Sports betting will be no home run for state budgets

The race to legalize sports betting is on now that the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed it in all 50 states, but will it provide enough extra tax revenue to make much of a difference for schools, roads or pension debt?

Don't bet on it.

Just look to the states that capitalized immediately after the court's ruling last spring and to Nevada, which previously had an effective monopoly on sports gambling. Even though the market is still developing, the returns to date have been modest.

In Nevada, revenue from sports betting has accounted for roughly one half of 1 percent of the entire state budget.

"Everything I've seen so far suggests that this would not be what one would consider to be a pot of gold," said Ohio state Sen. John Eklund, a Republican who introduced legislation to legalize sports betting in his state.

Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia legalized sports betting last year after the Supreme Court decision, as did the District of Columbia. Although New Mexico has not passed a sports betting law, the Santa Ana Star Casino & Hotel started taking bets in October through a tribal gambling compact.

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