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MD, SD, LA Ballot Measures LEGALIZE Sports Betting

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It seems as though more U.S. states are making a move toward introducing regulated sports betting to their residents. Gambling law changes were actually on the ballots of four states recently, and the measures passed in those four locations once voting was over on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Of those four states, three of them focused completely on sports betting being legalized – Maryland, South Dakota, and Louisiana.

SD, MD, LA Approve Sports Betting

With those three states now officially making sports betting opportunities legal, they bring the total number of states with legalized sports betting to 23. It was about two-and-a-half years ago that the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). In doing so, the Court made it possible for each individual state to introduce licensed sports betting options for their residents. Now almost half of the states within the country have done so, and various others are trying to move forward in this area as well.

SCOTUS Justices 2018Supreme Court Justices at the Time of the Murphy v. NCAA Ruling

Maryland Accepts “Question II”

Maryland State Map

It’s quite odd to hear it named as such, but on Maryland’s ballot, it was “Question II” that focused on the status of gambling. The query put to voters was:

Do you approve the expansion of commercial gaming in the State of Maryland to authorize sports and events betting for the primary purposes of raising revenue for education?

There was also a secondary question which looked into how the revenue from gambling would actually be allocated as well.

At the moment, Maryland features six commercial casinos, so it’s not so surprising that a retail sportsbook presence would likely be something to come. As it happens, voters in The Free State favored the legalization of sports betting by a 2:1 ratio. This leaves the Republican governor of the state as well as the Democratic-controlled Assembly with the job of figuring out which companies can proceed with applying for official licenses. Furthermore, they’ll need to work out how patrons will be able to place their bets as well as how much of a cut the State of Maryland will actually take from the revenue.

The Vice President for Government Affairs for the DraftKings platform, Griffin Finan, said that he was thrilled about Marylanders voting positively on Question II. He said that it is a “critical step to bringing legal sports betting to the state.” Finan went on to say that DraftKings looks forward to working with Maryland lawmakers in a bid to develop “a consumer-centric sports betting framework,” which he said will provide some “much-needed revenue for public education.”

As it happens, various sports betting companies already operate within the nearby states of New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. So it’s not such an unrealistic expectation that some of them will want to continue their expansion across the United States, meaning that Maryland could very well be next.

What Happens Next for Maryland?

The Maryland sports betting referendum was put together by the State Senate and House of Delegates earlier in 2020. Now that the state's voters have backed legalizing sports betting, it’s a step closer to happening properly.

However, the lawmakers still need to vote on the enablement of legislation so as to get the industry up and running once the legislature reconvenes in January 2021. Under the proposed Maryland law, a licensee would need to be able to pay the one-time application fee of up to $2.5 million, and this would then need to be renewed on an annual basis for an additional charge. It is thought that the law will also allow for mobile sports betting licenses to become available, allowing players to place bets through their smartphones and tablets.

An usual aspect of the law calling for the referendum is that Maryland needs to conduct a “disparity study” before sports betting goes live, and this will determine if racial minorities or women face a disadvantage when it comes to participation in the gambling industry. If this is the case, legislators also need to create provisions that will even out the playing field. This makes Maryland the first state to potentially set aside a betting license for a minority-run business.

South Dakota Sportsbooks Coming to Deadwood and Tribal Nations

Map of South Dakota

South Dakota already has various tribal casinos on Indian land as well as commercial casinos in Deadwood. Many of these entities wish to expand into sports betting. They managed to obtain overwhelming support from voters who approved “Amendment B” during the election process. This came about in a 58%-42% margin.

The ballot explanation for Amendment B read as follows:

The constitution currently authorizes the Legislature to allow certain types of gaming in the City of Deadwood: roulette, keno, craps, limited card games, and slot machines. The constitution amendment authorizes the Legislature to also include wagering on sporting events as a type of gaming allowed in Deadwood. Under federal law, any gaming authorized by the Legislature to be offered in Deadwood would also be allowed at on-reservation casinos upon amendments to current tribal gaming compacts.

As part of that ballot measure, the Constitution of the State of South Dakota is amended to permit sports betting although this is something that lawmakers need to pass follow-up legislation on, which is expected to occur in 2021.

The nine tribal governments that currently operate in South Dakota include the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux, Yankton Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, Crow Creek Sioux, Oglala Sioux, and Standing Rock Sioux amongst others. By amending their compacts with the state, they could potentially be able to host sportsbooks on tribal lands.

Mike Rodman, operating as the Executive Director of the Deadwood Gaming Association (DGA), said that they were “thankful to the voters of South Dakota for giving Deadwood this opportunity.” He continued to state that the DGA will reach out to the administration in a bid to see if they would like to start working on draft legislation for the 2021 session. Supporters of the amendment said that the introduction of legal sports betting and gaming would boost tourism and bring in new tax revenue to help the local cities, schools, and the state in general.

In the Pipeline for South Dakota

For the time being, sports betting and gambling are only permitted at the 25 casinos in Deadwood. However, those people who back online sports betting may introduce an argument for mobile wagering to be brought into effect as long as the computer servers for this are located in Deadwood. This city is well-known for its history relating to the Black Hills Gold Rush, so it’s little surprise that this is also the location chosen for legal sports betting to occur in South Dakota.

The Department of Revenue in Pierre, South Dakota is already working on a plan to implement new laws relating not only to legal sports betting but the introduction of legal marijuana as well. It didn’t take long for the department to make an announcement, one day after the revelation of the vote, to say that it is already consulting with the South Dakota Department of Health and the state's Gaming Commission. This, it said, is so that a framework can be built up around the wishes of the state’s voters.

Louisiana Votes on a Parish-by-Parish Basis

Louisiana Outline Map

The state of Louisiana isn’t like any of the others that recently legalized sports betting. Instead, counties within the state are known as parishes, so the measure was introduced to ballots on a parish-by-parish basis. As part of that state’s constitution, certain forms of gambling are restricted although it allows for parish-level voter referendums relating to gaming expansions within each parish. These need to be approved by a majority of both houses of the legislature as well as the Louisiana governor.

The Bayou State's legislature remains under Republican control, but they went on to support the sports betting legislature in an overwhelming majority. This was also backed by the Democratic governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, who initially approved it for the 2020 ballot. However, the legislation actually did very little to explain or regulate sports betting in the state. Instead, it simply placed it on the ballot for voters and then granted oversight of it to the Louisiana Gaming Control Board (LGCB).

The question, as presented to the voters, was worded in the following way:


Shall sports wagering activities and operations be permitted in the parish of PARISH NAME?

YES ( )
NO ( )

The LGCB already regulates the casinos in the state, and in 2018, a ballot approval granted access to Daily Fantasy Sports. A total of 92% of Louisiana’s population voted to approve DFS with the vote for this also being conducted on a parish-by-parish basis. However, at the same time, the law stated that “participation in any fantasy sports contest…shall not be considered gambling…”

As far as sports betting is concerned, all 12 parishes in the New Orleans metro area approved the proposition to allow it, and 56 of the 64 parishes statewide voted “Yes.” However, the appropriate laws and regulations still need to be created, and this includes how the new income from sports betting would be taxed. Such laws and regulations need to be drafted prior to sports betting becoming available in each of the parishes that approved it.

How Does Louisiana Proceed Now?

It is expected that those who backed the proposal for legal sports betting will be able to proceed with engaging in such by late 2021 or early 2022. The new parameters relating to sports betting will need to be hammered out by the state’s lawmakers. Those parameters will also include whether or not the new rules will allow for wagering to occur in limited locations, such as what happens in Mississippi at the moment. An alternative to this is for bettors to be able to wager via mobile devices and computers, such as what is available in New Jersey and several other states.

Earlier this year, State Rep. John Stefanski, said that the rules surrounding sports betting will likely generate a lot more controversy than how the industry ends up being taxed. That, he said, will pose another difficult issue to get around for legislators. He pointed out that the issue is likely to come from the fact that some people believe sports betting should be limited to the state’s land-based casinos, while others insist it should be available as something that can be done from home.

Hitherto, Louisiana residents have had to drive to nearby Mississippi to place sports bets at licensed facilities. However, times have now changed with the introduction of legalized sports betting in The Pelican State. This will let Louisiana capture some of the revenue from it rather than seeing it go to other states instead.

Nebraska Remains Unclear

Nebraska Map

Nebraska was the fourth state to OK new gambling expansion when the electorate granted approval for traditional gambling to take place at the six horse-racing tracks. However, it’s not yet clear as to whether sports betting will be able to take place at the same locations.

The ballot measure was actually aimed at dissuading residents from crossing state borders to access casino-style games. While it could be argued that legalized sports betting in The Cornhusker State would be the next logical step, it doesn’t look like anything has really been finalized with regard to it for the time being. More clarity needs to be brought forward via the state legislature before anyone jumps to conclusions about this.

Playing Poker and Placing Sports Bets Online


The three new sports betting states still have a ways to go before their licensed enterprises open up for business, but sports betting can still be accessed by their residents. Various offshore sites not only provide such options, but legal online poker and casino gaming as well. And what’s more, these sites aren’t only accessible to one or a few states but to people from all over the United States.

Why not check out a guide to the best online sports betting sites in the USA? Various platforms are mentioned there, which feature multiple online gambling opportunities.

If you're a poker player, then you'll be pleased to learn that your game of choice is widely available online too. Head over to this USA offshore poker guide for further info.