Four US States Have Gambling Measures On Their 2020 Ballots

2020 election buttons in a pile

If you live in the United States and regularly gamble online, most of that gaming naturally takes place at legal international betting sites.

However, with the 2018 PASPA overturn, there has been plenty of – ahem – action in various state legislatures to pass new sports betting laws. To date, roughly 20 US states have already done so.

In addition, a few states are considering either legalizing or expanding casino gambling within their borders, and some are even debating the legalization of mobile casino gaming.

However, this latter group of states is much smaller than that looking to get on the sports betting bandwagon, which means that online casino games are – for most US residents – going to be limited to legal offshore gambling sites for the foreseeable future.

Nevertheless, even if your state isn’t flirting with the idea of bringing bettors and casino players back into the domestic fold – and even if you’re perfectly happy to keep playing with the international sites you’re already used to – it’s a good idea to keep track of the domestic gambling industry.

To that end, several states have tabled various gambling-related measures put forward in their 2020 congressional sessions and may or may not revisit them in 2021.

However, four states actually have significant gambling-related ballot measures that will be voted on by their residents in the 2020 general election in just four days’ time:

  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Nebraska
  • South Dakota

Two states are putting forth the possibility of expanded casino gaming, and two are putting forth sports betting propositions. With that in mind, we’ll break down everything on the docket for each state so you can see exactly what’s what.

2020 Colorado Gambling Ballot Measures

Colorado has two gambling items on the ballot: Amendment 77 and Amendment C.

Amendment 77 is a proposal that would allow voters living in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to decide on whether or not the existing gaming venues in those regions will be allowed to offer more casino game types than they currently do. Right now, only slots, blackjack, roulette, craps, and poker are available.

Additionally, the amendment would allow the establishment of maximum single bet limits on any offered casino amusements.

Colorado’s Amendment C has to do with charitable gaming enterprises. If passed, this amendment would reduce the number of years a charitable organization must be in operation before being allowed to host such gambling activities.

The current standard is five years, which would be reduced to three years.

The amendment would also empower these venues to employ gaming operators and attendants as long as they earn no more than the state minimum wage.

Neither measure will establish domestic online casino gambling in Colorado, and any movement in that direction is likely a long way off. In the meantime, as ever, CO residents are free to legally gamble online provided they use a reputable offshore operator.

2020 Maryland Gambling Ballot Measures

Maryland Question 2 is the only gambling-related ballot measure in the state this year. Also called the “Sports Betting Expansion Measure,” this proposal would legalize brick-and-mortar sports betting at “certain licensed facilities.”

The measure is nebulous, and it would not install a set of regulations at the time of its public approval. Instead, this will simply allow the state to begin crafting the regulatory framework for sports betting, which may or may not include an online option.

If Question 2 passes, MD residents should not expect to see the launch of domestic sportsbooks until mid- to late-2021 at the earliest. Almost certainly, the target for implementation would be the start of the 2021 NFL season.

Of course, even if Question 2 is rejected at the polls, those living in Maryland are free to wager at legal online sportsbooks operating outside of US jurisdiction.

2020 Nebraska Gambling Ballot Measures

Nebraska’s 2020 ballot features three gambling proposals: Initiative 429, Initiative 430, and Initiative 431. Each of these has to do with the legalization of gambling at the state’s racetracks.

Nebraska Initiative 429, also called the “Authorize Laws for Gambling at Racetracks,” would amend the state constitution to allow for the state to craft a rubric to approve, regulate, and tax retail casino gaming at the state’s racing venues.

Nebraska Initiative 430, aka the “Authorizing Gambling at Racetracks Initiative,” would establish the Nebraska Gaming Commission to oversee compliance with racetrack-based gambling in the state.

Finally, Nebraska Initiative 431 – the “Tax on Gambling at Racetracks Initiative” – would allow voters to approve the current racetrack gambling tax scheme.

These gambling taxes constitute a 20% annual tax on GGR (gross gaming revenue), which would be disbursed to several different state funds. The Property Tax Credit Cash Fund would get the lion’s share at 70% of the total tax haul.

Nothing in the NE Initiatives would allow for legalized domestic online gambling, which means that state residents will have to continue using overseas solutions to legally gamble over the Internet.

2020 South Dakota Gambling Ballot Measures

South Dakota Amendment B, known as the “Deadwood Sports Betting Legalization Amendment,” would alter the state code to allow retail properties in the tourist town of Deadwood to accept sports wagers.

All sports betting tax revenues collected would be earmarked exclusively for the Deadwood Historic Restoration and Preservation Fund.

If Amendment B passes, SD sportsbooks would be confined only to the Deadwood city limits, and there is no online component that would allow bettors elsewhere in the state to place wagers remotely.

As you can see, none of these constitutional proposals on the ballots in any of the four states above would legalize or authorize online casino gambling or online sports betting for residents in their respective states.

On the other hand, and more importantly, nothing in these potential laws would serve to criminalize offshore gambling for United States players in those regions.

This means that you can continue playing real-money casino games, betting on sports and horses, and participating in real-money online poker tournaments through these international sites without breaking any laws whatsoever.

So get out there and vote, and then get out there and get your game on!