Voters across the United States cast ballots on Tuesday to decide a variety of races for state-level and federal political offices.
U.S. midterm election odds chiefly deal with who will win and who will lose. However, voters also had opportunities on Tuesday to influence policy regarding potential retail sportsbooks and online sports betting sites in their states.
Some of those choices were more obvious than others, and the outlook going in for some sports betting-related races wasn't great. Moreover, as the results rolled in, the outcome was a bit of a mixed bag for the pro-wagering crowd.
Here's how legal sports betting fared on the ballot for the 2022 midterm elections.
The marquee event for observers of and participants in the legal sports betting industry was the ballot battle in California.
There, two propositions were put to voters that would have brought sports betting to the most populous state in the U.S. in two different ways. Neither, however, was polling favorably going into Tuesday’s elections, and both wound up being rejected by voters on Election Day.
As of around 8:00 a.m. E.T. on Wednesday, results showed that both Proposition 26 and Proposition 27 had been defeated. With 94.5% of precincts partially reporting, Prop 26 had been approved by 29.9% of voters, while Prop 27 had only 16.6% support, meaning both were well short of the 50% they needed.
Prop 26 aimed to bring in-person sports betting to racetracks and Native American casinos in California. Prop 27, meanwhile, would have permitted statewide online sports betting via tribes and licensed gambling companies.
Bookmakers such as BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel were the chief backers of Prop 27. Opposing them was a large coalition that included around half the federally-recognized tribes in the state, many of whom supported Prop 26 instead.
Supporters and opponents also pumped more than $400 million into sports betting-related efforts this election cycle, making the war over legal online wagering the costliest in California's electoral history.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott won another term on Tuesday, although this time around he may be more open to the idea of legal sports betting in the Lone Star State.
Texas remains a notable holdout amidst the steady spread of event wagering in the U.S. However, both Abbott and his Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke suggested they may be interested in changing that in their responses to a candidate questionnaire posed by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"We don’t want slot machines at every corner store, we don’t want Texans to be losing money that they need for everyday expenses, and we don’t want any type of crime that could be associated with gaming," the incumbent governor told the newspaper. "But, if there is a way to create a professional entertainment option for Texans, I’d take a look at it in the coming legislative sessions."
O’Rourke had been even more direct, saying he was “open to exploring the idea of legalizing and closely regulating sports betting, as two-thirds of U.S. states have done.”
In the Peach State, the Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams, backed a plan to legalize and tax online sports betting. Doing so, Abrams argued, could help provide funding for (mostly higher) education in Georgia.
But Abrams consistently trailed Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in the polls. For his part, Kemp tried to remain neutral in the sports-betting discussion, although he opposed it in the past.
In the end, Kemp was again returned to office, putting a damper on hopes for legal wagering in Georgia.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes took another run at legalizing sports betting this past year, but the effort stalled as it approached the finish line.
The good news for those hoping something gets passed in 2023, though, is that the state's chief executive will remain a friendly face.
Democratic Gov. Tim Walz was reelected on Tuesday after saying during an October debate that he would support a sports-betting bill from the legislature, though he would not necessarily push for legislation himself.
"But I think we need a framework to make sure that it's done right, a framework inside our already existing gambling revenues and gaming revenues in Minnesota," Walz said. "The one thing is the revenues from sports gaming are relatively small compared to some of the other things we do, but yes, I would certainly support us doing it right. But I also know that we need to manage that from the state level."
The Palmetto State reelected Republican Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday, shunning his opponent, who was in favor of legal sports betting in the state.
Democratic candidate for governor Joe Cunningham had proposed to legalize sports betting, saying it was already happening in South Carolina and that the state should regulate and generate tax revenue from that activity. He also argued it would help the state economy, giving the government money to help increase teacher pay and fix its roads.
“It’s time that South Carolina joined other states across the country to legalize and decriminalize marijuana and legalize sports betting,” Cunningham’s website says. “If you want to place a bet on a college football game, you should have that freedom.”
McMaster, though, was not a fan of sports betting on the campaign trail, which bodes ill for any future legalization.
"That's gambling,” he reportedly said during the sole debate. “A lot of people (are) opposed to it and recreational marijuana; those are not the answers to the problems in South Carolina.”
Vermonters returned a supporter of legal sports betting to the governor's residence on Tuesday, as Republican Phil Scott cruised to reelection.
Scott said in June 2021 that he's been proposing Vermont legalize and regulate sports betting "for years," as thousands of residents are already wagering. He's taken a few steps to that end as well, such as signing a bill that required a report on the regulated sports betting market in the U.S.
Another piece of legislation Scott signed was S.11, which created a committee to study the potential legalization of sports betting in Vermont. That committee is currently active, and its members are recommending that the state launch an online-only model of event wagering to start.
Vermont is the only New England state that has not legalized sports betting. It is also one of just 14 U.S. states that have not taken the plunge.