[toc]Despite the cynicism and all of the Lucy with the football references we’re so fond of using, online gambling legislation has made quite a bit of progress in 2017.
The exceptions to this progress are Michigan and California.
Michigan’s online gaming efforts already stalled in 2017.
On the bright side, no less than three states have positioned themselves to pass a bill this year. Additionally, several new online gaming candidates have emerged.
Granted, there is still a long way to go before any celebrations. However, less than halfway through 2017, online gambling advocates have racked up a lot more legislative W’s than L’s. Now we just need to win the big one.
Other online gambling bills making more progress
In 2017, online gambling bills have been passed by legislative chambers in two states: the Pennsylvania Senate and the Illinois Senate. This already matches last year’s tally. In 2016, the New York Senate and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed online gambling bills.
In addition to legislative movement, two states jumped into the online gambling discussion for the first time in 2017: West Virginia and New Hampshire.
Even though the bills in these rookie states didn’t gain any traction, their introduction lays the groundwork for future legalization talk.
Discounting California, online poker/casino legislation remains active in five states.
- New York
Three of these states – Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York – still have a real shot at passing a bill this year.
Here’s a quick look at where online gambling legislation currently stands in each of these five states.
Pennsylvania on the verge of legalized online gambling
Of all the states listed, Pennsylvania is the closest to passing an online gambling bill.
As noted above, the Senate already passed a bill. The House passed a bill last year. That is a clear signal that an appetite for online gambling legalization exists in both legislative bodies. They both might be hungry, but the two chambers haven’t been able to agree on what to eat. The House and Senate have divergent ideas on how online gambling should be legalized.
In order for a bill to pass, the Senate and the House need to mesh their ideas together and find enough legislative common ground to craft a bill capable of passing both chambers.
Illinois casino Hail Mary still up in the air
Up until a couple weeks ago, no one had Illinois on their online gambling watch list. A frenzied end to the legislative session (which has been extended) thrust Illinois to the forefront. The Senate merged online gambling and daily fantasy sports (DFS) legalization. Then, they tacked them on to an existing bill.
The bill passed by a 42-10 margin, which sent it back to the House for consideration.
With budget talks still stalled, the House is in a “continuous session”, which keeps online gambling’s hopes alive for the time being.
New York still pushing for iGaming this year
New York’s online poker bill passed two Senate committees. It could still make an Illinois-esque late run at passage. Time is beginning to run short for the Empire State though.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see legislation pass the Senate for a second consecutive year, but its fate in the House is less certain. Things become even more complicated when you throw in the uncertainty expressed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.
Massachusetts eyes 2018 for gambling expansion
A special commission greenlighted last year will submit online gambling and DFS recommendations to the Massachusetts legislature by the end of July. Unfortunately, the July deadline makes passing an online gambling bill in 2017 dicey, so Massachusetts’ desire to get into the online gambling game looks like it will have to wait until next year.
The good news is, with favorable data and recommendations expected from the special commission, Massachusetts should be poised to make a real run at online gambling legalization in 2018.
Michigan making little progress
Michigan burst onto the online gambling scene in 2016, but a lack of support among the state’s commercial and tribal casino stakeholders seems to have derailed efforts in 2017.
Bills have been filed, and a hearing has been held, but unless there is radical change, Michigan is unlikely to pass online gaming legislation in 2017.