In 2018, a Supreme Court decision transformed the US gambling industry and paved the way for the expansion of legal sports wagering across the country. The repeal of PASPA lifted the ban on sports betting and allowed US states to individually regulate such activities. Many states have already taken advantage of the opportunity. Sports betting is now legal in 25 states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Colorado, Iowa, Tennessee, Virginia, Michigan, and Illinois, among others.
The coronavirus pandemic was but a minor obstacle in the path of the US sports betting industry. Land-based sportsbooks suffered a blow by the resulting lockdowns similarly to the tourism and auto industries. But things are not always black and white. Mobile and online wagering in the US truly took off.
As mentioned on this ESPN report, virtual betting became the go-to option for many US punters. Before the pandemic, the digital sector was responsible for around 13% of the overall profits of the industry. The pandemic-associated lockdowns narrowed this gap by 7% as of November 2020, when the online segment accounted for approximately 20% of the overall gambling revenue. There are several drivers behind the US bookmaking industry’s growth, including further expansion, the progress in technologies, and the popularization of professional sports.
What Can US Punters Legally Bet on?
Since each state now has the leeway to set its own regulations, the legislative frameworks differ from place to place. Regulated bookmakers accept action on team-based professional sporting events as well as on big individual contests, alongside a variety of secondary sports.
Nevertheless, the availability of legal options is still state-specific. One major point of difference has to do with college sports, and more specifically, whether or not punters can bet on them. Some states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey permit wagering on college basketball and football games.
Others expressly forbid betting on in-state college teams and amateur matches that take place within the respective state. One thing many US-regulated sportsbooks have in common is that they refrain from accepting action on non-sports events according to sportsbettingday. It is impossible to bet on the weather or the outcomes of reality shows or political elections.
Bets on Politics May Become Legal in Time for the 2028 Elections
The reason for these restrictions is simple – legal US sportsbooks are prohibited by law from taking action on such events and that is all there is to it. With that said, there is a decent chance things could change in the future. Matt Cosgriff, who heads the Retail Wagering and Customer Analysis department at BetMGM, is confident US punters will be able to bet on political events just in time for the 2028 election.
Mr. Cosgriff believes regulations in this regard will alter as acceptance grows and sports wagering becomes more mainstream. Another key factor that may contribute to the change in regulations has to do with unauthorized offshore sportsbooks. Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that punters worldwide threw down over US$1 billion on the 2020 US presidential election.
The sum is twice as large as what people wagered globally on the 2016 elections. One Brit went as far as staking the eye-watering amount of US$5 million on Donald Trump in 2020. We guess this did not work well for him, did it? State lawmakers may decide to prevent the outflow of tax money to illegal offshore bookies and direct the action to legal sportsbooks by lifting the restrictions on political bets.
What’s In Store for the US Betting Industry in the Future?
Forecasts by market and consumer portal Statista show some stats that indicate the sector’s revenue will reach US$1.5 billion across the land-based segment and a staggering US$5 billion across the online segment by 2025. The industry has gained breakneck momentum and shows no signs of slowing down. New Jersey bookies alone generated over US$2.5 billion in sports betting during the first quarter of 2021.
While it is impossible to say with certainty what will happen in the future, experts can make informed predictions about the trends the industry is likely to witness. This year, legal sportsbooks are expected to spread like wildfire to reach sporting fans from 27 states. Louisiana, Maryland, and South Dakota all said a resounding “yes” to legal wagering in November 2020.
Florida is likely to become the newest addition on the US map of legal sports betting. The Sunshine State’s Governor DeSantis is on the verge of signing a compact agreement with the Seminoles. The deal will enable the tribe and pari-mutuel operators to accept betting action on sports events.