessing the candidates for its sports betting licenses. Reportedly, the body has received applications from at least ten operators, although it has not released any names.

In addition to high-profile operators such as DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars Entertainment, the Dakota Nation could also put its name forward for a license. The tribal body owns and operates three casinos in the tourist town of Deadwood.