The Ruddock Report: The Clock Is Winding Down On 2024 Legalization Hopes

Steve Ruddock

Updated on:

Las Vegas Casino interior

Our monthly look at the online gambling landscape includes the current legal and regulatory scene, prospective online casino and online poker states, and the important trends to watch.

With the recent launch of mobile sports betting in North Carolina, the number of U.S. states with legal online wagering stands at 30. 

Contrast that with the number of states offering legal online casino games, which stands at just eight, and one of those states, Nevada, only offers online poker. 


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Good News, Bad News

As disheartening as the current online casino/poker situation is, there is some good news: Plenty of states are considering expanding online casinos.

The bad news is that the short-term outlook is bleak. There is only a slim possibility that the number of legal online casino states will change in 2024, which likely means no new launches until 2026 at the earliest.  

The stagnation is not due to a lack of effort. No less than 10 states introduced online casino/poker bills in 2023 and 2024. Still, only Rhode Island managed to legalize the activity in 2023, and most of the 2024 candidates have already thrown in the towel.

The Shrinking 2024 Candidate List

Maryland: The Maryland House of Delegates passed an online casino bill on March 16. The bill, HB 1319, faces a difficult path in the Senate, where the hope is the issue will make it into the budget debate. There are mixed reports coming out of the legislature.

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson is saying the chamber will be a “hard no” on online casinos. Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Watson is testing the waters to see if the chamber is willing to send the issue to the voters and hash out the actual details next session. If the ballot referendum is not passed this year, the state would have to wait until 2026. At least the issue made it into the conversation this week during the state’s Budget and Taxation Committee meeting.  

Maryland’s legislative session is set to end on April 8.

Maine: Maine’s online casino bill (LD 1777) is still active, but expectations remain dubious. The legislation, which mimics the state’s mobile sports betting law, squeaked through a committee vote on Feb. 29 by a 7-6 margin. The bill would allow the state’s four tribes to partner with online operators. It’s opposed by the state’s two commercial casinos, which are ineligible for online casino licenses under LD 1777. 

Maine’s legislative session is set to end on April 17. 

New York: The latest news from the Empire State is far from promising. Despite its supporters trying to stay optimistic, 2024 is effectively off the table. 

The biggest online casino cheerleader in the legislature, Sen. Joseph Addabbo Jr., has said that online casinos will not be included in the budget but could be considered at any point. The New York legislature will be in session until June and could return later for a special session. 

Looking Ahead to 2025 and Beyond

The map below provides the online casino legalization outlook for 2025-2030. 


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Candidate Spotlight: Indiana

Indiana: The top contender in 2023 and one of the top contenders going into 2024, online casino efforts have barely registered in the legislature. One of the unique-to-Indiana reasons for the state’s reluctance to consider online casinos was a bribery scandal involving a casino developer and a former lawmaker (detailed extremely well here). 

As Senate President Rodric Bray said late last year, the scandals make it difficult to consider gambling expansions.  

“It taints the Statehouse,” Bray said. “It diminishes the confidence that people have in the integrity of the Statehouse. It causes an awful lot of problems, and it makes it particularly difficult to engage in that kind of policy.”

Indiana is likely to avoid online casino talks until the stench is removed, which could take several years. 

My optimistic outlook for Indiana: 2026

The Best of the Rest

New Hampshire: New Hampshire emerged as a candidate last year when a bill passed the Senate before falling in the House. Any hope of a 2024 push was nipped in the bud when the bill was removed from consideration in late December 2023. 

My optimistic outlook for New Hampshire: 2025

Wyoming: Wyoming came out of nowhere in 2024, but its time as a possible legalization candidate was short, as the bill, HB 120, “failed introduction” just a week after it was introduced. The bill may come up during a standing committee discussion in the summer, which would greatly improve its chances in 2025. 

My optimistic outlook for Wyoming: 2025

Iowa: Iowa was among the first states to consider legalizing online poker back in the late aughts, and it reemerged as an online gambling contender in 2023. However, the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, told that the effort, HSB227, is in the “education” phase. 

My optimistic outlook for Iowa: 2026

Louisiana: Louisiana isn’t an official online casino candidate, but as I’ve reported in the Straight to the Point newsletter, it certainly ticks off a lot of the boxes, including declining land-based casino revenues and an impending budget shortfall in 2025-26.

My optimistic outlook for Louisiana: 2026

Illinois: Illinois is a perennial candidate, but the state has a very difficult obstacle to overcome: its booming VGT industry. Still, The Land of Lincoln is in the conversation, although State Rep. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. is calling The Internet Gaming Act, HB 2239, a “long-term project.”

My optimistic outlook for Illinois: 2027

North Carolina: Like Louisiana, North Carolina is another “looks good on paper” state. There hasn’t been a formal push for online casinos, but the legalization of online sports betting, plus continued talks of VGTs and commercial casinos, lands the Tar Heel State on my candidate list. 

My optimistic outlook for North Carolina: 2027

Two Trends to Watch

Trend No. 1: States Want More

Across the country, online gambling tax rates are on the rise. States considering online betting are asking for more money. States that have already legalized online betting are increasing the tax on mobile operators. And states exploring the legalization of online casinos are asking for increasingly exorbitant rates — evidenced by the Maryland bill’s 55% tax on all non-live dealer games. 

These burdens are likely to diminish industry support.

Trend No. 2: Cannibalization + Labor = Immovable Opposition

Twenty-five years ago, cannibalization fears were at their peak, and the casino industry was largely against the legalization of online casinos. That opposition has eroded over time, and even though the industry is mostly on the same page, pockets of resistance remain, and that resistance is enough to thwart legalization in most states. 

A new antagonist in the cannibalization debate further hinders online gambling: organized labor. While casinos have warmed to online gambling, labor’s opposition has grown and is now a major roadblock in New York and Maryland. 

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