Published: January 14, 2018

Next States to Legalize Online Gambling in the US?

In 2017, Pennsylvania became only the fourth US state to legalize online gambling since Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey did so in 2013. This year, however, a number of states may be encouraged by the good news to adopt legislation of their own, with the next most promising candidates currently being Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, and Illinois.

Last year, Massachusetts Sen. Bruce Tarr introduced S 200 which seeks to allow the state’s three brick-and-mortar casinos to offer online gambling products. The bill has since carried over to the 2018 legislative session, while there is also a strong likelihood of further legislation being crafted in order to satisfy recommendations made by the Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming, and Daily Fantasy Sports.

Similarly, Rep. Eric Schleien introduced H 562 last year which would decriminalize any online gambling activity within New Hampshire. In addition, there is also talk of incorporating iGaming legislation into New Hampshire’s nascent online lottery program so as to facilitate a smooth advancement of online gambling in the state.

In the meantime, Sen. John Bonacic and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow are two keys figures in the struggle to have online gambling legalized in New York, with the lawmakers having introduced bills S 3898 and A 5250, respectively. Despite their failures to advance, the bills are already being discussed in 2018, though, with Pretlow stating that he hopes to redress the topic next month.

Another promising prospect in 2018 is Rhode Island, which has yet to produce any legislation at all, but with Sen. William Conley hinting at movement on the front after stating that his colleague Senate president Dominick J. Ruggerio seemed amenable to the idea of looking seriously at the issue in order to generate revenues for the state.

Debate over online gambling legislation is also a hot topic in Michigan, and is likely to come straight onto the agenda after lawmakers come back from their breaks on January 10th. While Rep. Brandt Iden is helping to drive forward debate, he will still have to overcome significant opposition presented by tribal interests and corporations with a vested interest on the issue.

Finally, Illinois is only a stone’s throw away from becoming the fifth state to legalize iGaming in the US, with Rep. Michael Zalewski’s amended version of H 479 referred from the House to the Rules Committee last year. This then opens up the possibility the bill landing on the governor’s desk after a receiving a committee green light followed by a positive House vote. In the meantime, two more Senate bills have made progress in the state, with both increasing the possibility of a bill’s eventual passage in the legislature this year.

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