Sports Gambling in Montana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The number of states allowing sports betting is poised to expand.
Governors in Montana and Iowa are considering measures that would allow residents to wager on sports, while Indiana lawmakers are scheduled to approve their own version as early as Wednesday.
Barring a veto, they would be the first states to approve sports betting this year, joining six others that moved quickly last year after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed it nationwide.
“We’re bringing what’s in the black market out into the open,” Montana state Sen. Mark Blasdel, a Republican, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
The legalization of sports gambling has not been as widespread as initially predicted after the court ruling ended Nevada’s virtual monopoly.
Gambling expert Chris Grove had expected 10 to 12 states to legalize sports betting this year. Now, he said, it looks more like eight.
Disagreements over the details — whether to offer bets online, how high taxes should be, who can get a license to run sportsbooks and what to charge for licenses — have slowed or doomed legislation in several states.
“We’ll still end up with a healthy number, especially relative to how long gambling expansion usually takes,” said Grove, managing director of Eilers & Krejcik, a firm that researches gambling.
Legal sportsbooks are running in eight states, including Nevada and New Mexico, where two tribal casinos are offering sports betting without explicit state approval.
An Associated Press analysis of legislation introduced nationwide found that at least 29 states have considered legalizing sports betting this year. Measures have died in some states, including Kentucky and Maryland, and seem unlikely to go anywhere in others.
Supporters want to capitalize on betting being done illegally and drive new business to casinos, bars and restaurants. Opponents warn that the cash coming into state treasuries won’t amount to much but that gambling addiction and illegal betting by minors will rise.
The nation’s three most populous states — California, Texas and Florida — are not expected to legalize sports betting this year, mostly because of opposition from casino-operating Native American tribes and because it could require amending state constitutions.
In Montana, lawmakers sent two separate legalization measures to the governor with bipartisan support.