Missouri, Massachusetts, Maine: US iGaming’s Big Wheel Keeps on Turning
Regulated sports betting and iGaming continues its relentless march across America with the states of Missouri, Massachusetts and Maine now poised to expand and codify their definitions of legal betting.
Although sports betting in Missouri, for example, is still technically illegal; it’s common knowledge that local punters play legitimate sportsbooks that are based in neighbouring states.
As illustrated in hit TV series Ozark, legal betting in the “Show-Me” state is based, and tied to, the historic gambling boats and floating casinos that once plied the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.
On board these floating palaces of luck and chance, the state allows games of blackjack, craps and poker. And slots. Bingo too is legal but only when sponsored by a charity.
The state, for its part, operates an official lottery, designed to boost education funding for its six million residents.
Last month a combined bill to legalise sports betting–supported by all of Missouri’s sports teams, and most casino operators–came before the state’s House of Representatives. It is now waiting Senate approval.
Tax rates have not yet been agreed but most observers concur that operators will face a levy of somewhere between eight to 21 per cent on action, on top of a licensing fee upon registration.
Taxes aside, the proposed bill will allow 39 separate sportsbook skins in the state, distributed between Missouri’s 13 casinos and six professional sports teams.
Casinos would be allowed a maximum of one retail skin and three online skins. Sports teams would be given one online skin but also be allowed to ally with other sportsbook operators.
Licensing fees have been set at US$100,000 (£79,640/€94,940) for retail casinos and US$150,000 (£119,450/€142,400) for mobile operators per annum.
If the momentum continues, Missouri could have legal, regulated iGaming in the state by the Autumn.
Massachusetts On It.
Meantime, Massachusetts, home to a plethora of legendary sports teams among them baseball’s Boston Red Sox and American football’s New England Patriots, is also getting it on.
The state Senate is currently considering a law which would formalise sports betting as a legal pastime, although, perhaps not surprisingly in this traditionally high-tax state levies would be amongst the steepest in the country.
And there would be super tough controls on advertising, branding and marketing giveaways and promotions.
Marketing during a live sporting event, for example, would only be allowed if it “can be reasonably expected that at least 85 per cent of the audience is 21 or older”.
Betting on college sports will remain outlawed across all formats.
Sports betting revenue taxes would be set at 35 per cent for iGaming and 20 per cent for retail.
A so-called ‘Category 1’ sports betting licence, available only to current gaming licensees–MGM’s Springfield casino, Plainridge Park Casino from Penn National Gaming and Wynn’s Encore Boston Harbor–would cost a cool US$5 million (£3.98m/€4.74m).
These operators would each be limited to retail sports betting and one online skin.
Massachusetts’ Lottery Commission would also be empowered to issue a maximum of six ‘Category 2’ online-only sports betting licences, each, likewise, costing US$5 million.
It is hoped, furthermore, that the state’s Native American Tribes will, in turn, be offered there own exclusive ‘Category 3’ licences that will allow sports betting.
The Maine Chance
And so finally further north, and up to the state of Maine, bordering Canada.
A bill that will allow sports betting operations by Maine’s local tribes and some commercial racetracks is now awaiting final approval by the state governor.
Watch this space.