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.
In North Dakota, second time is the charm
On Wednesday morning, the North Dakota House of Representatives said “no” to sports betting. On Wednesday afternoon, it said, “yes.”
If a bill fails on the first vote on the House floor, it can be recalled within 24 hours. And after Representative Jason Dockter’s HB 1254 surprisingly failed to get enough votes in the morning session, Representative Keith Kempenich (R-District 39), who was absent for the morning session, requested a redo. The request was granted and Dockter (R-District 7) lobbied his colleagues for three hours and was able to pull together enough votes to pass his sports betting bill, 52-38, on the second go-round.
Dockter said three bills total got re-votes on Wednesday, but only sports betting passed.
“What happens is that in the first half of the session, you get all the easy bills, so all the controversial bills are at the end (of the first half of the session),” Dockter said, “So sometimes this happens.”
@lukehellier is right. North Dakota has passed sports gambling. Good news for Minnesotans who live in East Grand Forks or Moorhead. MN needs to get moving on this so we dont get left behind. cc: @johnkrieselhttps://t.co/dY5lVJ44Hn
— Representative Pat Garofalo (@PatGarofalo) February 20, 2019
From here, the bill will go to the Senate for consideration. Senator Scott Meyer (R-District 18) is a co-sponsor on the bill, and will shepherd it through the Senate. Dockter explained that if the Senate passes the bill as is, it would go to the governor’s desk for signature. If changes are made, the bill would go back to the House, which could pass it with the amendments or send it to a conference committee for additional wrangling.
“Whoever has the bill last has the hammer,” Dockter said.
The bill is strictly a policy bill — it does not include a tax rate, and outlines limited framework. In North Dakota, those issues are handled by the Attorney General, which would have regulatory authority. North Dakota’s gaming is unique, it’s done by charities and there are no casinos in the state. The bill would allow charitable groups to add sports betting to their gaming options, and would allow for setting up sports betting kiosks at food-and-beverage locations. As the bill went through the House, it was tweaked to limit sports betting to collegiate and professional sports, and to direct some revenue to treat gambling addiction.
“It’s a pretty cut-and-dried bill,” Dockter said. “Do you want to expand gaming and allow another way of gambling, sports betting?”
Wednesday was the last day of the first half of the session. The legislature will reconvene on Feb. 27, and Dockter expects that if sports betting gets to a vote in the Senate it would be late next month.
Indiana sports betting heads to Senate floor
Though it doesn’t have a tax rate, Indiana SB 552 on Thursday was unanimously moved out of the state’s Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill will be voted on by the full Senate, and sponsor Mark Messmer (R-District 48) said a tax structure will be determined when the bill moves over to the House. The bill allows for state-wide mobile sports betting, while it’s just one piece in an expansive bill that would change the casino landscape in Indiana, per US Bets.
A representative from Penn National testified with “concerns” about the bill, specifically, Penn National is worried that its Ameristar Casino Hotel in East Chicago, Indiana could lose business should its rival, Majestic Star Casino, move onto land in downtown Gary.
“This is the most massive change since we introduced gaming to Indiana 25 years ago,” the Penn National rep said. “It’s a stable market today, and it’s unclear if it will remain so.”
There is possibility that this bill will be combined with a second sports betting bill, SB 66, which was advanced by the Senate Appropriations Committee last week.
Louisiana to tie sports betting, early childhood education?
In a political move that has been used in many other jurisdictions — most recently Washington, D.C. — Louisiana lawmakers are considering tying sports betting to a less controversial cause. The idea is that early childhood education is a non-partisan issue that most politicians can get behind, and having a meaningful cause to funnel sports betting revenue into can help remove some of the stigma that’s long been attached to it.
Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that coupling sports betting with early childhood education “is a conversation that I am willing to have.”
In Washington D.C., where the D.C. Council passed a law legalizing sports betting in December, revenue will be earmarked for crime prevention and early childhood education. The result was that several D.C. Council members who may not have been strongly in favor of sports betting, but were strongly in favor of what it would benefit, became advocates for legalization.
Louisiana lawmakers have been cool to the idea of legalizing sports betting. Last year, Senator Denny Martiny (R-District 10) offered up a sports betting bill that died in committee.
“If we don’t legalize sports betting in Louisiana, it’s not going to go away,” Martiny told the Times-Picayune.
And whether or not Martiny will marry early childhood education and sports betting should he file a bill this session, remains to be seen. In addition, even if the state legislature were to legalize sports betting, it would then go voters in every parish to determine where it would be legal.
Louisiana’s regular legislative session runs April 8-June 6.
More of the most interesting, important stories
— AP Graphics (@APGraphics) February 21, 2019
INSIDE A SCANDAL: Here’s a deep dive into how NBA official Tony Donaghy fixed games. [ESPN]
MEANWHILE: The Association fired back at the story with a very harsh rebuke [NBA]
PROBABLE: Standardized injury reports face hurdles as college football adapts to new sports gambling laws [CBS Sports]
HMMM: Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts is crying poor when it comes to buying talent, but his team has invested in Action Network. [Cubs Insider]
BIG BETS: MGM’s sports business portfolio keeps expanding, and the company is bullish on its partnerships with leagues. [USBets]
THE OSCARS: The Favourite, the favorites and al the Oscars odds at legal NJ sportsbooks [NJOG]
FOR SALE? Billionaire investor Carl Icahn this week revealed a 9.8% stake in Caesars, which he thinks should sell. [CNBC]
ICYMI from Sports Handle and US Bets
In the wider world of sports
WORST NIGHTMARE: Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boehheim struck and killed man on the freeway. He was not drunk. [Syracuse.com]
OFF-SEASON CHECKLIST: What every NFL team really needs to get done this offseason. [B/R]
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) February 21, 2019
FOOTWEAR MALFUNCTION: A Nike shoe worn by the NBA’s projected No. 1 draft pick ripped apart on national TV. [NPR]
DRESSING DOWN: Sweatpants get a bad rap. Jason Gay writes that they’re cozy, not a sign of defeat. [WSJ]