EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

SPORTS BETTING, iGAMING LEGISLATION TO DOMINATE

Sports betting and Internet gaming will be the hottest gaming topics in legislatures across the country this year, and perhaps in the halls of Congress.

Should the US Supreme Court strike down the federal ban on sports betting, it is likely that some states will combine efforts to get both sports betting and iGaming legalized.

The timing appears right, with sports betting and gambling in general becoming more acceptable nationwide, and even expected.

But there are several other major gaming issues that will be on the table, including land-based casino expansions, legalizing slot routes and the continued state- by-state push for daily fantasy sports.

Our 2018 National Legislative Preview takes a closer look at each of the key issues facing the gaming industry this year, and previews major legislation that is expected to surface, state-by-state.

KEY ISSUES

SPORTS BETTING is hotter than ever with the anticipated US Supreme Court decision coming sometime in the first half of the year, likely between March and June.

For the gaming industry, a full repeal of the ban would be the holy grail of outcomes, and it looks promising. While the court doesn’t care about gambling, it does care about the balance of the federal government’s power over states, and the federal sports betting ban presents an unbalanced approach.

We expect several states to move right away on efforts to legalize sports betting if the court strikes down the ban, including New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Mississippi and Rhode Island.

Efforts are beginning in several other states as well, with legislation already filed or being considered in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Plus, there’s another bill to repeal the ban at the federal level independent of a court decision, leaving approval to the states.

And while the four major professional sports leagues have historically been the biggest opponents of sports betting, the NBA has come out in favor of legalization, though in a federal framework, rather than by individual state laws.

This may not be the ideal option for gaming interests but it at least acknowleges a shift in perspective from a prior opponent.

iGAMING. With Pennsylvania becoming the fourth state to legalize online poker and casino games, there is an expectation that other states will follow.

Illinois, Michigan and New York might be the most likely candidates for passage this year, though West Virginia and New Hampshire might also be top contenders.

Other states such as Louisiana and Hawaii are expected to discuss the topic, though passage anytime soon is probably a long shot, especially for the latter.

Many observers believe that if sports betting is allowed, it makes sense to allow iGaming along with it. This will be a trend worth watching.

DAILY FANTASY SPORTS. While momentum has tempered compared to late 2016 and early 2017, DFS continues making strides, with Ohio being the most recent state to legalize the practice.

So far, 19 states have passed laws to expressly allow DFS contests and to classify them as games of skill rather than gambling.

This trend will likely continue state-by-state. Hawaii and Nebraska have already reintroduced bills this year. But the biggest states for DFS remain questionable. Those include Florida, Illinois and Texas. And in Texas, legislators won’t meet this year.

If the sports betting ban is lifted, what impact will that have on the appeal of daily fantasy sports, which has been widely considered sports betting’s alternative?

DFS giant DraftKings has indicated interest in creating a sports betting offering.

Edging closer, DraftKings has just released its first single-game fantasy contest.

LAND-BASED GAMING. There will be a significant number of efforts to expand traditional casino gaming this year, too.

- Louisiana could expand based on recommendations from the task force seeking to update state gaming laws. Among the possibilities: lift the cap on the size of the casino floor.

- Illinois will go through the annual effort to allow more casinos. A bill passed the Senate last year to allow six more casinos, plus slots at race tracks, which are itching to find a way to improve purses and keep their industry going.

- Connecticut may see another effort for a casino in Bridgeport to feed off the New York City market. MGM Resorts is pushing a project there, and now the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot Indians are interested, too.

- Georgia casino supporters are regrouping, although they face stiff opposition from state Republicans, and it’s an election year, which probably means another year of more noise than action.

Several large casino companies – among them MGM Resorts, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn – are interested in a $1 billion-plus casino in Atlanta, and their persistence suggests something might happen someday.

- Kentucky is another perennial long shot. A bill this year would authorize up to 10 casinos.

LOTTERIES. The trend is for lotteries to move online, as we saw with New Hampshire last year. Efforts for online sales in Massachusetts will likely come back up, and some of the six states without lotteries could try again to establish one, with legislation introduced in Hawaii and Mississippi.


For a copy of the full 20-page 2018 National Legislative Preview, contact Robin Coventry at 302-730-3793 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The report is $299, and includes a free trial to the weekly Fantini’s Public Policy Review.