These States Will Be the First to Legalize Sports Betting After Landmark Supreme Court Ruling

In a landmark ruling in May 2018, the Supreme Court deemed individual states free to authorize sports betting. While this is hardly a green light for instantaneous action, the ruling does allow states to make their own decision regarding the pros and cons of legalized sports betting in their casinos, racetracks, and other venues. Mostly, it comes down to money.

Sports betting is already legal in states like Nevada and Pennsylvania, but this new court ruling has countless other states weighing the options of enacting new laws that could inflate profits beyond belief. Using information collected by USA Today, as well as other outside sources when necessary, we created a list of states most likely to implement changes in the near future.

Ranging from possible, to likely (page 9), to very likely (page 14), here is a list of 15 states that are making moves to legalize sports betting within their borders.

States where legalized sports betting is POSSIBLE

Jake Sindberg of Wisconsin displays his betting tickets

Several states are considering laws that would make sports betting legal. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

While many states have announced aggressive plans to enact pro-sports betting legislation, others are still testing the waters. We’ll begin with the seven states that are considering this change and where residents could participate in lawful sports wagering within the next year or two.

NextA Western state considering a big change


Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks at the 28th Annual Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey called the Supreme Court’s decision “positive news.” | Maury Phillips/Getty Images for Leigh Steinberg

Sports betting remains illegal, but lawmakers in Arizona seem to have an increased appetite for it following the Supreme Court’s recent ruling. Opposition still exists and tribal interests only complicate matters, but Governor Doug Ducey called the decision “positive news” and tweeted, “We have been working on a modernized gaming compact. This ruling gives Arizona options that could benefit our citizens and our general fund.”

Next: Some say yes, some say no


The betting line and some of the more than 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl LI

Sports betting is already legal in California’s neighbor Nevada. Will the Golden State follow suit? | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

State Assemblymember Adam Gray reiterated his plans to push forward with a pro-sports betting constitutional amendment he introduced in July 2017 to The Sacramento Bee, saying that it is “time to bring this multibillion-dollar industry out of the shadows.” All other forms of sports wagering and gambling is regulated in the state currently and a hearing is possible before the legislative summer recess, despite opposition from the California Nations Indian Gaming Association.

Next: Sports betting is in this state’s future


Paul George and Lance Stephenson team up with MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard.

A portion of sports betting proceeds would go to leagues like the NBA under a proposed Indiana bill. | Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Input from the MLB and NBA led to a proposed Indiana betting bill that would allocate a 1% integrity fee to sports leagues and a 9.25% tax on sports-related revenue. When USA Today asked Rep. Alan Morrison for his thoughts on the recent hearing, he suggested that legalized sports betting in Indiana has a “fairly good” chance of passing sometime late next year.

Next: Bills are already in place


Harrah's Metropolis

Wagering on sports could become legal at Illinois casinos, like this one in Metropolis. | Jason Davis/Getty Images for Harrah’s Metropolis

State lawmakers introduced multiple bills in January 2018 that would “authorize sports betting or electronic sports betting” specifically under the Illinois Horse Racing Act of 1975. Other bills would allow sports wagering in facilities only with a 12.5% operator tax on gross revenue. The changes are likely still far off, as no formal vote has been taken as of mid-May 2018.

Next: Discussions are looming


Teacher with tablet in front of elementary school class

A proposed law in Tennessee would earmark betting proceeds for K-12 education. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Though a timeline has not yet been established, Tennessee state Senator Brian Kelsey took to Twitter to affirm his pro-stance on sports betting. He plans to introduce legislation legalizing the actions with all related proceeds going to K-12 education. The Tennessee General Assembly has halted for the year, but discussions will likely resume at the start of the new legislative year.

Next: Money talks in this state


Oklahoma State Capital building

The Oklahoma legislature has considered legalized sports betting. | mj0007/Getty Images

Legislatures considered legalizing sports betting in Oklahoma in their most recent session. However, the House Bill dubbed the “ball and dice” bill focused only on allowing casinos to offer “ball and dice” games rather than expanded sports gambling rights. Betting legislation could gain momentum in 2019, though. The law in question is expected to generate $24 million a year with most profits going toward education — something that appeases both sides of the aisle.

Next: A state falling behind in the race for legalization


Vacationers Laura Mazzarella and Mark Reedy of Baltimore, Maryland

A proposed Lousiana law would only legalize sports betting in racinos, not casinos like Harrah’s in New Orleans (pictured above). | Sean Gardner/Getty Images

New legislation introduced in March 2018 “authorizes additional games and sports betting at eligible live horse racing facilities.” But the fact that this bill only allows sports betting at a small number of land based-racinos in the state angers state Senator Danny Martiny who says this decision makes us “the laughingstock of the country.”

His continued requests to consider additional gambling efforts for the state were declined, despite neighboring Mississippi’s substantial forward progress on the same matter.

Next: Legal sports betting in these states is even more likely

States where legalized sports betting is LIKELY

In other cases, some lawmakers have begun making moves to fast-track pro-sports betting legislation. The 5 states below are leaning toward legalized sports betting and could enact laws sooner rather than later.


Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy

Governor Daniel Malloy has said the state must consider whether to legalize sports wagering. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

State lawmakers in Connecticut are itching for action after the Supreme Court’s ruling, which suggests a pro-betting change is imminent. Governor Dannel Malloy issued a statement hinting he may call a special session to discuss these issues saying, “It is incumbent on us to consider the question of legalized sports betting in a thoughtful way that ensures our approach is responsible, smart, and fully realizes the economic potential that this opportunity provides.”

Next: Conflicting arguments

New York

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo And NYC Mayor de Blasio Attend Opening Of Cornell Tech Campus On Roosevelt Island

Andrew Cuomo has said he doesn’t want to rush forward with legalization. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Governor Andrew Cuomo approved language in 2013 that would allow wagering on athletic events should the federal government lift the ban. Following the ruling, Cuomo then stated he is in no rush to move forward with any action.

Meanwhile, Sen. John J. Bonacic introduced 14 pages of legislation in March 2018 addressing both in-person and mobile sports betting in New York, including verbiage about a “sports betting integrity fund”, better eligibility, and tax rates. It’s unclear who will win the battle, but New York’s final decision will likely be swayed by neighboring states.

Next: Changes coming in the new year


Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes

Soon, Iowa fans may be able to place bets on the Hawkeyes. | Stacy Revere/Getty Images

The 2018 legislative session closed without any vote on a bill that would allow online and on-site sports betting and lobbying at licensed casinos and racetracks in Iowa. Still, state Rep. Jake Highfill said he plans to introduce a new bill that would legalize sports betting statewide in January 2019 as well as wagering on college and professional sports events.

Next: Verbiage that indicates change is imminent


Gamblers play slot machines at the grand opening of the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino

Mississippi wasted no time changing its law to allow sports betting at casinos like this one in Biloxi. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Casinos could be governing sports books within months in Mississippi. The Gaming Commission is wasting no time legalizing college and professional sports betting with new proposed rules issued just days after the court’s ruling.

“We did make modifications to Gaming Control Act that would allow for the Gaming Commission to regulate sports betting if it were ever to be overturned at the federal level,” Rep. Scott DeLano told the Sun Herald.

Next: Proactive measures were taken in this state

Rhode Island

Governor of Rhode Island Gina Raimondo

Governor Gina Raimondo has already included sports betting revenue in her state’s 2019 budget. | Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Fortune/Time Inc

Rhode Island was just biding time waiting for an opportunity to strike. An active bill from January 2018 would allow sports betting operated by the state lottery at existing casinos. Governor Gina Raimondo even included sports betting revenue in the state’s budget for the 2019 fiscal year a month before the court’s final decision.

Rhode Island also talked shop at a sports betting hearing held on May 15 that included testimony from NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour representatives.

Next: Expect a change in the near future in these states

States where legal sports betting is VERY LIKELY

Other states have made very bold statements regarding their support of legal sports betting and have proactively enacted laws ready for approval following a favorable ruling. Residents in these three states can expect legalized action in the very near future.

New Jersey

The skyline and Atlantic Ocean New Jersey.

Visitors to Atlantic City will soon be able to bet on sports. | AppalachianViews/iStock/Getty Images

The 2014 state law signed by Chris Christie that partially repealed sports betting is now in place. This court victory was also the spark that fueled the most recent Supreme Court ruling in May. Some New Jersey establishments were primed to start accepting wages over Memorial Day, but the need for additional legal regulations delayed that goal.

Governor Phil Murphy says he will enact a new law with the necessary regulations “in the very near future.”

Next: Change is on the horizon

West Virginia

betting bet sport

Sports betting is coming to West Virginia. | scyther5/Getty Images

West Virginia is another state that was proactively working toward legalized sports betting prior to the high court’s ruling. A March 2018 law includes a provision to allow both on-site and online sports wagering as soon as the federal law permitted. That day has come, and sports betting will soon be legal statewide. Lawmakers and interested parties held a closed-door meeting to discuss the law in early May.

Next: This state could be the first to legalize sports betting


A bettor places wagers on some of the more than 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl LI

Gamblers will have more opportunities to wager on sports in Delaware. | Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Sports betting in Delaware is limited to multi-game bets on NFL games, but that’s set to change given the recent court ruling. Governor John Carney issued a press release claiming the state will authorize full-scale betting within a month. This is based on a 2009 law that was enacted but never implemented following litigation filed by the same five sports leagues that also sued New Jersey.

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