Here we are now, two years after the United States Supreme Court's landmark decision to make sports betting legalized at the jurisdiction of each individual state. Before all of the greatness came, there was plenty of skepticism of just how far this newly found obsession would go.
Since 2018, more than $20 billion has been wagered at U.S. sportsbooks. And it looked like things would turn out just fine – until the COVID-19 outbreak pandemic ran wild on the entire country.
Nonetheless, things are still working out for the best. There are now 18 states – just over 30 percent of the U.S. population – that have legalized sports betting. The District of Columbia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington have passed legislation while an additional 16 states have ongoing sports bills.
"I would have lost a lot of money if I was given a chance to wager on whether non-gaming states, like Tennessee, Virginia and New Hampshire would legalize mobile sports betting in these first two years," said Jeremy Kudon, a notable partner at the firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
Over the next few years, industry experts expect more than half of the United States to have legalized sports betting. It would behoove these up-and-coming states to make sure it has some type of online betting platform. After all, a state like New Jersey (which had a $4.6 billion worth of bets in 2019) had 84 percent of its bets come via the mobile platform.
It's also interesting to see FanDuel and DraftKings, both of which became giants in the daily fantasy sports sphere, morph into these legends already in sports betting. Now, they're becoming even bigger names than Caesars and MGM Resorts – casinos which have been well-established already for years.
Not Everyone Is Sold
As sports betting continues to grow across the country, of course, there will be naysayers.
"Research indicates that anytime we introduce a new form of gambling, we will simultaneously bring additional problems and concerns, thus requiring additional dollars," Brianne Doura, legislative director for the NCPG, told ESPN. "It is our stance that all stakeholders bear the responsibility to contribute to the research, prevention, treatment, and recovery of gambling addiction. If you profit from legalized gambling, you share the responsibility to pay for the negative consequences that can come from it."
Even though the worries are there, the potential of gain is just too much for some companies. Even professional sports leagues like the NFL and PGA Tour have partnerships with different sportsbooks, casinos or gambling information providers.
"I don't know if this is a specific trigger, but I would say that trajectory, even pre-COVID, had shown a level of willingness (from the sports leagues) to engage and at least understand what the industry is all about," Matt Primeaux, president of sportsbook operator FOX Bet, said. "I would expect that to continue."
At the end of the day, the foundation has been laid for an even more profitable future in sports betting. It's just a matter of time with getting things back to normal before we see it.
"When legislatures return in earnest, we firmly believe the number of states ready to consider accelerating mobile sports betting and online gaming legislation to drive tax revenue will expand substantially," said Matt King, CEO of FanDuel.
"And we also see the industry recognizing this is a unique moment in time, and working more collaboratively to set aside minor differences and get bills across the finish line. Across the board, it's a time for pragmatism, and we see that producing a real opportunity for significantly expanding the map."