Legal Gambling in the US – Updates for 2020

Written by: Cliff Spiller, Online Casino and Game Expert
The Legality of US Online Casinos 2 (1)

2019 was a busy year for the United States in terms of states’ gambling legislation. Legal online and brick and mortar wagering have been at the center of attention for lawmakers. Currently, 48 states in the US allow some type of live betting. Hawaii and Utah do not allow gambling.

Online poker and casino games are available to players in each state, yet it is still not fully regulated. The OnlineUnitedStatesCasinos research team has reviewed and compiled all the most relevant legislation updates by states that will have an impact on US players in 2020.

The following table outlines the current status of legal US gambling as of December 31, 2019.

New HampshireYesNoYes
New JerseyYesYesYes
New MexicoYesNoYes
New YorkYesNoYes
North CarolinaYesNoYes
North DakotaYesNoNo
Rhode IslandYesNoYes
South CarolinaNoNoNo
South DakotaYesNoNo
West VirginiaYesYesYes
Washington DCNoNoYes

If you are unsure about the legality of gambling in your state, below you will find the information on the legislation updates in each state as of December 2019. With lawmakers turning their heads towards gambling, we expect more significant updates to come this year. 


Alabama Gambling Laws

In March 2018, State Senator Paul Sanford (R) introduced Senate Bill 326, which would have legalized multi-state lottery betting like Powerball and Mega Millions. The bill might have gained support because Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R) sought to pass the Alabama state lottery bill in 2015, though the measure failed.

Only three months later, Paul Sanford lost an election in a stunner to State Rep. Katie Arrington (R), who ran as a pro-Trump primary challenger. With the bill’s sponsor sure to be out of office by the end of the year, SB 326 stalled.

Attorney General Steve Marshall’s court battle with the Houston Economic Development Association (HEDA) came to an end in September. HEDA, which owns Center Stage bingo hall in Southern Alabama, agreed to remove video lottery terminals (VLTs) from the venue. HEDA agreed to stop two-ball betting, as well, though Center Stage continues to offer paper bingo.


Alaska Gambling Laws

Alaska had no significant gaming laws introduced in 2019, and no one expects legislative activity in 2020. Alaska has such restrictive gaming laws, it doesn’t even have a state lottery.

A few bingo halls and gaming venues exist, but these are tribal gaming establishments that offer only bingo and pull-tabs.


Arizona Gambling Laws

After the US Supreme Court repealed the PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act)federal ban on sports betting in 46 states, Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, and Attorney General Mark Brnovich said their state might legalize sports betting at tribal casinos.

Governor Ducey said his administration might look to legalize single-game sports bets through amending the Arizona Tribal-State Gaming Compact. Mark Brnovich gave his support for the idea.


Arkansas Gambling Laws

In November 2018, Arkansas voters passed Issue 4 with 54% of the vote. The referendum asked voters to approve casino legislation in four counties: Garland, Crittenden, Jefferson, and Pope. Southland Racing Corporation will expand the Southland greyhound track in Crittenden County.

Oaklawn Jockey Club plans to build a casino on the site of the Oaklawn horse track in Garland County. The Racing Commission will oversee the licensing process for the Jefferson County and Pope County casinos. Arkansas legalized land-based sports betting in 2018 but denied these bookmakers the right to launch mobile sports betting apps.


California Gambling Laws

California saw little betting legislation in 2019, which is an oddity. The years 2012 to 2017 saw at least one online poker bill – and sometimes as many as three – introduced to the California state legislature.

State Senator Roderick Wright, State Senator Lou Correa, Assemblyman Mike Gatto, Assemblyman Adam Gray, and Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer each introduced bills over the years. Online poker bills failed on the same issue each time: should PokerStars be allowed into California or banned as a “bad actor”.

On PokerStars’ side were the Morongo Tribe of Cabazon, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, and the Bicycle Poker Club in Los Angeles. Against PokerStars were Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, the Pala Tribe, and the Agua Caliente Tribe. After the San Manuel Band pulled support for PokerStars in 2016, a decision called a “titanic shift in the landscape”, the pro-online poker faction lost momentum.

Reggie Jones-Sawyer, the top advocate for online poker, said no new legislation would be introduced in 2018 to allow “some people” “time to heal”. Jones-Sawyer said he hoped California could move forward with a new online poker bill in 2019.


Colorado Gambling Laws

Colorado approved sports betting at land-based casinos in November 2019. Online and mobile sports wagering apps tied to those venues can launch on May 15, 2020. In August 2018, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman gave her opinion that sports betting is prohibited under the state’s current Criminal Code, but is not subject to state constitutional restrictions.

Coffman’s opinion means land-based casinos and racetracks cannot open sportsbooks, but a constitutional amendment is not needed to change the law. Thus, the Colorado state legislature can legalize sports betting without a statewide referendum on the issue.


Connecticut Gambling Laws

A Bridgeport casino bill passed in the Connecticut House of Representatives by a 77-73 vote in April 2018. The next week, the bill failed to gain enough support in the Connecticut Senate.

State Rep. Charlie Stallworth (D-Bridgeport), a supporter of the bill, said although the bill failed in 2018, “We would do the process again next year.” If passed, gaming companies would be allowed to apply for a Bridgeport casino license, with MGM Resorts known to have an interest in building in the city within an hour’s drive of New York City.

Meanwhile, a sports betting bill failed in the legislature. Departing Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy negotiated with the state’s Native American tribal casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Casino, about a sportsbook law. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz said it would be “foolish” to fall behind other states on sports betting. Deputy House Speaker Robert Godfrey took the opposite view because he wanted to see how other states handled integrity fees.

Referencing the New York Yankees’ owners’ lack of need for an integrity fee, Robert Godfrey said, “I’m going to give the Steinbrenners more money?”


Delaware Gambling Laws

As of December 31, 2019, Delaware has legal online poker, casinos, and sportsbooks. Delaware was the first US state to change its sports betting laws after the US Supreme Court repealed the PASPA federal ban on sportsbooks.

Delaware previously had legal sports lotteries, a form of parlay wagering in which gamblers could wager on the outcome of three or more sporting events in one bet. In early June 2018, Delaware legalized single-game sports betting.

Now Delaware’s three racetrack-casinos – Dover Downs, Delaware Park, and Harrington Raceway – have full land-based sportsbooks.


Florida Gambling Laws

In November 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 3, an anti-casinos initiative. The Seminole Tribe and The Disney Co. paid a combined $10 million to back the referendum, which assured the state legislature could not approve gambling expansion. Instead, any new law must be approved through a statewide referendum.

Amendment 13, a referendum on whether greyhound racing should be banned, also passed in the November election. During the Amendment 13 debate, proponents of the ban alleged the sport leads to mistreatment of the dogs. Though dog races were banned, greyhound tracks gained the right to offer simulcasting and slots. Amendment 13 takes effect in 2021.


Georgia Gambling Laws

Rep. Ron Stephens supports a casino bill since 2014, though measures failed to gain traction in 2015, 2016, and 2017. Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Jim Murren of MGM Resorts, and Tilman Fertitta of Golden Nugget each toured the area to scout casinos.

Departing Governor Nathan Deal said he would veto the bill, so it never gained traction. Governor Brian Kemp is against casinos, so this legislation appears dead in the water. State Rep. Trey Kelley supports House Bill 118, which would regulate daily fantasy sports, but not sports betting. The bill has not reached the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives yet but remains active.


Idaho Gambling Laws

Idaho rejected a measure that would have allowed instant horse racing video terminals. Idaho has one of the most restrictive sets of gambling laws in America, so it is no surprise. Idaho has tribal gaming, but only because federal law requires it.

Idaho Proposition 1, also known as “Authorize Betting on Historical Horse Races Initiative,” proposed to use video terminals for wagers on historical horse races (known as “instant racing”).

The measure failed to pass, as “No” received 53.80%, and “Yes” received 46.20% of the vote.


Illinois Gambling Laws

A House Executive Committee voted 5-4 against Senate Bill 7, known as the Chicago Casino Development Authority Act. The bill would have approved land-based casinos for Danville, Marion, Rockford, Waukegan, Homewood, and downtown Chicago.

The bill also would have approved slot machines at O’Hare and Midway airports, VLTs (Video Lottery Terminals), and table games at Arlington and Hawthorne horse racetracks, and allowed taverns to increase their VLT allotment from five to six.

Illinois voted into office J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire centrist with a reputation for pragmatism. Illinois continues to discuss building land-based casinos in Chicago suburbs and expanding video lottery terminals in the state.

The election of a Democrat governor – and a shift towards the Democrats in the legislature – could change that razor-thin 5-4 vote against casino expansion if new bills reach a General Assembly committee.


Indiana Gambling Laws

Indiana launched legal sports betting in brick-and-mortar casinos in September 2019. Online and mobile sports wagering launched in October 2019. In June 2018, State Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Brazil) introduced House Bill 1325.

Morrison’s plan would include the state’s 13 combined casinos, racinos, along with the off-track betting facilities. House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin (D-Austin) gave his support to HB 1325, saying it would boost Indiana’s gambling industry.

In October 2018, the General Assembly’s Interim Study Committee on Commerce and Economic Development endorsed a plan to turn Gary, Indiana’s Buffington Harbor into a transportation hub. The plan would require the boat casinos on Lake Michigan’s Buffington Harbor to be moved inland to brick-and-mortar casinos.

Since Gary is a suburb of Chicago, the two Majestic Star casinos in town could be turned into lucrative integrated resort casinos if the plan succeeded. Dan Nita, a representative of Horseshoe Casino (Caesars Entertainment), which owns a casino in nearby Hammon, said in November 2018 he opposes the Buffington Harbor plan, due to the competitive disadvantage Horseshoe Hammond would face.


Iowa Gambling Laws

Iowa launched legal sports betting on August 15, 2019. Mobile sportsbooks began operation on the same day. The House Commerce Committee approved House Study Bill 592 in February 2018, which authorizes a report on the feasibility of sports betting at the state’s 20 casinos, two dog track racinos, and one horse track racino.

This lead to the introduction of House File 2448 by State Rep. Jake Highfill in March, which proposes to legalize college and pro sports wagering at Iowa’s casinos and tracks. Mobile sports betting apps also would be introduced. No floor vote has taken place at present on HF 2448.

House File 613 is a bill to authorize fantasy sports contests. If passed, the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission would provide regulatory oversight and DFS revenues would be taxed at a 7.5% rate. HF 613 has failed in previous years.


Kansas Gambling Laws

Kansas lawmakers were expected to file a bill early in 2019 that would authorize sports betting on mobile phones and in sports bars. It is estimated Kansas sports wagering would generate $75 million a year in revenues.

Early in 2018, Kansas lawmakers filed a bill to legalize sports betting if the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting. The bill never went far, but that was before PASPA was overturned.


Kentucky Gambling Laws

Kentucky passed HB 175 to make sports betting and fantasy sports legal and HB 190 to make casinos legal. If these bills pass, it’s safe to assume that Kentucky will make online sportsbooks and casinos legal eventually. Outgoing Governor Matt Bevin (R) would have vetoed any such bills, while Governor Andy Beshear (D) has not stated an opinion.   

In February 2018, State Rep. Jerry Miller (R-Louisville) filed House Bill 229, which would legalize brick-and-mortar casinos in Kentucky. With a major deficit shortfall and pension crisis still unresolved, State Senator Morgan McGarvey (D-Louisville) backed HB 229.

In November 2018, it appeared the Kentucky administration took a different view. Attorney General Andy Beshear said tax revenues for betting and alcohol could help solve the pension crisis, which will require $40 billion to $70 billion paid to educators, firefighters, and police officers over the next 30 years.


Louisiana Gambling Laws

In 2019, Louisiana passed H459 and S153 to legalize sports betting and daily fantasy sports, but the House Appropriations Committee added poison pill amendments that killed the bills later in the year.

State Senator Ronnie Johns (R-Lake Charles) proposed a law in January 2018 that would allow the state’s 15 riverboat casinos to move inland. Land-based casinos are more lucrative because they have bigger gaming spaces, more amenities, convention space, live event centers, and shopping areas. The bill was introduced by a task force of lawmakers created in 2016. The bill was still in committee as of December 2018.

The legislature approved House Bill 553, which granted Harrah’s Casino a casino license for 30 years and authorized an expansion project. In exchange, Harrah’s agreed to create 900 permanent jobs and pay the city of New Orleans $3.5 million per year.

In June 2018, the Louisiana legislature expanded a smoking ban for all bars, restaurants, and casinos in the state. Casino operators complained the smoking ban would cost profits and tax revenues.


Maine Gambling Laws

Maine Question 1 or the “York County Initiative” in November 2017 failed by a wide margin (83% to 16%). While the defeat was due to a scandal surrounding Shawn Scott’s bid for his second Maine casino license, the loss has had a chilling effect on other gambling initiatives in the state.

In April 2018, the Maine House of Representatives voted down LD 1201 by a 73-67 margin. LD 1201 would have backed a tribal casino in the Supreme Judicial Court of the state. The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and their representative, Rep. Henry John Bear, proposed LD 1201, which would give the tribe a casino.


Maryland Gambling Laws

Maryland Question 1, also known as the Gambling Revenue Dedicated to Education Lockbox Amendment, proposed to amend the state constitution to dedicate video lottery revenues to education as supplementary funding.

Question 1 passed by a whopping 89.0% to 10.94% margin, so a certain amount of VLT revenues now go into an education lockbox: $125 million in 2020, $250 million in 2021, $375 million in 2022, and 100% of VLT revenues in 2023 and beyond.


Massachussetts Gambling Laws

The $960 million MGM Springfield opened in August 2018 to rave reviews. It is the first integrated casino-resort in Massachusetts history and had an immediate impact, as Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos reported their slots revenues dropped 10% year to year after MGM Springfield opened.

The $2.4 billion Encore Boston Harbor plans a grand opening in the first half of 2019. Current developer Wynn Resorts might be stripped of its casino license by then. In May, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced a probe of 13 current and former Wynn Resorts executives, stemming from former CEO Steve Wynn‘s misconduct.


Michigan Gambling Laws

In December 2019, Michigan legalized online poker, casinos, and sportsbooks. Governor Gretchen Whitmer opposed at first, but later signed HB4311 and SB186. In 2018, Representative Brandt Iden proposed HB 4926, which would legalize online casinos and online poker rooms for the state’s three commercial casinos and 19 tribal casinos.

Brandt Iden supported House Bill 4926 in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. It was thought H 4926’s chances increased because Iden added sports betting provisions to the bill, increasing its appeal to casino operators. In the final days of 2018, and days before leaving the office, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder placed a veto on House Bill 4926.


Minnesota Gambling Laws

Minnesota State Senator Roger Chamberlain said he plans to introduce a bipartisan sports betting bill to the Minnesota state legislature in early 2019. Chamberlain, the chairman of the Senate Taxes Committee, said several committees want to collaborate with sportsbook legalization.

He will introduce draft legislation, then the various committees will “tweak” the bill throughout the year. In 2017 and early 2018, State Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) circulated a sports wagering bill, but it failed to gain traction. Garofalo’s bill included the kind of “integrity fee” that has proven unpopular with casino operators.


Mississippi Flag 2021 - Gambling Laws

The Mississippi Gaming Commission approved sportsbooks in early July 2018, which allowed Mississippi casinos to open sportsbooks in August or later. However, it denies bookmakers the right to launch online/mobile sportsbooks.

MGM Resorts’ two casinos in the state, Beau Rivage in Biloxi and Gold Strike Casino in Tunica, began taking wagers on sporting events in early August. Betting on SEC football games is said to be huge.

Another Tunica County riverboat casino, Tunica Roadhouse Casino, announced it would close in January 2019. The closure caused casino proponents to call for an amendment to Mississippi’s casino law that would allow riverboat casinos to move inland to bigger, more lucrative land-based casino sites.


Missouri Gambling Laws

Missouri Amendment 4, also known as the “Management and Advertisement of Bingo Games Amendment,” gained approval on November 6, 2018. Amendment 4 changed how charitable bingo organizations operate in Missouri.

The referendum passed 52.39% to 47.61% in the November 2018 elections, allows a person to administer a bingo game that has been with the organization only six months. The previous requirement was two years. Also, Amendment 4 allows charitable organizations to advertise their bingo events, where before adverts were banned.


Montana Gambling Laws

Montana legalized land-based sportsbooks in 2019. There are no provisions for online sports betting. Montana is one of three states that had legal sports lotteries (sports pools/pull-tabs). Montana increased the wager limits on sports pools in 2017, so it is concerned about revenues for small-time casinos and racetracks in the state.

The state’s lawmakers do not appear to be in a mood to expand gambling, though. In 2017, the Montana House of Representatives defeated HB578, which would have allowed blackjack in casinos and card rooms.


Nebraska Gambling Laws

Nebraska had no significant gambling-related legislative activity in 2019. Nebraska has dealt with lottery scams in the recent past and its lawmakers are skeptical about wagering expansion. In 2016, a casino referendum failed when the disqualification rate on the petition signatures approached 40% in some counties.

Former State Senator Scott Lautenbaugh (R-Omaha) called it an “unbelievably high rejection rate”, which indicates the lengths local officials will go to stop any type of beting expansion.


Nevada Gambling Laws

Nevada has legal online poker and sportsbooks. Online casinos are not regulated. Nevada has a Democrat as governor for the first time since 1994. Steve Sisolak defeated Republican Adam Laxalt 49.4% to 45.3% to win the race.

Sisolak’s win is significant mainly for what it repudiated. In his role as Nevada Attorney General since 2015, Adam Laxalt supported Restore America’s Wire Act, which would have banned online wagering in all 50 states. Nevada thus avoided having an anti-gambling governor.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Gambling Laws

New Hampshire legalized land-based sportsbooks in 2019. There are no provisions for online sports betting. For 20 years, State Senator Lou D’Allesandro has introduced bills to bring land-based casinos to New Hampshire.

Like the snow melting on the mountaintops, Lou D’Allesandro brings a casino bill to the General Court each spring. Like clockwork, each spring, the casino bill is defeated. On March 25, 2018, the latest iteration of the New Hampshire casino bill was defeated in committee by an 11-10 vote.

Meanwhile, seven New Hampshire cities implemented keno at the local level: Nashua, Rochester, Berlin, Claremont, Laconia, Manchester, and Somersworth. The seven cities voted on November 7, 2017, referendums for keno with revenues going to kindergarten funding. Dover, Keene, and Concord rejected the measure.

New Jersey

New Jersey Gambling Laws

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed into law a sports betting bill on June 11, 2018The bill allowed legal sportsbooks in Atlantic City casinos, as well as racetracks around the Garden State.
Monmouth Park in Oceanport and Borgata in Atlantic City opened sportsbooks on June 14, 2018. Most other racetracks and casinos opened sportsbooks within the next month. Since June, New Jersey’s sports betting industry reported a turnover of over $1 billion.

The bill also allowed for intrastate live sports wagering apps. FanDuel launched sports betting app soon after while opening a land-based sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford (miles from New York City).

One oddity involving the bill is eSports betting remains banned.

New Mexico

New Mexico Gambling Laws

New Mexico has a couple of brick-and-mortar tribal casinos that have sports betting. However, they do not have permission to launch online sportsbooks. The Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel began accepting sports bets on October 16, 2018. The tribal casino signed a deal with USBookmaking, a Nevada-based firm, to manage its sportsbook.

Nedra Darling, the US Department of the Interior’s Office of Indian Affairs’s spokeswoman, said that New Mexico gaming compacts permit “any and all forms of Class III Gaming”, which includes sports betting.

Though the Santa Ana Star Sportsbook won’t take bets on the University of New Mexico and New Mexico State University games, it will accept wagers on most US pro sports and NCAA sporting events.

New York

New York Gambling Laws

New York is on the verge of passing online poker and sports betting, but not online casinos. New York Senate passed S18 and General Assembly passed A4924 in early 2019. The bills must be reconciled, then Governor Andrew Cuomo needs to sign the bills to make them law. 

Acting Supreme Court Justice Gerald W. Connolly ruled on October 26, 2018, that the DFS bill passed in 2016 is unconstitutional, so DraftKings and FanDuel were acting without sanction the past two years. The two DFS operators continue to accept money from New Yorkers who play daily fantasy sports.

North Carolina

North Carolina Gambling Laws

North Carolina officials are dealing with “fish game tables”, the latest in video betting machines. So far, wagering real money on fish games is legal, because it involves skill — like an arcade game.

Charlotte Observer described fish game tables as “garish aquatic creatures swim across a 55-inch TV screen embedded in the six-foot game table”.

Senator Andy Wells introduced a bill in August 2018 to stiffen penalties on illegal video gambling and Internet sweepstakes cafes. Still, no one is certain whether the bill would address fish game tables. When the state attorney general’s office was asked for an opinion, spokesperson Laura Brewer deflected by saying the AG would “support legislative efforts to provide clarity around this issue.”

North Dakota

North Dakota Gambling Laws

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s repeal of PASPA, State Rep. Andy Maragos (R-Minot) said he did not see the legislature approving sports betting. Instead, said Maragos, those wanting legal sportsbooks should go to the voters – i.e. a referendum and constitutional amendment process.

Compacts the state made with 5 tribal gaming authorities in 2013 provided for legalized sports betting “except as prohibited by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA)”, so one big hurdle for tribal sportsbooks seems cleared.

Governor Doug Burgum‘s spokesman Mike Nowatzki said the governor has had preliminary talks with North Dakota tribes and is open to the prospect. The legislature is dominated by Republicans, who seem against expansion. In 2017, lawmakers voted down commercial casinos, though they did approve electronic pull-tabs.


Ohio Gambling Laws

Ohio is debating HB194 and SB111 to legalize land-based sportsbooks. Some versions of these bills allow online and mobile sports wagering. Governor Mike DeWine predicted Ohio would have sports betting eventually, though the Senate and House cannot agree on who would regulate sportsbooks. 

Dewine, who served as Ohio Attorney General under departing Governor John Kasich, said lawmakers have to do sports betting “the right way”, but it is inevitable. Sportsbook legalization likely would include the state’s 4 land-based casinos, 7 racetrack/casinos, and one off-track betting facility.


Oklahoma Gambling Laws

Starting in August 2018, Oklahoma’s many tribal casinos launched “ball and dice” gaming: essentially craps and roulette. The ball and dice legalization effort stemmed from a bitter dispute between the Oklahoma government and its teachers’ unions.

When Governor Mary Fallin (R) asked for the union’s ideas for increased tax revenues, the legalization of craps and roulette for tribal casinos was one of three suggestions.


Oregon Gambling Laws

Oregon tribal casinos now offer land-based sports betting. The Oregon Lottery plans to launch a legal sports wagering mobile app in 2020. The Oregon Lottery made its request after it was reported Bradley’s Sports Bar in Jantzen Beach, a mom-and-pop operation, collect $1.7 million in bets from its phone app.

Oregon’s nine tribal casinos oppose mobile lottery betting. So do the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association, which represents video lottery retailers throughout the state. Governor Richard Shelby so far has been cautious in his support of the state lottery, so this remains a developing issue.


Pennsylvania Gambling Laws

Pennsylvania launched legal online casinos in July 2019. Hollywood Casino was first to release their online casino product, with Parx following suit. PokerStars officially launched its Pennsylvania online poker site on November 4, 2019.

When it comes to partnerships, Mount Airy signed with 888 and PokerStars. Parx Casino signed with GameAccount Network (GAN) and Hollywood Casino partnered with Scientific Games (Bally, WMS Gaming, Barcrest).

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved land-based sports betting. Hollywood Casino in East Hanover launched a sportsbook on November 17, 2018, while Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh and SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia had two-day introductory periods (for regulatory review) in mid-December.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Gambling Laws

Rhode Island legalized sports betting in 2018. The state expanded this to include online and mobile sports wagering apps in 2019.

Rhode Island approved sports gambling for the Twin Rivers Casino Hotel in Lincoln and the Tiverton Casino Hotel in Tiverton. Under terms of the sportsbook bill, Rhode Island will receive 51% of the revenues, while vendors receive 32% and the casinos 17%.

The negotiations to nail down who the sports betting vendors will be has dragged on, delaying implementation of the plan. State Senate President Domenick Ruggerio is frustrated with the delay, as it has cost all parties an entire NFL season. 

South Carolina

South Carolina Gambling Laws

The South Carolina Senate passed a bill (SJR71) to fund a gambling study on “the social and financial costs and benefits of the various forms of gaming, including casinos, slots, table games, horse and dog racing, sports betting, and internet gaming”.

It’s a long way to legal online wagering, but the state government is considering it.

South Carolina lawmakers expressed skepticism their state would legalize sports wagering anytime soon. Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) said he did not want to “accidentally” legalize a form of gambling, so any bills would be eyed “suspiciously”.

Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) predicted the same, pointing to his attempt to legalize private poker games in 2014. If he had trouble passing a bill for home card games, then any commercial betting would be dead on arrival.

For its part, analysis firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming predicted North Carolina and Georgia would be among the 32 US states which will legalize sports betting in the next 5 years — but not South Carolina.

South Dakota

South Dakota Gambling Laws

On April 4, 2018, fourteen new rules went into effect for South Dakota casino operators. Most were policies involving subjects like application fees, pit boss requirements, and the legal age to gamble. One involved the types of blackjack authorized.

Also, 3-Card Poker and Ultimate Texas Hold’em were legalized.


Tennessee Gambling Laws

The Tennessee Senate proposed a constitutional amendment to authorize casino gaming. Land-based casinos could lead to legal online casinos and iPoker to support those casinos. This would require a referendum vote in the November 2020 elections.

State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) said he would introduce a sports betting bill to fund K-12 education. Kelsey said it appeared that a state constitutional amendment would not be needed, but legislative attorneys were still researching that question.

Brian Kelsey himself said the odds were long that his bill would be approved, though the Tennessee legislature did pass the Fantasy Sports Act in 2016.


Texas Gambling Laws

Naskila Gaming, a casino-like facility owned by the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, remains the focus of an ongoing legal battle between the state and tribe.

The tribe says their gaming facility is protected under the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Naskila Gaming is violating state and federal laws.

Meanwhile, poker clubs in Houston and Dallas remain controversial. Local police have shut some down, stating it’s illegal to collect a rake on poker games in Texas.

Texas gamblers should not expect legal sports betting anytime soon. The legislature refused to legalize fantasy sports – even local fantasy sports leagues – in 2017.


Vermont Gambling Laws

Shortly after the Supreme Court struck down PASPA, Governor Phil Scott of Vermont says he is undecided on whether he would support a legalized sports betting bill, but Scott also saidvrevenues were not the solution for Vermont’s budget shortfall.

With the governor’s lukewarm opinion on regulated sportsbooks, the Vermont State Legislature did not introduce a sports betting bill in 2018.


Virginia Gambling Laws

Virginia legalized historical racing machines at tracks and off-track betting facilities. Soon after, Revolutionary Racing out of Chicago bought the defunct Colonial Downs horse racing track for $20 million. Meanwhile, Virginia Secretary of Finance Aubrey Layne suggested sports betting might be legalized in 2019.

Not far from Colonial Downs, the Pamunkey Indian Tribe is developing a $700 million tribal casino with funding from a billionaire. The tribe won the right to build a casino in 2016 when the US Department of the Interior’s Indian Affairs Bureau ruled the Pamunkey owned sovereign territory in the state. Several interests are backing casinos.

In September 2018, local businessmen Jim McGlothlin and Clyde Stacy also pitched a casino development plan for a casino in the closed Bristol Mall, but the plan has received no official sanction.

Virginia State Senator Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) introduced a Hampton Roads casino bill in 2017, but the bill died in committee in 2018. Departing Governor Terry McAuliffe had supported the bill that promised $200 million to $600 million in revenues each year.


Washington Gambling Laws

The state of Washington has several bills to watch. HB 2416 prohibits gamblers from participating as a player in wagering activities.

HB 2332 and SB 6331 call for a self-exclusion list for problem gambling and pathological gamblers. SB 5671 simplifies charitable gaming organizations to help them raise funds easier, as well as engage in social gaming.

Washington also is on the frontline of the skin-gambling and loot box debate. SB 6266 commissions a study on whether loot boxes in video games should be considered a form of betting. HB 2881 makes it a crime for a third-party site to facilitate wagering on video game skins, booster packs, or loot boxes.

Valve Corporation, the Seattle-based owner of Steam, previously had been required by the Washington Gaming Commission to police third-party skin-gambling sites.

West Virginia

West Virginia Gambling Laws

West Virginia has legal online sportsbooks. Online casinos should launch in spring 2021. However, online poker still not legal. West Virginia passed a bill in March 2018 which named the West Virginia Lottery Commission as the chief regulator of sports betting, if the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA.

On August 30, 2018, Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races began taking sports bets. This made West Virginia the fifth US state to allow single-game sports bets since the US Supreme Court struck down PASPA.


Wisconsin Gambling Laws

Wisconsin had no significant gambling-related legislative activity in 2019. Departing Governor Scott Walker (R) lost his 2018 reelection bid for a third term, so State School Superintendent Tony Evers (D) took over in January 2019.

Having a new administration increases the chance of gaming expansion, but not by much. The Wisconsin legislature will remain in Republican hands, and it is uncertain whether bipartisan consensus exists to pass many new laws — much less betting laws.


Wyoming Gambling Laws

Wyoming had no significant gambling legislation in 2019. Historically, it is one of the most anti-betting states in the USA.

Wyoming only created a state lottery in 2013. A bill was introduced in 2015 to create a gambling commission, but it failed to pass. Charitable wagering is regulated at the local level. In short, Wyoming has little oversight of gaming, and no one should expect new legislation in 2020.

District of Columbia (Washington D.C.)

Washington DC Gambling Laws

Washington D.C. passed legal sports betting in sports stadiums and arenas in 2018. These allow mobile sports betting in the nation’s capital. In September, Washington D.C. city councilman Jack Evans introduced the “Sports Wagering Lottery Amendment Act of 2018“.

The bill would legalize single-game sports bets in hotels, bars, and sports arenas in the District of Columbia. Washington DC bettors drive to Delaware for sports betting, but Evans thinks residents should stay in the city to bet on games involving the Washington Redskins, Nationals, Wizards, and Capitals.

Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller Online Casino and Game Expert

Cliff Spiller is a global casino industry specialist who writes relatable content for beginners and experts. He's written gambling articles and online casino reviews at OUSC for over 15 years.

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