In 2018, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that banned sports betting throughout most of the country. In the ensuing two years, states including Pennsylvania and Indiana have moved to legalize sports betting in a variety of forms. Now, four more states are on track to legalize betting in esports and other fields.
Late last year, voters in Colorado passed Proposition DD legalizing sports betting for those over the age of 21. Since then, over 50 companies have applied for sports betting licenses from the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission. On Thursday, the first seven applicants received approval and others were moved along the application process. Among those approved were the popular betting website DraftKings and several Black Hawk-area casinos, located in Colorado’s casino hub.
While sports betting will be permitted both on-site and online, experts estimate that 90 percent of bets will be placed online. The first legal bets in Colorado are set to start on May 1, 2020.
The Washington House of Representatives passed legislation that could legalize esports betting at any of the 29 tribal casinos that are already operating in the state. If it is signed into law, the legislation will permit both in-person and mobile esports betting, although individuals will have to be physically located on the casino’s premises to bet via their mobile devices.
The legislation would also allow gamers to place bets on collegiate and professional sports events. The current gambling age in Washington is 18 years old.
The bill has already passed through the Senate Ways and Means Committee and next moves to the full state senate. If the upper house approves the bill, it will go to the desk of Governor Jay Inslee for a signature before it becomes law.
While this bill is the first step to statewide legalization, its scope limits bets to already-existing tribal casinos. Moreover, the Washington State Gambling Commission must award casinos individual licenses before betting can move forward.
The Tourism, Gaming, and the Arts Committee of the New Jersey Assembly approved a bill that would legalize esports betting across the state. The bill, written by Assemblyman Ralph Caputo, would allow individuals to place bets on esports events provided that a majority of competitors are over the age of 18. The bill prohibits betting on collegiate teams from New Jersey and entirely bans bets on high school esports teams.
After the committee’s unanimous vote, the bill heads to the full assembly for approval.
In a statement, Caputo said, “Throughout the country and the world, video game enthusiasts are flocking to see expert players compete in all kinds of digital games. Whether they follow along online or in person, hundreds of millions of people watch esports each year – and that number is only growing.”
Sports betting has been legal in West Virginia since 2018, but several members of the West Virginia State Senate are working to legalize betting in other areas, including esports, politics, and even entertainment events. The bill will have a dual approach: expand access to betting and reduce the number of black-market bets.
While the sports betting market last year in West Virginia was estimated to be $226 million, legislators fear that a significant portion of bets are placed with unlicensed providers. Illegal bets not only go unregulated, but they also reduce the tax revenue West Virginia can collect. To combat the problem, SB-788 will increase penalties for illegal betting.
As in New Jersey, the bill would also prevent individuals from betting on high school athletics.
In the coming years, more states are expected to expand access to esports betting as the $1.1 billion industry continues to grow.
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