Progress was made on several sports betting bills this week as states race towards being part of the next wave of sportsbook expansion in the United States.

Sports betting legislation
Several states saw sports betting legislation move forward this week, with two bills now only needing signatures from governors to pass into law. (Image: Wayne Parry/AP)

Bills in states like Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa and Tennessee all saw movement in recent days, though not all of them have the same odds of passing into law this year.

Indiana, Iowa Governors Consider Signing Bills

On Wednesday, the Indiana General Assembly approved a bill that would allow betting on professional and college sports starting later this year. The bill includes a 9.5 percent tax rate on revenue, and will allow wagering at both live venues like casinos and off-track betting facilities, as well as on mobile devices.

The bill passed 59-36 in the House and 37-12 in the Indiana Senate, with bipartisan support and opposition in both houses. The legislation will now head to the office of Gov. Eric Holcomb, who can veto it, sign it into law, or simply allow it to pass into law without any action on his part.

Similarly, Iowa legislators have passed a sports betting bill, with the state House passing the legislation by a 67-31 margin, again with bipartisan support.

However, there is no certainty that Republican governor Kim Reynolds will sign the bill. Conservative Christian organizations that make up much of Reynolds’ base are strong opposed to gaming expansion, and recent polling shows that a majority of Iowans are also against legalized sports betting, especially when it comes to college sports.

“That’s what we’ll take into consideration when I sit down with the policy team and go through the bill and we’ll make the decision going forward,” Reynolds told the Associated Press.

Sports Betting Moves Forward in Tennessee, Louisiana

Other states aren’t quite as far along the legislative path with their sports betting bills, but are making progress nonetheless.

In Tennessee, the State House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize online sports betting on Wednesday by a 58 to 37 vote. It was the first bill filed in the 2019 legislative session, and included an amendment that could also allow for betting at brick-and-mortar locations. Wednesday also saw the same bill approved by the state’s Senate Finance committee, with a full Senate vote expected to come soon.

However, there could be significant hurdles for the bill, as Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee has been historically opposed to gaming expansion in the state.

“I hope to God that Gov. Bill Lee will veto this bill if it does pass,” Representative Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) said during the floor debate over the legislation.

In Louisiana, a bill that would allow for betting at casinos and racetracks passed its first legislative hurdle on Tuesday, as it was approved by a state Senate panel by a 3-1 vote. Senator Danny Martiny (R-Metairie) introduced the bill, and said that while it won’t be a magic wand to solve the state’s financial needs, that’s not a reason to oppose sports betting.

“Sports betting is not the solution to all our fiscal problems, but I know if we don’t do it we will lose money,” Martiny told reporters. “If nothing else it stops some of the bleeding from people going to Mississippi and Arkansas.”

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