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Which States Will Legalize Sports Betting in 2021? Predictions from 9 Industry Pros

Sports Betting Predictions for 2021

2020 wasn’t a great year, as we all know, but despite all that happened during the last 12 months, we did see a few more states introduce sports betting throughout the year.

We were especially excited about online betting in Tennessee and Illinois. For all updates, make sure to check out our timeline for all the major developments in the US betting industry.

Now that we’ve entered 2021 everyone is asking: Which states are next to legalize sports betting in the US?

We asked a few of our sports betting aficionados friends to give us their predictions about the states that will introduce betting this year.


Brandt Iden – Head of Government Affairs, US, at Sportradar

As a betting man, my money is on Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Georgia to legalize this year. With an outside chance that Arizona will legalize given the Governor’s desire to open up tribal compacts for negotiations.

Separately I’d put some action on New York to adopt mobile, and Indiana to adopt i-Gaming.

2021 is going to be an active year for legislation and a great year for the US market.


Evan Davis – Managing Director at SeventySix Capital Sports Advisory

Ohio, Missouri, and Massachusetts are at the top of my list of states that are likely to legalize sports betting this year. All of them are adjacent to states with legal sports betting and are currently losing significant tax revenues for no good reason, and all of them have legislators that have shown significant interest in getting this across the finish line.

Hopefully, these states (and others) not only legalize sports wagering but do so in a fashion that makes sense. In Massachusetts, for example, universities are asking the state legislature to prohibit wagering on NCAA games, which will do nothing except drive this type of wagering underground and limit the tax revenues captured by the state.

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention New York, which has already legalized brick-and-mortar casino betting but is contemplating whether to expand this to allow for mobile wagering. While the bills that have been introduced by legislators are generally sensible, the governor’s proposed format would have sports betting exist as a state-sponsored monopoly, a structure that’s proven to be suboptimal in other states and will likely cost the state money in the long run.


Dan Kustelski – Co-Founder and CEO at Chalkline Sports

Coming out of 2020, we foresee terrific regulatory progress this year.

In addition to Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio and Missouri, we see New York turning on mobile. Additionally, North Dakota and Oklahoma are likely to pass legislation, one way or the other.

Finally, our moonshot pick: Texas. If that happens in 2021, the year will exceed expectation.


Scott Eagles – Manager at Sports Betting at Atlantic Lottery Corporation

I’ll put the over/under at 5.5. 

While it takes time to get bills passed, create regulatory frameworks, agree on licensing models, and so on, many states are highly motivated to introduce new tax revenue streams. 

The following list of candidates doesn’t include states like New York, where mobile wagering is imminent, but wagers are currently being taken at Casinos:  

  • Louisiana. With majority support from the public, it seems likely that we’ll see bets taken at retail in 2021. Regulatory issues will hold up online wagering until 2022.
  • North Carolina and South Dakota. Retail and tribal casinos will likely take bets in 2021, but like Louisiana, mobile wagering will have to wait a bit longer.
  • Maryland. With public support and surrounded by states where it’s already legal, Maryland will fast track its regulatory and licensing framework.
  • Missouri and Kansas. Momentum was dashed in early 2020 when COVID hit. It is imminent that we see bets taken in these states. Sooner than later.
  • Massachusetts and Connecticut. Everyone agrees on legalizing.  No one agrees on the framework.  50/50 chance at least one of the two can work something out in 2021.

One could come from the following: Maine, Arizona, Kentucky and Ohio.

We could see Texas change its position, but it’s unlikely they can be prepared to offer sports betting by the end of the year.


Zachary Kastelic – Attorney and CIPP/US at Gilson Daub

I would say that Connecticut is probably the front-runner right now for legalizing sports betting in 2021.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation recently entered a deal with DraftKings and from what I have read, Gov. Lamont doesn’t appear to be as opposed to giving sports betting exclusivity to the two tribes operating in the state- – but we’ll have to see how things progress.

After Connecticut, I would say my home state of Missouri has the next best chance of getting a sports wagering bill passed this year. There have been multiple sports wagering bills introduced in either the MO House or MO Senate and sports wagering has bipartisan support in the show-me state.

Additionally, neighboring states like Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas, and Tennessee have all legalized sports wagering, which has only increased the sense of urgency for MO legislators.

Finally, New York is in a better position than Nebraska given Gov. Cuomo’s recent support of legalizing mobile sports betting to help with New York’s budget issues.

Certainly, Nebraska is still a possibility but we’ll have to see how sports wagering is defined in that state. Is it a game of chance or game of skill?


Matt Birnbach – Advisor at The Brag House

I think Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Kentucky will legalize sports betting this year.

New York is a big one, not because they want to but because they have to (similar to what happened with Cannabis/Marijuana). Florida and California will make progress, but not this year.

It would be nice if more states legalize sports betting, but most seem to be going in the right direction.


Zack Panos – Co-Founder of 4castersports

New York is the state that most people are excited about. There, retail sports betting is legal but online betting is still not available.

Personally, I am most curious about Nebraska, which just legalized casino gambling. It will be interesting to see how quickly sports betting legislation comes into the fold. Nebraska can become a good benchmark for how quickly a state can move from only casino gambling to sports betting; the current bill says “any game of chance”.

I am also curious to see if mobile sports betting comes to Nebraska or New York first.


Oren Langburt

Oren Langburt – Sports Betting and iGaming Consultant

I think Connecticut is the next one off the board. They seem to be closest to the finish line with no real roadblocks in sight.

Missouri had a real good chance to get something passed last year until Covid derailed those efforts. They have a few bills on the table for 2021 with the support needed.

States like Massachusetts and Ohio, where momentum fell just short in 2020, are likely to rebound this year, especially with neighboring states already offering sports betting to their residents.

New York already has retail sports betting but it has amounted to very little. They need online if they want a real chance at cutting their deficit. There’s been lots of momentum around online these last few days with Cuomo finally supporting it, however, it looks like they still have a lot to figure out. My guess is they’ll get it done in 2021 but not before Q4.


James McLoughlin – Sports Betting Expert at Betfair

We can see the State governments need as many revenue levers as possible in 2021 and few are as attractive as sports betting.

We saw that with the Cuomo comments. And despite his lottery monopoly statements, I have New York as slight betting favorite to be a mobile betting state with all the big players operating.

Connecticut looks ready to go and Massachusetts is a coin flip. I like Ohio and Missouri to get up too.

Plus maybe a surprise on top. States need cash.

Conclusion

So, Connecticut and mobile betting in New York are top front runners. Which states did our panel miss? What are your predictions? Drop us a note or share it with us on Twitter.

2021 will be an interesting year for sports betting, that’s for sure. We are keeping our fingers crossed for more retail and online betting, new sportsbooks entering the market, and exciting partnerships.

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Happy betting!

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