As voters in Arkansas and Louisiana voters go to the polls, the future of gambling in their states will be up for decision.
These two states are well known for their love of horse racing and they are now looking at sports betting proposals. Louisiana is looking at full legalization of sports betting, whereas Arkansas is looking at legalizing daily fantasy sports.
From a sports betting stance, these are the votes that most people will be watching from across the nation. Legalized sports betting is gradually spreading across the country since the Supreme Court’s decision in May 2018 to end the federal ban on the activity.
Six states will be voting on gambling-related issues during these November midterms.
Measures up for the vote in Arkansas
Arkansas voters will be considering Issue 4, which is a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would see four new casino licenses being issued by the Arkansas Racing Commission.
Two current operators (Southland Racing Corporation and the Oaklawn Jockey Club) and two new establishments would receive these licenses. At the moment, electric skill games are allowed at the two former institutions.
If the motion is approved, Southland Racing Corporation and the Oaklawn Jockey Club will be able to expand their gambling operations and offer sports betting services to their customers. This would be very popular, especially given the profile of the facilities in question. Oaklawn is where the world-renowned Kentucky Derby takes place each year.
A report from the University of Arkansas’ Economic Development Institute estimates that GDP in Arkansas could rise by as much as $6bn in the next 10 years and more than 6,000 new jobs would be created if approved.
The study was commissioned by Driving Arkansas Forward, a group that has been pushing for these casino licenses. Arkansas residents made more than 1.1 million visits to casinos in nearby states in 2017. The main benefactor was Mississippi, the fourth state to offer sports betting since the federal ban ended.
Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson is opposed to proposed vote. The only policy she is supporting as part of this proposal is to give state lottery funding to scholarship programs. The motion proposes a new 13% tax on casino operators’ first $150m in net revenues, rising to 20% for sums greater than $150m.
Measures up for the vote in Louisiana
Louisiana voters are deciding on whether daily fantasy sports will be allowed in the state. This has become extremely popular across the US in recent years, with leaders in the space, including DraftKings and FanDuel.
These two companies have since entered the sports betting space since the federal ban was overturned. Their main focus is in New Jersey where they operate sportsbooks out of different establishments, as well as having respective mobile offerings.
Voters in each of the 64 parishes in Louisiana will be deciding whether to legalize daily fantasy sports in their own jurisdictions, rather than on a state-wide level. Many are confident that at least 50 parishes will approve the motion. A bill is being readied for the 2019 legislative session to fully legalize sports betting in the state.
Gambling-related votes in other states
A few other states could see significant changes in their approach to sports betting depending on the outcomes of their elections.
In Ohio, for example, the Democrat and Republican candidates are in a head-to-head battle, which will have a significant impact on whether or not sports betting will be legalized next year.
Democrat Richard Cordray has said that he will consider legalizing sports betting in order to inhibit the significant black market that exists in the space. Republican candidate Mike DeWine has been the attorney general in Ohio since 2011 and has always staunchly opposed legal sports betting.
A pending sports betting bill in Ohio will not be considered by the committee until the elections are over.
With a notable turnover experienced in Michigan’s House and Senate, efforts to legalize sports betting may slow down. The House of Representatives gave its approval to a bill back in June that would see further forms of online gambling and sports betting legalized.
However, no traction has been made to date in the Senate. If there is a notable shakeup in both houses, the bill could have a turbulent outcome.
In Florida, Amendment 3 is the key gambling-related dossier. This proposed amendment would see voters being given the power to decide upon the expansion of gambling laws in the state.
If this happens, the legaliation of sports betting will almost certainly be dead in the water. This is why the likes of the Miami Dolphins and Disney are pushing for a Yes vote for this motion.