The Daily Brew: 25 states have legalized sports betting

Welcome to the Friday, Feb. 5, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look at the current sports betting landscape
  2. Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022
  3. Today’s the last day to send a snail-mail Ballotpedia Valentine and pin
  4. What’s the Tea?

A look at the current sports betting landscape

The American Gaming Association released a study on Feb. 2 that projected that 23.2 million Americans will wager an estimated $4.3 billion on the Super Bowl this year. This includes people who will bet with friends, through an online or in-person sportsbook, or in a pool or similar contest.

Nevada enacted laws permitting gambling on sporting events in 1949, and it was the only state where legal sports wagering was allowed until 2018. 

New Jersey voters approved a 2011 constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to legalize sports betting, and the state enacted such a law in 2012. However, four professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit to block the New Jersey law, arguing that it violated the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), a 1992 federal law that prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling. 

A federal district court and the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld PASPA, preventing New Jersey from offering legal sports betting. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed those decisions in May 2018, ruling in Murphy v. NCAA (originally Christie v. NCAA) that PASPA was unconstitutional.

Twenty-five states and Washington, D.C., have legalized sports betting either through statute or ballot measure, as shown in the map below. Based on 2019 census estimates, 146.4 million people—or 44.5% of the country—live in states where sports betting is legal. These 25 states currently are 11 Democratic state government trifectas, nine Republican trifectas, and six states with divided government. In some states, sports betting is only permitted in certain jurisdictions or venues. 

Proponents of a California measure that would legalize sports betting at American Indian gaming casinos and licensed racetracks reported submitting about 1.4 million signatures in December. If enough signatures are deemed valid, voters will decide that measure in November 2022.

Last year, South Dakota voters approved a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on Nov. 3 legalizing sports betting within the city limits of Deadwood, South Dakota. Maryland voters also approved a legislatively-referred statute authorizing sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities. 

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Kansas voters to decide abortion-related constitutional amendment in 2022 

Kansas voters will decide a measure in 2022 that would add language to the state constitution stating that “the constitution of the state of Kansas does not require government funding of abortion and does not create or secure a right to abortion.” The amendment would also state that “the people, through their elected state representatives and state senators, may pass laws regarding abortion.” The measure will go before voters at the state’s primary election on Aug. 2, 2022.

The amendment is a response to a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court ruling that held the state’s Bill of Rights does include a right to abortion. If voters approve the amendment, courts will be prevented from ruling the state constitution includes a right to abortion.

The Kansas state House passed the amendment 86 to 38 on Jan. 22. All House Republicans voted in favor of the amendment, and all Democrats voted against it (one was absent). One independent member also voted against the amendment. The state Senate approved the measure 28-11 on Jan. 28. All Republican members voted for the amendment, and all Democratic members voted against it.

Constitutional amendments in Kansas are put on the ballot if two-thirds of each chamber of the legislature approves it. Amendments do not require the governor’s signature, nor can a governor veto a proposed amendment. Kansas is one of 40 states that allow the legislature to place amendments before voters after just one legislative session, depending on whether the amendment receives a simple majority or supermajority. From 1995 through 2020, the Kansas Legislature referred ten constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved eight and rejected two.

Four states have adopted constitutional amendments declaring that their constitutions do not secure or protect a right to abortion or require the state to fund abortion. Tennessee was the first state to pass such an amendment in 2014. Alabama and West Virginia passed similar amendments in 2018. Louisiana voters did likewise last year. Court rulings in at least 10 states, including Kansas, have affirmed a state constitutional right to an abortion.

The following map shows the states where courts have ruled that a right to abortion exists under the state constitution and states with constitutional amendments stating that no such right exists:

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What’s the Tea?

Super Bowl LV takes place this Sunday—Feb. 7—between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Tampa, Florida. What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s event?

  1. The game
  2. The commercials
  3. The halftime show
  4. Wait, the Super Bowl is this weekend?