Three more states have entered the legal sports betting arena. Beating the clock to the opening of the NFL season were Oregon, Iowa, and Indiana.
While some states open their new sports betting facilities with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting, others just start printing out the betting tickets.
In Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb did the honor of placing the first legal bets in the Hoosier State on Sept. 1. The governor visited the Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville on Sunday, where he put down $10 on the Indianapolis Colts to win the Super Bowl, $10 on the Indiana Pacers to win the NBA championship, and $10 on the Indiana Fever of the WNBA to beat the Minnesota Lynx later that night.
(Holcomb is starting off in the hole, as the Fever lost by 8.)
Open for Business
In Oregon, former Dallas Cowboys great Ed “Too Tall” Jones placed the first bet at Chinook Winds Casino last Tuesday, on Aug. 27. He went with a 10-1 odds wager on the Cowboys to win the Super Bowl.
The Hall of Fame defensive end showed off his 1977 Super Bowl XII ring and said: “This is my good luck Super Bowl ring and we need another one.”
Sports betting became legal in Iowa two weeks ago. But it was the first weekend of college football that showed just how big the new gaming option was going to be.
Samir Mowad, general manager of Harrah’s Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, said the crowds at his casino were much larger than expected. He was impressed by all the action that seemed to surround opening weekend for the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
“Especially for an 11 am game,” Mowad told Omaha’s KETV 7. “You would normally shoot a cannon through here and not hit anybody, but it’s exciting to see lines of people.”
But the first bet in Iowa came from former Minnesota Viking John Randle, who on Wednesday held up the ceremonial bet slip from Diamond Jo Casino in Northwood, just across the border from Minnesota. Not wanting to wait for the Super Bowl for his first gambling payday, Randle bet the Twins over the White Sox that night.
Good bet, as the Twins won 10-5.
Montana Missing Out?
Out in Big Sky Country, gamblers are still waiting to get in on the sports betting action. While bars and restaurants that were approved for sports betting kiosks are hungry to let their patrons start wagering, regulations that will allow the state to start taking bets still have yet to be finalized.
State legislators who helped push the bill that resulted in legalization were optimistic about Montana betting windows being open by the start of football season. But on Tuesday, Montana Lottery officials charged with overseeing sports betting’s implementation told an interim legislative committee that such a timeline was unrealistic and nothing the agency ever promised.
With regulations currently being drafted, and then required to go through a public comment period — and plenty of political wrangling over how to award potentially lucrative contracts still in play — officials now are setting the over/under for when the state starts taking bets at the end of this year, with no guarantee that 2020 won’t come first.