Mobile sports betting is booming in some states while others recede

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The stakes are higher in Ohio this year for March Madness, and not just because it’s a regional host for the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

For the first time, Ohio sports fans can click on a mobile app or access kiosks at bars, restaurants or supermarkets and legally bet on the famous tournament.

Kansas and Massachusetts are also new additions to the world of online sports betting since the NCAA tournament was last reported. A total of 33 states and the District of Columbia now offer at least some form of sports betting, each vying for shares in a multibillion-dollar company that has expanded rapidly after the US Supreme Court allowed it nearly five years.

Ohio got off to a healthy start when it launched sports betting in January. In its first month, Ohio gamblers wagered more than $1.1 billion, generating more than $20 million in state tax revenue. That nearly tripled the amount of revenue that legislative analysts had projected for the first six months of operation. But no one blames them for missing the mark.

“They couldn’t tell how big a market we were going to have on day one,” said Jessica Franks, director of communications for the Ohio Casino Control Commission.

While some states started with limited in-person sports betting and gradually added mobile apps, Ohio started more aggressively, simultaneously launching numerous mobile options and retail stores. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine is now proposing to double the tax rate on sports betting.

New York began allowing sports betting in 2019, but only in person at four upstate casinos, limiting the market. Gambling skyrocketed when the state began allowing people to place sports bets via cell phones and computers in January 2022. In the first month, more than $1.6 billion was wagered through online sports betting, compared with just $15 million through in-person sports betting at casinos. .

New York levies a 51% tax on mobile sports betting revenue, a much higher rate than other states, with most of the revenue going to education. Budget officials originally projected that mobile sports betting would generate $357 million in state tax revenue for fiscal year 2023, which ends March 31. The gamblers have wasted it. Through February, mobile sports betting had generated $661 million in education tax revenue.

State Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., who advocated for sports betting as chairman of the Senate Racing, Gaming and Gambling Committee, said even he is stunned by the results.

“There is certainly an appetite for sports betting on a mobile device,” Addabbo said.

New York and Ohio have large populations and multiple professional sports teams to help drive interest in sports betting.

Arkansas, a much smaller state with no major league sports teams, began in-person sports betting in casinos in July 2019. Things really took off last year when it launched mobile sports betting. State figures show nearly $3 million was wagered on this year’s Super Bowl, more than three times the annual amount before mobile betting was allowed.

State officials hope that people from neighboring states will cross into Arkansas to gamble on March Madness.

“We’ll be surprised if March doesn’t set a new monthly record for sports betting in the state,” said Scott Hardin, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.

Other states have also exceeded expectations for sports betting revenue.

Indiana’s sports betting taxes topped $31 million in fiscal year 2022, far more than the projection of $12 million when lawmakers authorized it in 2019. New Hampshire’s tax collection of nearly $24 million from sportsbook easily doubled its original projection for fiscal year 2022.

But not all states are putting down as many dollars as projected into sports betting.

Legislative analysts in Montana, which allows sports betting only from online networks inside bars and casinos, had anticipated $79 million in betting would be launched last fiscal year, generating $4.8 million in state tax revenue. The actual results were about half of that: $2.4 million of state tax revenue from about $45 million of sports betting.

Connecticut received less than $20 million in sports betting taxes in the first 16 months since betting began in October 2021. Legislative analysts had projected $21 million in its first full fiscal year.

Nationwide, legal sports betting has generated more than $3 billion in state and federal taxes since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that allowed it, according to the American Gaming Association. It’s producing about a quarter of what could eventually be expected from a fully mature market.

The sports betting debate has changed from “Is this something we should consider?” to ‘How should we do this in a way that best serves our constituents?’” said Casey Clark, the association’s senior vice president.

The prospects for sports betting expanding to more states this year appear mixed.

A bill legalizing sports betting passed the Kentucky House of Representatives and advanced to the Senate on Wednesday, but still faces a major hurdle. Similar bills have died in the Senate in the past, and this year’s version would need three-fifths of the vote to pass.

Supporters are also taking another shot at a sports betting bill in Minnesota and several other states.

In Missouri, attempts to authorize sports betting have stalled in the Senate over whether to combine it with regulations on slot machine games that have been appearing in convenience stores.

In Georgia, sports betting bills have stalled amid debate over whether a constitutional amendment is needed, how to spend potential tax revenue, and whether to combine sports betting with legalizing casinos and horse racing tracks. .

The three most populous states, California, Texas, and Florida, currently lack online sports betting. The Seminole Tribe of Florida, which was granted exclusive state sports betting rights, shut down its online application in December 2021 after federal courts ruled it violated a rule requiring people to be physically present on tribal land when gambling. .

After the costliest electoral battle in US history, California voters last November rejected a pair of rival sports betting initiatives backed by Native American tribes and the gaming industry. Supporters are likely to try again, though it’s unclear when that might happen.


Lieb reported from Jefferson City, Mo. Associated Press writers Jeff Amy in Atlanta; Tom Davies in Indianapolis; Andrew DeMillo in Little Rock, Arkansas; Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; Amy Beth Hanson in Helena, Mont.; Steve Karnowski in St. Paul, Minnesota; Maysoon Khan in Albany, New York; Holly Ramer in Concord, NH; Bruce Schreiner in Frankfort, Kentucky; and Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this report.

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