The sports betting industry is thriving in the United States and there are now plenty of options for both in-person and online betting, however this has not always been the case. Gambling has a long and complex history in the country and until fairly recently some types of gambling, including sports betting, were prohibited in many states.
As legalization continues to be updated by the government, this market is growing and developing at a fast pace. Here we take a brief look at the history of this industry and outline how legalization and regulation is enabling its growth:
History of sports betting in the United States
In 1949 the state of Nevada was the first to legalize sports betting. It was seen as a post-war opportunity to boost Las Vegas’ tourism industry and encouraged punters to visit the strip’s casinos to place their bets on upcoming games.
In the early years, a government imposed high tax rate of 10 percent hindered the industry, this was then amended to two percent in 1974 and sports betting saw a huge boom in popularity and profitability. Sports betting and gambling wasn’t legalized in other states in the 50’s and 60’s but there was a large, growing market that the government attempted to control through The Federal Wire Act (1961).
A number of different laws were introduced after this, including the Interstate Transportation of Paraphernalia Act (1961) that prohibited the transportation of gambling materials and the the Illegal Gambling and Business Act (1970) that was aimed at larger operations.
In 1976, a referendum was won in New Jersey that allowed forms of gambling such as betting to take place within Atlantic City.
As the demand for sports wagering grew in some states, the government introduced a new tougher ruling in 1992 known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), which prevented states from introducing any new legalization that would legalize betting.
However, PASPA did include a grandfather clause that allowed states that already legally had sports betting operations to continue. These states included Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana, and while New Jersey was also given a window of time to pass its law on sports betting it did not pass the ballot.
With a number of states still allowing punters to wage on sports, the betting industry continued to grow and places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City thrived as tourist destinations.
As technology evolved to make gambling and betting online easier, many US residents turned to the internet to wager on sports and enjoyed using international sportsbooks. In 2006, the government introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which significantly reduced the amount of offshore sportsbook operators that would serve US customers.
Recent changes to betting legislation have had a huge impact on the industry…
Within the last three years, there have been huge changes in the industry and online and in-person sports betting has become accessible to more US residents than ever before. This was sparked by the 2018 legislation that gave all states the power to legalize sports betting.
The 2018 ruling pushed aside the PASPA and after the US Supreme Court ruled that sports betting in New Jersey could be legalized, a number of other states followed suit and changed their own regulations. Betting has now been legalized in a number of new states, including Colorado, Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Dakota.
At least 20 states have introduced sports betting and many others are in the process of doing so. It has been estimated that within the next few years, at least 80 percent of states in the US will allow some sort of sports betting operation within their borders.
As this roll out continues, it is unsurprising that the industry is growing and developing rapidly. Last year, sports betting revenue increased by over 50 percent nationwide and in one month almost three billion US dollars was bet on sports across the country.
Online betting makes up a significant portion of sports wagering revenue. Betting online is often more convenient for punters and usually gives them a much bigger variety of choice in sportsbooks. As legalization has changed in the United States, more offshore sports betting operators are able to offer their services to US residents.
Bettors can wager on US sporting events such as the NFL or on international games such as the Premier League football.
In 2019, the online sports betting market in the country was worth around $2576 million US dollars. This is now expected to grow to a huge $5857 million dollars by the year 2026. Globally, the online betting market size will reach $58964 million dollars in 2026.
Sports betting has come a very long way in the last few decades. While the past punters would have to travel to destinations such as Vegas on the Atlantic City for the occasion, they can now easily place bets on upcoming games from the comfort of their own sofa.