Last week was a potentially significant week for online and other forms of betting in the US, as states went to the polls to vote in the midterms. State governors, Senate seats and issue referendums were on the ballots in every state, and many of the races were watched closely by the betting community for the impact they could have on the adoption – or otherwise – of various forms of betting. As far as can be told at this stage, the results have reflected an “as you were” attitude among American voters – with California, whose sports betting referendums were covered last week, reflecting a general distaste for change at this point.
Georgia: Incumbent governor remains in post, still some hope for bettors
Democratic hopeful Stacey Abrams sought to unseat reigning governor Brian Kemp in a touchstone race in the Peach State, and an Abrams win would likely have brought renewed efforts to legalize both sports betting and casino resorts in Georgia. However, Kemp won with relative comfort and remains in the gubernatorial mansion for another two years. This doesn’t mean the end for efforts to legalize sports betting; Kemp has recently changed his tune and is willing to work with lawmakers on whatever legislation they put his way. On balance, though, this vote went against measures to liberalize betting law. There may still be movement on the issue in the New Year, but the mood has trended away from it.
New York: Hochul defeats Zeldin, no repeal of sports betting
In New York, Lee Zeldin poured significant effort and funds into trying to become the state’s first Republican governor since George Pataki left office in 2006. Had he been elected, it’s not clear what his moves on betting would have been; he’s known to be skeptical about it himself, but the money it has brought in for state spending would certainly be missed. In the event, Zeldin – who had polled neck-and-neck with incumbent Kathy Hochul – was handily defeated, and New York will likely now press ahead with the process of simplifying sports betting and allowing for futures markets, a step which was missed in the initial legislation.
Texas: Guarded optimism after Abbott re-election
Texas is certainly something of a “white whale” for the betting industry. A huge and populous state with a fanatical sports fan base, it certainly has the market to support betting if it were to be legalized. And governor Greg Abbott has recently indicated that he would be open to working on legislation if it were to be placed on his desk.
A conservative state, Texas would certainly see multiple obstacles raised in terms of the legalization of sports betting, but eyes will increasingly be on the state legislature, where lawmakers are keenly aware that sports betting fans in the state regularly make trips to nearby Louisiana and Oklahoma to place bets. That’s money that could be spent in Texas, so we may see movement on the issue in 2023.