US sports betting flourishes four years after Supreme Court allowed states to legalise activity

One of the gaming industry's most dynamic and rapidly expanding markets marked its fourth year

More than $125 billion has been wagered on sporting events through legitimate betting sites in the four years following a US Supreme Court ruling making it possible for all 50 states to support such activity.

How we got here

One of the gaming industry's most dynamic and rapidly expanding markets marked its fourth year on Saturday 14 May 2022. On this day in 2018, the USA’s Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, paving the way for sports betting to be legalised on a state-by-state basis. Since then, sports betting has been allowed in 35 states and the District of Columbia, meaning that more than half of all American adults (130 million people) may now bet legally on sporting events without leaving their native state. 

Figures show that $125.4 billion has been wagered on sports, and that more than $1.3 billion in taxes from $8.8 billion in total sportsbook earnings have gone to state and municipal governments since May 2018. To put this into perspective, it is worth considering that this is greater than the combined net income of all farmers in the United States over the last year, and is more than what Americans spent on pet food, supplies and veterinary care combined. After just four years, the industry has become normalised for millions of Americans — from those who have begun placing legal bets on sports, to those who tune in to TV shows featuring result predictions and odds calculations.

The move to online

The term "iGaming" refers to any form of internet gambling, such as wagering on the results of a game or a live sporting event. Today, this age-old pastime is expressed through games including poker and blackjack, as well as through internet sportsbooks and casinos.

The expansion of the US online gaming market may be attributed to a number of different factors. Games are constantly developing and improving thanks to advances in technology, while improvements in visual and audio design are credited with attracting more customers. 

As a result of the pandemic, there was an increased interest in at-home leisure activities, and a growing number of US states considering the legalisation of sports betting as a means of making up for financial shortfalls. During this period, many companies moved their operations online, while the internet gambling sector in the United States saw rapid expansion.

The ramifications of blockchain technology add another layer to an already complex story. Blockchain technology makes it possible for online gambling to function without the need for a third party — such as an escrow service or corporation that handles wagers — by containing a transparent and immutable record that all participants in the transaction can access in order to validate information or a transaction.

A combination of these factors appears to have led to a significant move from traditional brick-and-mortar casinos and sportsbooks, to online alternatives.

Who is in the game?

Since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling overturning the federal prohibition on sports betting, individual states now have the option of legalising sports betting at their own discretion. As previously noted, at the time of writing approximately two-thirds of  US states have legalised some form of sports gambling, whether it be via mobile applications or in-person sportsbooks.

Sports betting is allowed and regulated in Washington DC and the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming.

Sports betting in North Carolina is confined to a few tribal casinos, while some Native American tribes in New Mexico have implemented sports betting programmes in accordance with a Class III gaming agreement. While licensed casinos in Mississippi may provide internet sports betting, it is not permitted at any other locations.

New laws are being passed and a wide range of measures are now being considered in legislatures around the nation, with states including Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, Ohio, Kansas and Massachusetts close to allowing sports betting.

It appears that the rising trend in the American online casino gaming and sports betting industry will continue to develop, especially when considering the benefits of greater security and an improved user experience, as well as the large tax revenues available at a state level. 

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