Legalized sports betting has come to a fourth state in the Midwest, thanks to bipartisan bills signed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in December. The package of legislation marks the culmination of years of work by lawmakers to change state policy on sports betting and internet gaming. The end result: Michigan residents will be able to wager on sports events (amateur and professional) and participate in online, casino-style gaming such as poker through the state’s commercial and tribal casinos.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a sweeping gambling expansion into law in May, legalizing sports betting at the state’s casinos and “racinos” (racetracks with casino games), as well as on mobile devices.
The state of gambling in the Midwest already varies considerably from one jurisdiction to the next.
Want to try your hand at a casino table game? You have no such chance on one side of the Iowa-Nebraska line, where the latter’s constitutional language prevents commercial casinos. Cross the Missouri River from Omaha into the Iowa town of Council Bluffs, though, and three casinos are only minutes away.
How about playing a table-style casino game while at a bar or other local establishment, via a “video gaming terminal”? In Illinois, more than 6,000 locations now have these terminals. For most other states in the region, this type of activity is nonexistent, or at least limited to charitable or tribal gaming.
These state-by-state differences in gambling are the result of a mix of constitutional language, politics and legislative decision-making. These same factors are likely to cause states in the Midwest to take varying approaches to intrastate sports betting. In May, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal law that had blocked this type of gambling activity, and a handful of states outside the region already have new laws in place.
In some Midwestern states, the odds seem pretty good that sports betting will be authorized (maybe as early as next year). In others, legalization appears much more of a long shot.