Sports Betting Tracker: Which States Will Be Next to Legalize?

  • Sports betting is continuing to expand in states across America
  • States often have differing overall takeaways on sports betting
  • States such as Missouri, Texas, and others have reason for optimism
  • Other states like Georgia and Hawaii face a bleak future for sports betting
Man crossing his fingers watching sports scores
Thirty-eight states have legalized sports betting and the biggest question now is which will be next to join the growing list. [Image:]

States push to legalize sports betting

Kentucky’s recent decision to legalize sports betting means 38 of 50 states have decided to contribute to the push for unanimity.

Despite 76% of states now boasting legal homes for sports betting, the topic is still divisive and controversial. States such as California have held up against enormous pressure from stakeholders and gambling operators, while others like Delaware have welcomed the practice with open arms since the very beginning.

many states are actively debating whether or not to legalize sports betting

Most localities can be found somewhere between the two extremes of opinion. Many states are actively debating whether or not to legalize sports betting, which is why it is important to understand what exactly is transpiring at the ground level.


Texas has a long history of opposition to sports betting, but there is more reason for optimism now than ever before. 

In February, a pair of sports betting bills were introduced to the state Congress. One of them was sponsored by Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham), a key ally of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

casinos also do not accept bets on sports in any capacity

Gambling is completely illegal in Texas outside of three tribal casinos. Those casinos also do not accept bets on sports in any capacity despite the groundswell of support nationwide.

For pro-sports betting lawmakers, legalizing sports betting is paramount for several reasons. They believe that creating a legal market would cut down on illegal gambling crime, boost taxable revenues and create more funding for the state, and also allow them to address the problems associated with gambling such as addiction.

However, Patrick, who has firm control over the Senate, has sworn to kill any attempts to legalize sports betting, which is what makes Kolkhorst’s involvement key. He also said last week that he “Couldn’t find one Senator who supported [the sports betting bill].” 

“Unless I have 15 to 16 Republicans, meaning it’s a Republican-driven bill because we’re a Republican-driven state, I’m not bringing a bill to the floor,” said Patrick. “I need Republican consensus, otherwise it’s a Democrat bill.”

Kolkhort’s proposition is a constitutional amendment that would need to be approved by state voters on the November ballot. Notably, sports betting companies have already struck partnerships with in-state entities, including BetMGM and the Houston Astros.


Missouri has actively debated sports betting for years but is yet to reach a resolution. That could soon change, however, as lawmakers and interested parties are already locked in another debate.

The pro-gambling crowd has many wealthy and influential people of interest backing the movement, including owners and representatives of local professional sports teams, including the Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals, and St. Louis Blues, among others.

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. has been the most outspoken proponent in the world of sports. He helped form a coalition of the local professional teams and has personally attended many meetings with lawmakers.

lawmakers want to tackle the issue of illegal gaming machines

A bill cleared the Missouri House last week that, if also agreed upon in the Senate and signed by the governor, would legalize sports betting. The Senate, though, has been the stumbling block for similar efforts in the past. One of the key reasons that previous attempts have failed is that lawmakers want to tackle the issue of illegal gaming machines that have popped up at convenience stores, rest stops, and restaurants. 

Sen. Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg) said that all sports betting bills will fail until video lottery terminals (VLTs) are under control. He wants to legalize them and expand their availability to help reduce crime while increasing tax funding for the state. 

Missouri locals made 8.7 million attempts to access sportsbooks in other states during the 2022 NFL season, per geo-tracking company GeoComply. Seven of Missouri’s neighboring states, now including Kentucky, have legalized sports betting. The one that hasn’t is Oklahoma, which is actively debating the topic.


Efforts to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma have picked up significantly in recent months on the back of similar movements in other states. On March 21, the state House advanced House Bill 1027 to the Senate for review. If passed, it would legalize it once and for all and would bring an end to the debate surrounding the topic.

Per the terms of the bill, sportsbooks would operate inside tribal race track casinos. Mobile and online sports betting could be added in the future, but would need to operate inside of the casinos’ jurisdiction.  

Rep. Ken Luttrell (R-Ponca City), the primary sponsor of the bill, left a few ends untied to ensure that debate can be held as opposed to an end-all-be-all discussion. If the bill is amended, it would then need to be ratified by the Senate and the House once again.

“It’s a bill that I’ve been working on for several years, in conversations with the tribes, with my gaming partners, in my districts and many other districts, across the state,” said Luttrell.

an estimated $9m in annual funding for the state

Luttrell also volunteered that the bill, in its present form, would create an estimated $9m in annual funding for the state. He added that without a legal sports betting market, that potential taxable revenue is being funneled to sportsbooks in nearby states.

Efforts have been made to pass legislation in recent years to no avail.


Vermont has had bills rejected every year since the 2018 PAPSA decision opened the door to states creating their own sports betting laws, but may be on the verge of a breakthrough.

A new bill was recently introduced with bipartisan support and advanced nearly unanimously out of the House Ways and Means Committee after an adjustment to the tax rate. It has since gone to the House Appropriations Committee for another review and eventual vote.

Like many other lawmakers, those in Vermont want to legalize sports betting to reduce the number of illegal gamblers and increase the amount of tax money generated by the state. Notably, in-person and online sports wagering is legal in all of Vermont’s border states: New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts.

Anywhere between two and six sportsbooks would be approved for operation in the state if the bill is approved. The Liquor and Lottery Department would also have to supply a yearly report on the prevalence of problem gambling within state lines, which would be shared with the Vermont Department of Mental Health, among other entities. 


Despite promising signs, Georgia is going to have to wait at least another year for sports betting after the recent legislative session ended without the requisite support.


Minnesota was heading down a promising path for sports betting proponents, but may have stumbled upon a roadblock. That roadblock is horse race tracks, which are vying to be included in the proposal making rounds of the state government.

tribes have autonomous control over gaming in Minnesota and have blocked other attempts

Last year, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association refused to support a separate sports betting bill because it did not address the horse race tracks. The tribes have autonomous control over gaming in Minnesota and have blocked other attempts in the past. The current bill would likely meet a similar fate if it is not amended to support horse racing facilities. 

South Carolina

South Carolina lawmakers are actively hearing and reviewing plans for sports betting, but, even if a compromise is reached, it would not go into effect until 2025.

State law mandates that amendments to the state constitution go before voters in the general election. Those general elections are held in even years, which would mean that there could not be a vote until near the end of 2024.

None of the three serious attempts to get sports betting bills out of committees in the state legislature succeeded. 


Hawaii, along with Utah, has not legalized gambling in any capacity. 

A bill was introduced in January that would have changed that, but it did not take long for lawmakers to strike it down. That is despite a rising illegal gambling problem befuddling local authorities and politicians that could have been resolved, or at least helped, by the legalization of sports betting.

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