The Midwest represents an interesting dichotomy for fans of gambling. Several states have stated they are not interested in legalizing sports gambling. There are no Midwestern states that currently have legalized sportsbooks. However, Midwesterners are huge sports fans. Football ranks very high in the Midwestern states, it is second only to the South in the number of viewers of the sport. In addition, basketball has an even larger viewership in the Midwestern states than in any other region of the country. There are representatives of Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska state government that want to legalize sportsbooks and get a jump on possible competition from neighboring states.
Gambling in Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa
Both Nebraska and Iowa have commercial casinos and Indian casinos as well. The casinos range in size from around 20,000 square feet to nearly 100,000 square feet. The states have small casinos, racinos, and casino resorts. Both states also have lotteries. Nebraska and Iowa have lotteries as well. State lotteries and multi-state lotteries are popular in both states. Bingo parlors are also popular. Kansas offers similar gambling options. Currently none of the states has legal sports or online gambling.
The Possible Legislation
Nebraska legislators, with an eye towards the future, want to look into the legalization of sports gambling. Nebraska and Iowa, as well as Kansas, have giant sports followings, especially in college sports. The sports fans have been advocating for the ability to gamble. The fantasy sports leagues in the Midwestern states have millions of subscribers.
Until May, the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue due to sports gambling was not a consideration. The Supreme Court ruled in May that the federal government could not decide for the states whether they had the right to have sports gambling. Since that time, several states have decided to legalize sports gambling. Nevada was the only state to have single sports betting until the May decision. Since May, New Jersey, Delaware, Rhode Island, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania have all legalized sports gambling. The early numbers from sportsbooks in the states where gambling was recently legalized shows that the states where gambling is legal has averaged in the range of tens of millions of dollars every month. According to experts, this is only the beginning. It is estimated that the illegal sports gambling market in the United States may be as high as $150 billion dollars a year.
Legislators in Nebraska plan to introduce legislation to legalize sports gambling this year. Iowa legislators also plan to bring up legislation for sports gambling at casinos during the legislative session. There are currently no plans to introduce legislation to legalize sports gambling in Kansas.
While many legislators seem to be behind the legislation in both Nebraska and Iowa, social welfare agencies have raised concerns about the possibility of sports gambling leading to addictive behavior. The agencies are concerned that problem gamblers could resort to criminal behavior in order to get money to gamble. Other social welfare agencies have expressed concerns that people who may gamble on sports are not people who can afford to be gambling at all. Instead of gambling for entertainment, they might be gambling to pay the rent or utilities, which could put them into debt.
However, there are advocates of gambling who say that instead of increasing the social welfare issues, the sports gambling legislation might help the agencies in the end. Some legislators have noted that if some of the proceeds from sports gambling would go to agencies to help problem gamblers find and receive treatment. The agencies would be able to offer more programs for gamblers statewide with additional funds.
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