Skip to main content

Sports Betting Legislation: March 2020 Outlook

by March 18, 2020

With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, state legislatures and everyday Americans have bigger fish to fry than sports betting. Even if you don’t have symptoms, you should practice social distancing so we can flatten the curve.

If you’re looking for an update on sports gambling in your state to pass the time, I don’t blame you — I know I have more free time than I know what to do with, too. Before coronavirus struck, quite a few states had sports betting laws in the works. Here’s a recap of where things stand across the United States.

Check out all of our articles on sports betting strategy & advice >>

A state that already passed pro-gambling legislation has a new controversy on its hands. Although sports betting will go live on May 1, the Rev. Al Sharpton wrote a letter to state officials imploring them to reconsider because of the coronavirus. While there’s no sign that the state will reverse course, Sharpton’s warning may foreshadow increased resistance to gambling legalization.

It looked like momentum was building for legalized sports betting in Georgia. Although bills had been proposed in both its General Assembly and its Senate, neither passed in their respective body by the session deadline of Mar. 12. Georgians will have to wait until next year for another chance.

The state’s legislative session is still ongoing, but lawmakers likely won’t pass a sports gambling bill before it comes to an end. It’s a messy situation as the state is struggling to complete its annual budget in the middle of a public health crisis.

Legalized sports betting had some good odds in Kentucky just a few weeks ago, but they are much worse now. A recent poll showed that 66 percent of Kentuckians supported state-regulated betting both online and at race tracks, and that number rose to 74 percent when the pollster explained where new revenue would go. But unfortunately for sports bettors, a primary sponsor of the bill told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the bill was “on life support,” and it is yet to appear on the House floor.

Lawmakers had recently presented bills, but the state has since suspended its legislative session. Although it should resume in a few weeks, the state will face other priorities like the budget. It’s unlikely that sports betting is legalized in Louisiana this year.

March Madness may have gotten canceled, but we’ve still got a buzzer-beater worthy of mention. Maryland’s senate had passed a sports betting bill earlier in the session, but its General Assembly hadn’t yet voted on it before lawmakers announced that the session would end. But right before the session adjourned, the body passed a version that would put legalized sports betting on the ballot in November, and the Senate quickly agreed to the revisions. It’s now up to Gov. Larry Hogan to sign the bill.

Despite Gov. Charlie Baker’s support for sports betting, Massachusetts may not have a bill passed by the end of the year. On Feb. 28 a committee presented a bill to legalize it, but it hasn’t made much progress since then. Legal expert Daniel Wallach predicted that Massachusetts would get it done by the end of the year, however, so we’ll have to see how things play out.

The Show-Me State was a longshot to pass a sports betting bill by the end of the session. Some state officials had hoped to make progress on it this year, but the state legislature now has other priorities amidst the public health crisis.

New York
Pressures created by coronavirus seem likely to derail hopes for mobile sports betting in New York. Lawmakers expect a rushed budget, which will give them little time to persuade the governor that mobile sports betting is a good idea.

There were two bills in the state legislature before it shut down due to coronavirus. The state has taken drastic measures in response to the crisis, including controversial measures to postpone its primary elections. Time will tell if the progress made earlier in the year can continue.

The state legislature already sent a sports betting bill to the governor earlier this month, so unlike 2018, Virginia beat Maryland in March. It’s now up to Gov. Ralph Northam to sign the bill into law.

Like Virginia, Washington also sent a sports betting bill to its governor. Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign the bill, but it would only legalize in-person betting at tribal facilities. The law would make Washington the first state to pass such a significant tribal-only sports betting policy.

Get a sign-up bonus up to $1,000 at DraftKings Sportsbook >>

Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.