Thanks to legal sports betting launches in ten new states, when the Cincinnati Bengals lined up against the Los Angeles Rams for Super Bowl LVI, 45 million more Americans were able to legally wager on the game in their home state compared to last year. An impressive 31.4 million Americans planned to wager on the big game.
The interest in the Super Bowl reflects the broad growth of the legal market with 30 states and Washington D.C. operational at the end of 2021. Leading the pack, New Jersey finished the year with an unprecedented run of four consecutive $1 billion handle months. Established markets in Illinois, Nevada, and Pennsylvania also experienced significant growth, while states like Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, and Virginia saw impressive launches.
With more than $57 million wagered nationwide in 2021, the demand for legal protections and convenience of the legal market has never been stronger. And there’s no signs of slowing down: the launch of legal mobile wagering proved worth the wait with New Yorkers wagering $1.6 billion. Louisiana soon followed and GeoComply data shows it off to a strong start with more per capita wagers than New York’s opening weekend.
This year will see the launch of sports betting markets in Ohio and Nebraska and Maryland is slated to get its mobile operation off the ground. Meanwhile, it’s wait and see in Florida as the Federal Courts decide whether the Seminole Tribe of Florida can move ahead with state-wide sports betting.
Legalization efforts in Georgia, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, and Vermont are under consideration, but it is far from certain that any of the bills on the table will be approved during the current legislative session. In California, legal sports betting won’t arrive until at least 2023 as voters consider measures—potentially up to four competing efforts—to provide mobile and retail wagering. While support from policymakers in Alabama, Kentucky, Minnesota, and Missouri appears to be growing, the momentum has not yet resulted in concrete legislative progress.
Campaigns to legalize sport betting are not the only battleground for the industry. As markets have matured, policymakers are starting to look at states with broader legalization and more conveniences—like expanding to mobile, removing limits on college betting, and eliminating in-person registration.
While an uphill battle, Nevada’s regulations, for example, still require in-person registration for mobile sportsbooks despite the industry seeing major revenue jumps in states when that stipulation has been removed. In states such as Mississippi, North Dakota, and North Carolina, the question remains if they will follow the leads of New York and Louisiana by adding online betting to an established retail market.
These issues may be slowing expansion and limiting the tax income for states, but the fact they are being discussed is a sign of the progress made in the short time since the invalidation of PASPA just four years ago. With a growing understanding of the economic benefits that legal sports betting can bring, and the evidence provided by the success of markets like New Jersey, it is almost certain that the next four years will bring even further progress for the industry.
Learn more about the state of legal sports betting using the American Gaming Association’s Interactive Map: Sports Betting in the U.S.
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