It’s information overload everywhere, and there’s not time enough to sleep and eat and stay fully apprised of what’s happening on this crazy blue dot of ours (two out of three ain’t bad).
Here’s the weekend Sports Handle item, “Get a Grip,” recapping the week’s top stories, and rounding up key stories in sports betting, gaming, and the world of sports at large. You may have missed them, and they are worth reading.
RI House committee wants more time to discuss mobile sports betting
Rhode Island’s House Committee on Finance on Wednesday voted to hold over sports betting bill HB 5241, sponsored by Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (D-District 15), for further study. The move was apparently not unusual, as the Finance Committee often further studies bills at and after a first hearing before voting to move bills forward. Committee Chairman Marvin Abney (D-District 73) was quick to say the decision “does not mean (bills) will die in committee, we just feel they need more discussion.”
Mattiello’s bill mirrors S 37, which a Senate committee on Wednesday advanced to the Senate floor. Should the Senate pass the bill, it will be sent to the House for approval. And if HB 5241 moves forward and is ultimately approved by the House, it will be sent to the Senate for approval as well. This process must occur before bills can be sent to the governor for her signature.
— Dominick Ruggerio (@SenatorRuggerio) February 7, 2019
Similar to the Senate hearing, lawmakers Thursday spent considerable time discussing HB 5241’s in-person registration requirement to open a new sports betting account. Representative Carlos Tobon (D-District 58) suggested exploring the possibility of setting up a “welcome center” near the state border where bettors could register, while others inquired about online registration. In both cases, the legislators were concerned about “leaving money on the table.” In addition, Sharon Reynolds-Ferland, the House fiscal advisor gave an overview of the bill.
The only potential operator represented Thursday was DraftKings. Lawyer Julie Pearlman spoke on behalf of the mobile sports betting operator, and asked that the committee considering removing the in-person registration requirement, opening the operator bid process up to competing companies, increasing the revenue split, and allowing for betting on all college sports. Under existing law for bricks-and-mortar sportsbooks and in the current bill, sports betting revenue is split 51 percent to the state, 32 percent to the operator and 17 percent to the casino. DraftKings is suggesting that for mobile, 42 percent of revenue go to the operator and seven percent go to the casino.
The committee also spent considerable time discussing funding for problem gambling.
VA Senate passes sports betting bill
A Virginia sports betting bill was passed by the Senate earlier this week, but it still must go through the House process and be passed by Feb. 23 when the 2019 session ends. In odd-numbered years, the Virginia General Assembly meets for only 30 days. S 1126 calls for a voter referendum to approve the state’s first casino, which would be located in Bristol. The bill calls for the building of casinos in Virginia cities and towns in which “at least 40 percent of the land area is exempt from local real property taxation … had a rate of unemployment at least four percentage points higher than the statewide average, a poverty rate of at least 22 percent, and a population decrease in the locality of at least 20 percent from the previous year, all computed as of November 2017, and located adjacent to a state that has adopted a Border Region Retail Tourism Development District Act.”
In the definitions section of the bill, sports betting is included under the list of potential casino games that would be authorized should the bill pass.
The idea is that gaming will help to redevelop struggling communities. Several other Virginia sports betting bills have been tabled, and four, including S 1126, have been sent to the House Rules Committee, but no hearing or vote dates have been set.
A Senate amendment to the bill calls for a comprehensive legislative study on gaming before the matter could even be placed on the ballot.
Montana bill that would legalize sports betting set for House hearing
A Montana Senate bill that would expand gaming and includes a single section authorizing sports betting, is headed for a House hearing after passing the Senate late last month. The House Committee on Business and Labor has set a Monday hearing date for Republican Mark Blasdell’s SB 25. The bill moved quickly through the Senate after a first reading on Jan. 7.
$100 MILLION BUMP?: A new study reveals that sports betting could result in 2,500 new jobs and $100 million in state revenue in Illinois. [25News]
SUPER BOWL LOSER: Like New Jersey, Rhode Island sportsbooks took a loss on the Super Bowl. [TheDay]
SUPERBOOK: Picks, proxies and a $900,000 barista: Inside the rise of the Vegas SuperContest [Chalk]
NEW PARTNERSHIP: Turner, Caesars partner to develop sports betting content and open a Bleacher Report studio in a Caesars Las Vegas property. [Reuters]
SOUTH DAKOTA: A Senate committee sent a bill that would authorize a sports betting ballot initiative to the floor for a full vote. [ArgusLeader]
NEW HAMPSHIRE: A New Hampshire House committee didn’t take any action, but opened the sports betting conversation Thursday. [WMUR]
Excited to file HB 175 yesterday, which will allow legal sports betting, on-line poker and fantasy sports in Kentucky. It's time to provide the freedom for those who wish to engage in these activities to do so legally. Let's be ahead of the curve Kentucky!https://t.co/zfBRRiMmKF
— Adam Koenig (@repkoenig) February 6, 2019
In the wider world of sports
RHYME TIME: Need relationship advice? After 20 years together, Knicks broadcast team of Walt Frazier and Mike Breen have plenty to offer. [NYT]
BYE, FRANK: Baseball icon Frank Robinson, the first African-American manager in Major League Baseball, died Thursday. [ESPN]
NBA REPORT CARD: Grades for every NBA team after the trade deadline. [BleacherReport]
THE DYNASTY THAT WON’T DIE: Alabama football isn’t going anywhere. [SBNation]