Two leading candidates for legalizing sports betting are due to discuss bills this week.
With support from Governor Doug Ducey, the legislature, professional sports leagues, and the Arizona Native American game tribes, Arizona will take a major step forward when it comes to a pair of sports betting for 2021.
Given that these major policymakers and stakeholders appear to be focused on sports betting, gambling industry observers believe Arizona could be among the first states to pass laws this year.
Kansas will also hear its sports betting bill later this week. Although key issues like regulatory oversight and licensing eligibility need to be resolved, Kansas appears to be another leading legalization candidate – especially as its neighbors are considering similar steps.
Here’s what to expect from these two states this week, and where several other sports betting hopes stand in 2021 as they further prepare for their respective legislative sessions.
Scheduled Arizona Sports Betting and Senate hearings
Legislators in both the Arizona House and Senate will include a couple of supplemental bills this week that will allow for up to 10 online and retail sports betting licenses for the state’s Indian tribes.
The bill would also allow up to 10 additional retail sports betting licenses for venues like horse racing tracks.
The House Committee on Commerce will hear its bill for sports betting on Tuesday at 2 p.m. local time. The Senate Commerce Committee will do so on Wednesday at 2 p.m. local time.
If passed, the state’s professional sports facilities with at least 10,000 spectators, as well as certain motorsport and golf courses, could also open sports betting for retailers.
This means potential sports betting at the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes, and the MLB’s Arizona Diamondbacks. TPC Scottsdale, which last week hosted the PGA Tour’s annual Phoenix Open, could open an on-site sports betting facility as well as the Phoenix Raceway.
Arizona could be only the third jurisdiction after Washington DC and Illinois to allow stadium sports betting. Maryland and New York also introduced stadium sports betting legislation this year.
The bill has public support from the NBA, MLB, Cardinals, the Governor’s Office, BetMGM, and several Arizona tribes.
In addition, the bills put up for discussion this week would legalize daily fantasy sports. Arizona is one of the last remaining states where top DFS operators like DraftKings and FanDuel do not operate.
The sports betting and daily fantasy discussions are part of a larger compact negotiation with the state’s recognized gambling tribes and their government treaty that grants them certain exclusive gaming rights for a portion of the proceeds.
Both the tribes and the government seem optimistic that they can hit a deal that will allow more gaming options in Native American casinos in addition to sports betting.
First Kansas Sports Betting hearing set
Kansas legislature will pass a bill to allow up to 12 online sports betting licenses for commercial casinos, as well as expanded retail options for Native American tribes and the state’s largest motor sports venue.
The Senate proposal would allow each of the four Kansas commercial casinos to work with up to three online operators.
PointsBet has already signed a deal with Kansas Crossing Casino and Hotel, and Barstool Sportsbook partner Penn National already operates Hollywood Casino on Kansas Speedway. The Speedway could open a designated sports betting area but not accept retail bets.
The Senate Committee on Federal and State Affairs will examine the bill at the hearings on Wednesday and Thursday. The testimony should begin at 10:30 a.m. local time on both days.
Democratic Governor Laura Kelly and the Republican-led lawmaker both support sports betting, but policy makers need to work through key details like tax rates and licensing eligibility, among other things.
There are also regulatory concerns between the state lottery that oversees the casinos and the Kansas Racing and Gambling Commission.
These departments, along with a session restricted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, stalled and ultimately killed efforts to legalize sports betting last year.
With health care costs rising and tax revenues falling, elected officials seem more motivated than ever to legalize sports betting, especially as neighboring Missouri is also considering legalized betting.
Other status updates
Some other states with hopes of sports betting for 2021 have not planned any action as of Monday.
New York: New York’s most watched hopeful bills for mobile sports betting in 2021 are still awaiting further action in both the congregation and the Senate.
While they have passed their respective chambers’ racing committees with no problems, the bills may not get moving until Governor Andrew Cuomo specifies his position in online sports betting.
The governor’s original proposal limited the number of eligible sports bets, a sharp contrast to the 14 advocated in the existing legislation.
Missouri: Missouri has further measures planned for one of the six sports betting that has been launched to date. Legislators are still considering video lottery terminal legislation, which is vehemently opposed by state casinos and could delay or derail hopes of sports betting through 2021 until a solution is found.
Massachusetts: The year-round meeting in Massachusetts gives policymakers more time than most states to draft laws, but it can take a back seat to less financially urgent matters like legal sports betting.
Elected officials, including Republican Governor Charlie Baker and several Democrats in court, have tabled several proposals this year, but none have met with much approval.