Six jurisdictions have legalized sports betting but have not yet given the green light for the launch of legal operations. While Indiana and Iowa sprinted from legal to live (they both did it in just over three months) earlier this year, that’s not been the norm. In many cases, especially in jurisdictions with no gaming infrastructure, the timeline may stretch into a calendar year and perhaps longer.
In Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New Hampshire, Tennessee and Washington, D.C., sports bettors and stakeholders have been waiting anxiously for live sports betting. But most will have to wait at least a little bit longer. Below is a look at the state of sports betting in all five jurisdictions, including a projected launch date, which is the date we believe the first bets will be taken.
Colorado legalized earlier this month via ballot referendum, and it appears things are moving quickly. The first round of rules, termed “emergency rules” have been drafted and are on the agenda for consideration by the Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission on Thursday. In addition, according to a source, the state could post sports betting applications online as early as Nov. 25. There is currently a notice on the state’s Department of Revenue website seeking “interested industry stakeholders to participate in working groups and stakeholder meetings.” Though the deadline to apply for these groups has passed, the state is clearly moving quickly, as sports betting was legalized a little over two weeks ago. There’s been no word about when Coloradans might be able to place a sports bet, though the law calls for sports betting to implemented by May 1, 2020. Given the speed with which the state is already moving, we’re betting sooner than later.
- Spring 2020
Illinois legalized sports betting in July, but the state has not yet opened the application process or rolled out temporary rules. It did have a public-comment period ahead of developing rules and the response was strong. The Illinois Gaming Board announced a few weeks ago that it would be releasing applications ahead of its Dec. 19 meeting.
So there was a very small sports betting story out of Illinois. Two items passed for the gaming board to make applying for a sports betting licenses more streamlined. That is all. Senate and House adjourned until 1/28/2020.
— Steve Brubaker (@SteveBrubaker) November 14, 2019
Given that the law legalizing sports betting is complicated — it’s part of a massive capital bill — and that there have already been hiccups on the casino side of the new law, it seems a fair bet live sports betting in Illinois will happen later than sooner. When licensed operators do get the go, it will be at physical locations and mobile sportsbooks tethered to those locations, but the law calls for an 18-month waiting period after the first physical sportsbook opens before stand-alone mobile sportsbooks (such as FanDuel) can go online.
- May 2020 for physical locations and tethered mobile sportsbooks
- November 2021 start of football season for stand-alone mobile sportsbooks
Montana was the first state to legalize in 2019, and though state lawmakers sent two sports betting bills to the Governor Steve Bullock, he only signed the Lottery version. Since then, the Lottery had a public-comment period, had a hearing and and has written regulations. The regulations were published in the Montana Administrative Register earlier this month and the public-comment period closed on Nov. 4. The Montana Lottery Commission is scheduled to meet Thursday and the expectation is that it will vote on the rules. Should the rules be approved, they then need to be published in the Register, which according to a Lottery spokesperson, would likely happen by early December, and shortly after, the Lottery would open the licensing process.
The goal is to go live with sports betting before the end of the year, and according to the Lottery, most of the pieces are in place to do that. That said, sites with kiosks may still need geofencing and other technology to be put in place, so even though the Lottery will be ready, it’s unclear how quickly the sites that want to host sports betting can get up and running. Those interested in offering sports betting will need to apply for a Lottery Sports Wagering License, but they’ll also need a Gambling Operators License and liquor license in order to offer sports betting, per the law. Sports wagering license applications will be available here. There will be no mobile (unless you’re in range of a kiosk) and no physical sportsbooks.
- First quarter 2020
Granite State lottery chief Charlie McIntyre has been promising a “first quarter 2020” launch of its sports betting product, and there’s no reason to think otherwise on that front. After legalizing, New Hampshire moved quickly to put out a Request for Proposal soliciting potential vendors. The state got 13 proposals and the law allows for five mobile vendors and 10 physical locations, but the Lottery selected only two vendors — Intralot to run the Lottery piece and DraftKings, based in nearby Boston, to run at least one mobile and physical sportsbook.
New Hampshire Lottery officials are set to finalize the state's initial sports betting proposals tomorrow. DraftKings was selected for award for the mobile channel. Kambi as well as ROAR (the MGM – GVC joint American venture) also scored highly. State law allows up to 5 skins.
— Ryan Bets (@bets_ryan) November 19, 2019
The Lottery has been negotiating contracts with both operators, but those contracts must be approved by the Governor and Council, which next meets on Nov. 25. Both Intralot and DraftKings have sports betting platforms ready to go, so going live with mobile should come sooner than later.
On the physical location front, on November ballots, voters in nine cities were asked, as required by the law approving sports betting, “Shall we allow the operation of sports book retail locations within the city?”
Sports betting is the right bet for New Hampshire! I urge voters in Manchester, Nashua, Dover, Rochester, Claremont, Berlin, Laconia, Concord, and Somersworth to allow retail sports betting in their cities! #603Pride
— Chris Sununu (@GovChrisSununu) November 5, 2019
Voters in Nashua and Concord, the state capital, gave a thumbs down to the proposition, while the state’s biggest city, Manchester, voted to allow them. In total, five of the nine cities approved, but it’s unclear how slowly or quickly each of those cities might proceed.
- March 2020 Lottery and DraftKings (mobile)
- Unknown for physical locations
Tennessee legalized over the summer, and is one of the first states with no casino/gaming infrastructure to do so, only the State Lottery. Sports betting will be mobile-only, and though the Lottery will regulate sports betting, commercial vendors will be invited to apply for licenses, so there should be competition.
The Volunteer State has been taking it slow since legalization, putting out an RFP seeking a company to help vet the financial soundness of potential vendors and a Request for Information asking consultants to offer ideas about what sports betting should look like. The new law mandates a nine-member Sports Betting Advisory Council to oversee sports betting, and that panel will meet for the first time on Thursday.
Given that applications are not yet available and temporary rules have not been released, it’s likely to be at least a few months before sports betting is up and running, possibly if not probably longer.
- May-June 2020
Next month, it will a year since the D.C. Council voted to legalize sports betting, but in reality, it wasn’t until May, after the required Congressional review of new D.C. laws, that sports betting really became legal. The law allows only one city-wide mobile sportsbook, run by the DC Lottery, and also permits sportsbooks on premises at four professional sports arenas including at Capital One Arena, home of the Washington Wizards and Capitals.
The law allows the issuance of “Class B” licenses for local bars (facilities licensed to serve alcohol). Approved locations will be permitted to take bets from patrons in person via a mobile app available for use only on the location’s premises.
The DC Lottery rolled out temporary regulations early in the summer, and adopted the rules in August. Since then, the city had to contend with a lawsuit claiming that D.C. unfairly legalized by bypassing an RFP process and awarding the contract to the existing DC Lottery vendor, Intralot. A judge ruled in favor of the the District in October.
According to the Office of Lottery and Gaming, applications for D.C. sportsbooks will available after Thanksgiving. Realistically, it would be a fair bet that license approvals could take up to six months. On the operator side, many mobile platforms are ready to go on short notice, but the physical sportsbooks that will be opening in the city’s professional sports venues and other locations also have to apply for and get a variety of licenses before they can open for operations. The initial goal for a January launch of the Lottery product was pushed back due to the lawsuit.
- March 2020 Lottery
- April-May for 2020 commercial sports books (physical locations and their on-premises mobile platforms)