Now that the new year is officially a month in, many states in the US are starting to make legislative maneuvers to their sports betting laws. In fact, half of the country (25 states) now have combined to submit 62 different bills to legalize or expand their current sports betting industry.
West Virginia sportsbooks have operated since Aug. 2018 with no competition in the region. WV’s neighbor to the north, Pennsylvania began accepting sports bets a few months later in November.
With mobile sports betting in WV, a bettor only has to cross state lines to place a wager. And many PA residents still resided closer to the WV state line than to a PA retail sportsbook.
The landscape, however, is set to change. More competition in the region may impact West Virginia sports betting as sports bettors find local sportsbooks or mobile sports betting closer to home.
Let’s examine what’s happening in the neighboring states around WV and take an overall look at the legal sports wagering expansion within the US.
Sports betting progress in neighboring states
Pennsylvania sports betting
We’ll start with Pennsylvania sports betting because, as mentioned, it is the only neighbor with legalized sports gambling already in place. The Keystone State actually legalized sports betting and part of a gambling expansion law back in October 2017.
It took over a year before PA came online. The state did not move as quickly as some other states because of issues regarding the higher-than-usual tax rate and licensing fees implemented by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.
Nonetheless, PA is up and running with six active casinos in the state offering sportsbooks with legal sports betting. Currently, there are no mobile sports betting apps in the state. Look for online sports betting to go live sometime during the first half of 2019.
Ohio sports betting
The Ohio Legislature has placeholder bills indicating the state’s intention to legalize sports betting.
Senate Bill 316 along with House Bill 714 have been submitted for this upcoming session stating the intent to develop and enact legislation legalizing sports wagering.
Ohio has a chance to become influential in the sports betting industry because of its population and a plethora of professional sports teams:
- Cincinnati Reds (Major League Baseball)
- Cleveland Indians (Major League Baseball)
- Cincinnati Bengals (National Football League)
- Cleveland Browns (National Football League)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (National Basketball Association)
- Columbus Blue Jackets (National Hockey League)
Kentucky sports betting
Kentucky, the home of the Kentucky Derby, also has several bills in place in the new year.
There are bills on the floor in both the House and Senate that would position Kentucky to offer legalized sports gambling.
The bills are looking to expand the Kentucky Lottery Corporation and give regulatory control of betting to either a new Kentucky Gaming Commission or the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.
Virginia sports betting
The Commonwealth State has a total of seven separate bills on file with the House and Senate. Unfortunately for its residents, none of them are likely to pass this year.
Several legislators’ resistance along with a Senate vote to require an in-depth study has sports betting most likely taking a back seat until at least 2020 in Virginia.
It also doesn’t help that the state’s General Assembly sees their session end in just a few weeks on Feb. 23. VA sports bettors will likely continue to rely on WV sports betting to place their wagers for the foreseeable future.
Washington, D.C. sports betting
The District of Columbia put together a new sports betting law in December and is trying to make it legal as fast as possible. The council has since approved legislation allowing the district’s lottery to manage legal sports wagering.
Before anything can actually happen though, Congress has 60 days to review the bill. However, the D.C. Council can potentially pass an emergency resolution that would make the bill go into effect immediately.
The council has also come together in support of hiring Intralot, the city’s lottery provider, to bypass the competitive bidding process for the lottery contract. This week, lawmakers passed part of this vote 7-6 and are now closer to fast-tracking the debut of sports betting in DC.
Officials anticipate that legal sports betting will launch before Sept. 1.
US sports betting legislation
A similar movement is happening all across the country, too.
Both Illinois and Iowa have submitted bills in the early stages of the process. New England states like Vermont and Maine have taken strides as well, adding their proposals to the docket. Oregon and South Dakota are also on the list of states looking to expand with proposed bills.
The state that is closest to joining the legal sports betting industry is New York. There are now partial laws in place passed by the Senate to expand sports betting. Basically, the only thing left is to provide provisions for online gambling.
If successful, NY will join West Virginia and six other states in the state-regulated sports betting industry:
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island