The 2021 National Football League season kicked off last Thursday night. Tom Brady led the defending champs Tampa Bay Buccaneers to victory in the season opener match against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium. This NFL season debut is what several US states chasing regulated sports betting have been using as a marker for a pivoted market launch.
So far, only four states, Wyoming, Arizona, South Dakota, and Washington, managed to get their sports betting markets in time for the NFL season blast-off. According to the American Gaming Association, this brings the total number of US jurisdictions with active legal sports betting markets right now to 27 – 26 states and the District of Columbia.
Wyoming: Sports Betting Launch – Wednesday, September 1st
During a special meeting on Wednesday, September 1st in Casper, the Wyoming Gaming Commission (WGC) unanimously okayed the sports betting for DraftKings and BetMGM. According to reports from Gillette News Record, the DraftKings sportsbook went live, 23 minutes after the end of the WGC meeting on that day, with BetMGM following suit later in the day.
The Cowboy State is now the 13th US state to invite DraftKings to legally operate within its state lines, whereas BetMGM now has a presence in the 14th state across the country. Following the Wyoming approval, DraftKings co-founder and President Matt Kalish welcomed the news saying:
“We are thrilled that Wyoming sports bettors have the opportunity to experience the highly accessible and immersive fan experience along with best in class consumer protections that our product offers millions of skin-in-the-game sports fans.”
BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt also shared a few words as follows:
“We’re ecstatic that BetMGM is one of the first mobile sports betting platforms to launch in Wyoming, just in time for the start of the football season. Wyoming is an important state for us as we continue to expand BetMGM’s footprint in the West. We’re confident that its sports fans will enjoy the BetMGM experience.”
Wyoming’s sports betting debut was perfect timing as it gave sports fans in the state more than a week’s head start before the football season kick-off to familiarize themselves with the wagering options. Since March, it has taken only six months for the state to launch its online-only sports betting market after the House of Representatives re-evaluated a sports betting bill that they had previously shot down.
Governor Mark Gordon then signed the reconsidered sports betting bill into law on April 6th, and the WGC shifted into high gear to draft a regulatory framework. Wyoming is now the second US state to offer online-only sports betting, following in the footsteps of Tennessee. Fanduel, Barstool Sportsbook, and PointsBet are expected to join DraftKings and BetMGM in the Cowboy State next month.
Arizona: Sports Betting Launch – Thursday, September 9th
In the Grand Canyon State, sports fans were officially allowed to place wagers legally on their favorite sports teams last Thursday, both in-person and online, right from the comfort of their homes. Governor Doug Ducey signed Arizona’s regulated sports betting bill into law in April, after years of renegotiating tribal compacts that were okayed by the US DOI in May.
Gov. Ducey’s administration had to agree to expanded gaming for the tribes in exchange for letting professional sports teams open sportsbooks off tribal reservation territory. The Arizona tribes were allowed to offer new gambling games in tribal casinos and increase their bet limits as a trade-off to let go of their gambling exclusivity.
The Copper State allows for a total of 20 mobile sportsbook licenses, shared 50-50 amongst the state’s Native American tribes and professional sports venues. By the September 9th launch date, 18 of the 20 sportsbook licenses allowed had been approved and issued.
15 of the approved lot had disclosed that their mobile sportsbooks will be powered by WynnBET, Unibet, TwinSpires, SuperBook Sports, Rush Street Interactive, Golden Nugget, Fubo Gaming Inc., FanDuel Group, DraftKings Inc., Digital Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, BetMGM, Betfred Sport, Barstool Sportsbook and Ballys Corp.
Many of the mentioned operators, including WynnBET, BetMGM, FanDuel, and DraftKings, had already started signing up new members on their mobile apps on Wednesday. On the other hand, three tribal nations, the Arizona Coyotes, Tohono O’odham Nation, and the Navajo Nation, have still not disclosed the sportsbook brands they’ll team up with for sports betting operations.
South Dakota: Sports Betting Launch – Thursday, September 9th
Last Wednesday, the South Dakota Gaming Commission wrapped up the state’s sports betting framework, outlining the sports events that state residents were allowed to wager on. Come Thursday morning, legal sports betting was officially open.
South Dakota’s regulated sports wagering journey started last year on the November ballot when 58% of state residents voted for a sports betting constitutional amendment. Based on a report by Susan Christian, the Executive Secretary of the South Dakota Gaming, the proposed regulations for sports betting were finalized in August after Gov. Kristi Noem’s sign-off in late March.
Unlike all other US states with legal sports betting, the rules are unique in the Mount Rushmore states. State residents can only be allowed to place wagers on sporting events within the confines of Deadwood city in Lawrence County.
Sports betting will occur in existing casinos in the city, such as Tin Lizzie’s Gaming Resort, Gold Dust Casino & Hotel, Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, and Mustang Sally’s Casino. Additionally, all the casinos have partnered with sportsbook brands to offer online and mobile sports betting with geofencing technology to ensure that wagering only takes place within Deadwood city’s limits.
Washington State: Sports Betting Launch – Thursday, September 9th
Legal sports betting in the Evergreen State kicked off on Thursday at 11:00 a.m. in the retail sportsbook of Snoqualmie Casino’s, operated by the Snoqualmie Tribe. As Washington’s pioneer sportsbook opened its doors for the very first time, a long line of sports fans had queued to enjoy the privilege of sports betting from day one.
Shawn Kemp, a retired star of the Seattle Supersonics – the state’s home basketball team, placed the first sports bet in Washington State. He ushered sports betting for the state in style by placing a wager for the Seattle Seahawks NFL team to win their season opener match against the Indianapolis Colts.
Following the regulated sports betting debut, Rebecca George, the Executive Director of the Washington Gaming Association, said in a statement:
“Today’s commencement of sports betting at the Snoqualmie tribe’s casino marks an important milestone in the progress that Washington State’s tribes have made in regaining their self-reliance. The launch of sports betting is going to provide a real boost for tribal communities that are still working to recover from the tough impacts of COVID shutdowns. And the positive benefits will extend well beyond tribal communities themselves.”
The Snoqualmie Tribe’s new retail sportsbook replaced a slot machines room in the casino. It now features about 40 TV screens to watch various sporting events, along with lounge chairs and a bar. There are also some automated betting kiosks and a service counter to accept sports wagers.
Fifteen other Washington tribes are putting the finishing touches on the process of winning state and federal authorization. The Evergreen State is the only US state to offer sports betting that’s restricted to within the premises of tribal casinos.