For a very long time, America stood firm in its decision to outlaw sports gambling. The worry for many years was that sports gambling would bring about the rise of corruption in sports. Sports corruption has always taken many forms, but one of the most common is match-fixing, which takes place when players or officials intentionally change the outcome of a sporting event in a manner that benefits those that had bet money on the fixed matches.
It is these concerns regarding match-fixing, among other practices that prompted the Congress to ordain the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in 1992. The act effectively prohibited states from legalizing sports wagering. The only state permitted to allow sports gambling was Nevada, which was only permitted to offer wagering on single games.
Despite the PASPA, wagering on sports was still taking place but on the black market. It is estimated that Americans would gamble a projected $150 billion to $400 billion in illegal sports betting.
Tides started changing in December 2017 when the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) that led to the landmark decision that saw sports betting expand to other states beyond Nevada. This court ruling in favor of the Garden State created a whole new revenue source not just for casinos but also for the states themselves.
This 2018 Supreme Court ruling meritoriously brought a multibillion-dollar industry out of the murky shadows and exposed it. This helped to bring integrity to the sports gambling sphere, thus guaranteeing punters, consumers, investors, and operators alike enhanced security. The increased transparency is what has enabled more states around the country to accept legal sports betting.
How many states have embraced legalized sports betting so far?
Over the last year, the number of legal online sportsbooks, as well as brick and mortar casinos have increased dramatically in the country. Countless Americans can now wager in safe, legal sports betting options.
Las Vegas may have been the capital of sports betting in the country, but it has long been overtaken by states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In particular, New Jersey sports wagering has been on an upward trend since it came out victorious in the 2018 Supreme Court case.
Whilst numerous businesses including land-based casinos were impacted negatively by the coronavirus pandemic, the New Jersey online gambling industry, particularly online casinos, managed to register record figures compared to last year when the industry was still in its infancy.
This upward trend in New Jersey gaming has continued in the following months. It is expected that New Jersey will record even higher numbers as live sports quickly continue to infiltrate TV our screens. Online sports betting has been largely responsible for this remarkable growth since online casino betting was legalized in 2013.
6 years later, it is evident that legalizing online gaming was a win across the board, especially in New Jersey. Not only does online gaming continue to boost revenue at an outstanding pace, but they have also built an interdependent relationship with online sports betting. As a result, online sportsbooks and casinos are helping to fuel one another’s growth and it has been remarkable to watch.
Today, 20 states have permitted some form of legal sports betting since the PAPSA was struck down by the courts. Some of the states that enjoy legal sports betting today include:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
Some other states are also hoping to legalize sports betting. Many have made progress while others are merely being held back as a result of disagreements between different stakeholders, existing casinos, tribal casinos, vendors, sports leagues, lawmakers, as well as some sportsbook operators.
Among the states that are kicking around the idea of legalizing sports betting of some kind in the next couple of years include”
California wants to legalize sports betting. However, it is primarily being held back by the showdown between tribal casinos and card rooms, each of which is battling for exclusivity. California lawmakers predict that the sports betting industry could grow to produce over $500 million per year so the parties involved must do their best to broker a compromise.
Lawmakers in Connecticut have introduced several bills but the tribes that operate Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resorts, as well as other stakeholders, continue to disagree over exclusivity, the location for a new casino, and who will be selected to offer sports betting and iGaming.
Illinois is the latest state to allow for online sports betting to be fully legalized. In August, more than $62 million in bets were recorded online.
Ohio House of Representatives passed a bill in late May 2020 to legalize sports betting in the state.
Maine came close to legalizing sports betting but the Bill was vetoed by the Governor.
Lawmakers in Massachusetts lawmakers were showing promise and were actually making progress. However, sports betting was delayed thereby extinguishing the state’s hopes of becoming the newest state to legalize sports betting. This was sad news as Massachusetts is home to some of the biggest sporting franchises in the country. If legalized, the state can expect as much as $35 million in annual tax revenue generated solely from legalized sports betting.
Missouri has also held lots of discussions regarding the issue but hasn’t managed to reach an agreement.
Kansas lawmakers have already introduced a bill and hope to have sportsbooks on board soon.
Louisiana is slated to hold a ballot referendum in November 2020 that will determine whether sports betting will be legalized or not.
The present and future of the sports betting market in America has been shaped by consumers, as well as the many stakeholders, players, and athletes that allow the gears of the sports industry to turn. As more and more states continue to embrace online sports betting, the industry is expected to grow in leaps and bounds.
States that want to get in on this action must do their best to iron out the issues that are preventing them from legalizing sports wagering. Otherwise, they risk missing out on a multi-billion-dollar industry.