A Half Dozen States Legalize Sports Betting: Looking to be Ready for 2021 NFL Season

Just a few years ago, sports betting was considered taboo; but now it is widely accepted, appreciated, and skyrocketing with at least six states in recent months passing legislation legalizing sports betting. These states have all expressed an interest in moving quickly, hoping to kick off sports betting by September 9, 2021, the date of the first regular season NFL game.


On April 12, 2021, the state senate passed a bill permitting both online and retail sports betting.  Three days later, Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill into law.  Since then, the Arizona Department of Gaming has been busy preparing the official sports betting regulations.  Twenty sports betting licenses will be permitted, ten associated with professional sports franchises and ten with federally recognized tribes located in the state. Each license allows retail betting and an online skin or brand. Each professional team will be allowed one primary sportsbook on-premises and a second “adjacent” location in the vicinity. 

Currently, there are at least five major deals between teams/tribes and online sportsbooks including: BetMGM and Gile River Indian Community; Caesars Sports and Arizona Diamondbacks; DraftKings and PGA (i.e., TPC Scottsdale); FanDuel and Phoenix Suns; and William Hill and Ak-Chin Indian Community.


A new gaming compact between the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Indian tribes was signed by Governor Ned Lamont on May 27, 2021.  The compact awaits federal approval by the U.S. Department of Interior.  

In preparation for launch by September 6, 2021, the regulatory and licensing process has begun.  In addition to the tribal online and retail sportsbooks, the State Lottery is allowed to launch a single online sportsbook and online casino platform. Connecticut bettors will have the option of three online sportsbook apps. In addition to the Lottery’s sportsbook app,  the Mashantucket Pequot tribe partnered with DraftKings to operate their official sportsbook. The Mohegan tribe partnered with Kambi. The Connecticut Lottery is expected to approve the online sportsbook platforms before the launch of up to fifteen retail sportsbooks across the state.  The Lottery itself will open two retail sportsbooks in Hartford and Bridgeport.


Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new compact with the Seminole tribe in April 2021 to expand the tribe’s gaming capabilities and bring statewide mobile wagering, including sports betting, to the state.  The compact in effect creates a monopoly for the Seminole tribe, wherein any and all sports bets must go through its  tribal land servers.  The state legislators approved the deal in May 2021; although the compact awaits federal approval by the U.S. Department of Interior.  

The compact will permit online and retail sportsbooks through tribal casinos. Florida sports venues may also get in on the action; but the specifics of where and when are undetermined.  The Seminole Tribe, however, does operate six casinos in the state and has agreements with the Hard Rock Stadium right outside of Miami.  If the compact is approved, the number of potential online operators in Florida is still unknown, and it could be as few as one, most likely Hard Rock.  


Louisianans were given the opportunity to vote on sports betting in their parishes in November 2020. The resulting votes concluded with 55 out of the 64 parishes legalizing sports betting in those locations. Based on a measure signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in June 2021, the state will allow betting on football, basketball, and other sporting events. Bettors will be permitted to place bets on mobile devices, in casinos, and at kiosks in bars and restaurants that serve liquor. 

To be ready for the upcoming football season, the state senate amended the legislation to permit temporary licenses while the casinos build out a section for sports wagering. The legislation allows for 20 licenses to go to casinos. The casinos are required to build out a separate area to handle sports betting. Each license will permit licensees to have two platforms to handle betting over mobile devices: amounting to up to 40 licenses for mobile sports betting. The Louisiana Lottery Commission will also have a license but will be required to operate through a contracted provider, furnishing a total of 41 available sports betting skins in the state.  Licensees will pay a $250,000 application fee and a $500,000 license fee for a five-year license.  Retail sportsbooks will pay a 10% tax on net proceeds; and online sportsbooks will pay a 15% tax. 


On May 18, 2021, Governor Larry Hogan signed the state’s online and retail sports betting law.  It is now up to state regulators to approve and set additional rules, then select and license each sportsbook.  As many as 60 online sportsbooks, the highest cap of any jurisdiction in the country, will be permitted in the state.  

Some of the state’s six commercial casinos have already secured partnerships or plans for retail and online sportsbook launches.  The law also permits the state’s major professional sports stadiums to open sportsbooks.  Minor league stadiums, sports bars, and a variety of other types of small and locally owned business will be permitted to apply for a statewide mobile license.  


Wyoming surprisingly advanced into the legal sports betting landscape in April 2021 when Governor Mark Gordon signed House Bill 133 into law.  Legalized sports betting will be online only, with at least five expected sportsbook operators.  The law requires a minimum of five licenses to be issued without setting a maximum.  Only those sportsbooks that are operative in at least three other states will be qualified to apply.  

A fall launch date for the above listed states is ambitious, yet reasonable. States such as Colorado and Indiana were able to transition from bill signing to a legally regulated industry in less than six months.  Only time will tell which of these states will be ready to go by NFL kick-off, but one thing is for sure, the landscape of legal sports betting in the U.S. will be demonstrably different this NFL season.