This week has seen a flurry of activity among states looking to broaden their gaming offer with Louisiana, Maryland and South Dakota each approving ballot initiatives to legalize sports betting. Meanwhile, voters in Colorado, Nebraska, and Virginia gave the green light for expanded casino gaming.

In Louisiana 55 out of 64 parishes voted in favor of legal sports wagering. These included Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, St Tammany, Jefferson, Ascension, Livingston, St Bernard, West Baton Rouge, Plaquemines, St Charles and Terrebonne who all gave their backing.

While that signals a clear go-ahead for those parishes, the finer details of how the law will shape up have yet to be formalized. In terms of timings, the first legal bets could conceivably be made in late 2021 but that could stretch into early 2022. Either way, state policy makers will be keen to prevent further sports betting spend slipping across the border into neighboring Mississippi.

Turning to Maryland, sports fans used a referendum to vote in legal betting by a margin of two to one, paving the way to a legitimate sports wagering business by 2021. The proposed framework sets a state tax on betting of 20%, 19% of which will fund education and the remaining 1% earmarked for Maryland’s minority business entertainment program. Policy makers hope that will contribute more than $18m annually in revenue for the state.

Visitors to Deadwood in South Dakota can also look forward to making a legal sporting wager by late 2021 if the state’s legislative efforts go to plan. Voters there passed recommendations by a margin of 58% versus 42%, opening up the road ahead for sports betting at the gold mining town’s commercial casinos and a dozen tribal casinos.

What remains unknown is how the legal framework will look, with question marks hanging over the introduction of mobile sports betting which, under current laws, would be restricted to commercial venues in Deadwood. It’s a situation that geolocation solution providers will be eyeing intently. 

News of the latest legislative moves was met positively by Bill Miller, President and CEO of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

In a broader statement on the current status of the gaming sector he said: “Yesterday, voters in Colorado, Nebraska, and Virginia expanded casino gaming while Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota approved ballot initiatives legalizing sports betting. With their affirmative votes, Americans welcomed gaming’s world-class entertainment to their communities along with our new jobs and vital state and local tax revenue. 

“Some form of legal gaming is currently authorized in 44 states, and 45% of American adults live in states that provide the safeguards of a legal, regulated sports betting market.”