3 More States Vote To Legalize Sports Betting

Law360 (November 4, 2020, 3:36 PM EST) -- Voters in Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana approved measures to legalize some form of sports betting in their states, according to early election returns Wednesday, adding to the growing list of states to enter the regulated sports betting market in recent years.

The three states are set to join the 19 states across the country and the District of Columbia where sports bets may legally be placed, a number that has grown significantly since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018 struck down a federal law that had restricted states from legalizing the activity.

In Maryland, voters approved a ballot question calling for the "expansion of commercial gaming … to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education" by a wide margin, 66.3% in favor to 33.7% against, according to election results updates by the State Board of Elections on Wednesday afternoon.

South Dakota voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize the state legislature to allow sports wagering in the city of Deadwood, where casino gambling is already legal. That too was approved by a wide margin of 59% to 41%, according to results from the South Dakota Secretary of State updated Wednesday.

The vast majority of Louisiana parishes passed measures to allow sports betting, including those containing the cities of New Orleans — home to the New Orleans Saints of the NFL and the New Orleans Pelicans of the NBA — and Baton Rouge, home to Louisiana State University, according to state election results. A ballot measure had been placed in each of Louisiana's 64 parishes to allow sports betting in those districts.

The measures passed with 76% of the vote in Orleans Parish, 76% and 77% in neighboring Jefferson and St. Bernard Parishes and 68% in East Baton Rouge Parish, according to the Louisiana Secretary of State results Wednesday.

"Some form of legal gaming is currently authorized in 44 states, and more than 45% of American adults — 115 million — live in states with legal, regulated sports betting and the safeguards these markets provide," American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement Wednesday, noting that the industry will work with new lawmakers in D.C. to "shape a favorable policy environment for gaming."

The legal sports betting market has grown since the Supreme Court's 2018 decision in Murphy v. NCAA  striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which had blocked state lawmakers outside of four states from authorizing sports betting.

According to the American Gaming Association, 19 states plus D.C. have legal sports betting in operation, and another six more states, including Maryland, South Dakota and Louisiana, have passed legislation to allow sports betting but are still in the process of launching the industry.

While some states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania have opened the door for mobile and online sports betting across their states, others like New York have only authorized it in brick-and-mortar casinos. Tribal casinos in both New Mexico and Oregon have started offering sports betting under their state gaming compacts. 

--Editing by Alanna Weissman.

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