Multiple US states have now undertaken measures to legalize sports betting. New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky are just a few of the states where lawmakers will debate sports betting legislation in 2019. This comes as a result of a federal decision in late 2018 which permitted states to render their own judgments on the matter.
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In many states the lawmakers are looking at pairing sports betting with existing horse race betting operations. This could be a shot in the arm for the US horse racing industry which has seen declining revenues in recent years. In the very near future you may be able to bet on your favorite sports at the local track or at an online horse betting site if you live in one of the US states where it becomes legal.
Legalized Sports Betting in the United States
Sports betting is a major industry in the US. It brings in billions of dollars each year in revenues, and this is just from legal sports books in Nevada. That does not account for the money that is wagered illegally through bookies. For years the federal government has taken a strong stance against sports betting, with the US Justice Department enforcing its illegality under the Wire Act.
In December of 2018 a bill was introduced which granted states the right to reach their own decisions on sports betting. New Jersey was one of the first states to act, and there are now several online sportsbooks which are legal for residents of the state. Pennsylvania and Delaware followed suit. Many states saw an opportunity to resolve their existing budget crises with the revenues generated from gaming licenses and taxes.
Still, implementing legislation is not always an easy matter. Some states have opted to allow their state lottery commissions to oversee sports betting. This saves time and money that would be needed to open up a new authority. Other states are thinking about merging sports betting with horse racing operations in their state.
Are Horse Racing and Sports Betting a Good Mix?
Several years ago many race tracks in the US found themselves in a predicament from which there was seemingly no escape. The attendance at live racing events was down, and it was becoming difficult for the race tracks to provide purses for the horsemen. Some tracks were forced to close in the wake of these developments. Others were saved by a partnership with casino gaming.
Some states like Louisiana passed measures that allowed race tracks to have slot machines and video poker. The revenue earned from these games was funneled to racing purses, allowing horse racing to continue. In exchange, the gaming companies that provided the slot machines and video poker games were given large controlling interests in the racing properties.
Under the arrangement horse racing has had a rebirth of sorts. Attendance is slowly coming back, and there is more money to pay those who compete in the races. A similar situation may be on the horizon with sports betting companies. Sportsbooks could agree to invest money in horse racing operations in exchange for a place to host their services.
Horse racing and sports betting would seemingly be a good mix. There are many people who bet on the races that also like to wager on sports. Having everything under one umbrella might encourage more participation on both sides of the equation.
It is also possible that the legalization of online sports betting in the US could lead to more online racebooks as well. This would give the handicapper more betting choices, and it would also encourage competition among the racebooks that could lead to more player bonuses or promotions.
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