Sports gambling in the US has come a long way since May 2018. That was when the Supreme Court, based on arguments led primarily by New Jersey, agreed that previous legislation preventing states from creating their own sports gambling markets was invalid. That legislation was PASPA, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, and there was immediate interest by a number of states to launch legal, regulated sports gambling as soon as the court’s verdict was handed down. Adam Bjorn, a gaming industry executive and expert in sports gambling, discusses what has happened in the US since PASPA was overturned, and where things are headed.
In the past two and a half years, over 22 states have already launched legalized sports gambling. Several more are now working on the final touches of their respective frameworks since voters agreed to allow the activity in this year’s November elections. Within two years, as many as 40 states, and possibly even more, could have their own regulated sports gambling markets, and some of these will ultimately be working in tandem to hold interstate contests, tournaments and fantasy pools.
Coming soon, Louisiana, Maryland, South Dakota and, possibly, Nebraska will be added to the growing list of states where sports gambling has been accepted. Explains Bjorn, “These four states saw voters show substantial support for sports gambling this past November. In the case of Nebraska, the state’s voters agreed to general gambling expansion, which many have interpreted to mean that sportsbooks will be included. However, of these four, only Maryland could potentially have a sports gambling market active within the next year.”
Of those states that already offer sports gambling, the revenue being generated is staggering. This past August, it has been reported that the aggregate total for all states was $2.1 billion. This was just prior to the beginning of the 2020 NFL and college football seasons and at a time when COVID-19 was forcing many sporting activities to be put on hold. As it now appears that most sports will be able to move forward without much interference, these revenue figures are expected to grow exponentially.
Nevada was always the leader in sports gambling revenue since it was the only state to offer the activity. However, Colorado, Pennsylvania and Indiana, since launching their sports gambling markets, are threatening to take over that dominance. New Jersey has already encroached significantly on the revenue numbers seen out of Nevada, but many analysts believe that Colorado could take over once its nascent market finds more participation.
Says Bjorn, “As of this month, Nevada’s sports gambling handle has reached just over $10 billion, while New Jersey has taken in $9.91 billion. Nevada has had sports gambling the longest, with New Jersey coming in right after the Supreme Court reversed PASPA. However, Colorado, which only legalized sports gambling about six months ago, has already taken in more than $600 million. Indiana and Pennsylvania have also seen phenomenal growth in their markets since they went live and are now in the billion-dollar range, as well.”
All of the states that have legalized, or will legalize, sports gambling are creating a large regulated market in the US that is driving attention to all sports gambling operators everywhere. Those that have primarily lived offshore while targeting US customers are now looking for ways to enter the US legal market, which is going to prove highly beneficial for consumers in the long run. This will facilitate greater expansion of regulated markets available to gamblers, which will boost consumer confidence and attract even more growth. Sports gambling innovation has already advanced considerably in the past two years, and the next five to ten years will see even more significant improvements and offerings.