While many voters across the nation will be casting their ballots inside sports arenas, people in Maryland, Nebraska, South Dakota and Louisiana will be asked to weigh in on sports gambling questions too. If one or more of the measures passes, it’ll extend the significant move to legal sports betting in the country. In May 2018, the Supreme Court opened the door for more gambling when it overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, a 1992 law that outlawed sports wagering in most jurisdictions. Now, a total of 22 states and the District of Columbia have legalized athletic wagering, according to Morningstar.
The most significant ballot initiative is in Maryland, where voters will consider Question 2 “to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purpose of raising revenue for education.” If most voters choose yes, it’s expected the state legislature would take up hammering out the details in January, according to the Baltimore Sun. FanDuel is the top donor promoting a yes vote, according to Ballotpedia, having donated $1.5 million to the cause. Competitor DraftKings is the second-largest donor, with $250,000.
In Nebraska, voters have three related questions. Initiative 429 would amend the state constitution, which explicitly bans gambling, to carve out an exemption for betting–including sports betting– at racetracks. Initiative 430 would then bring gambling into the state, authorizing games of chance at established racetracks and creating a regulatory body. A majority of yes votes would pass the initiative, but only if 429 is also passed. Voters in the Cornhusker State then will decide Initiative 431, which provides for taxation of those gambling proceeds. The proposal states 20% of gross revenue from gambling would be collected by the taxman, most of it to be funneled into property tax relief.
One state north, voters in South Dakota will be asked to amend their state constitution to allow casinos in the city of Deadwood to expand their operations to include sports betting. Deadwood is by far the gambling hub of the state, with more than two dozen casinos in the historic city.
In Louisiana, voters have eight amendments and propositions to consider, including voting to permit “sports wagering and activities” in their local parish. If approved by each of the state’s 64 parishes, it could generate up to $330 million in net revenue and some $50 million in taxes, according to a local news report.
There is also a gambling measure in Colorado to raise the maximum wager a person can place in a casino from $100, but that limit already doesn’t apply to sports gambling, which was approved last year.
Legal sports bets will probably equal the $90 billion nationwide spending on lotteries by 2024, according to Morningstar. That would still be significantly smaller than the illegal sports wagering market, which probably was $150 billion in 2019.
(This story has been updated in the headline and to include information about Louisiana’s measure.)