The Evolution of Sports Betting

The Evolution of Sports Betting


The love of athletics is one of the most widespread and well-liked pastimes among Americans.

Almost every home supports a team, whether it be professional or collegiate. Major athletic events like the Super Bowl are watched by millions of people every year and are celebrated like national holidays. But it appears that the emphasis has switched recently.

The idea of sports betting, a contentious topic that has exceeded economic expectations recently, was brought about by the popularity of sports.

The Supreme Court of the United States allowed sports betting in 2018. A 1992 federal legislation that prohibited commercial sports betting in the majority of states was overturned by the Supreme Court, allowing access to the estimated $150 billion in illicit bets on professional and amateur sports.

This significantly increased state investment in sports gambling overall and had an impact on many aspects of professional sports.


The Evolution of Sports Betting as a Legal

Early 19th-century sports wagering was mostly on horse racing; there was no such thing as a spread, and visiting a Las Vegas casino was necessary to place a legitimate wager.

But in recent years, wagering on sports has expanded to include baseball, football, and basketball.

And as sports betting became federally legalized, states gradually got more involved in this highly lucrative sector, eventually teaming up with their regional statewide casinos to support these state-owned bookmakers.

Legalizing sports betting had such a significant effect that the amount wagered actually doubled in just one year, reaching an all-time high of $52.7 billion in 2021.

Although many others participate in illicit sports gambling books, this money is registered and legal, so theoretically the total is much bigger.

Given the size of the stakes, what areas of the sports industry are being affected, who stands to gain from this new betting landscape, and who will inevitably lose out?


The rise of sports betting

2018 May 14: The U.S. The Supreme Court ruled that the federal ban on sports gambling should be lifted, allowing each state to authorize this activity, which has been prohibited since the early 1960s.

As the market for sports betting was clearly expanding and the economic benefits of the government getting involved were too great to resist, this decision was eagerly expected.

The first few states to pass legislation approving the legalization were Delaware, New Jersey, and Montana as states rushed to do so.

The capacity to manage the taxes it comes with it was a key factor in states legalizing sports betting. In the first month after sports betting became allowed in New York, $1.5 billion was wagered and more than $70 million in taxes were collected over a single 30-day period.

The head of sports betting content at SB Nation, David Fucillo, analyzes the financial effects in some of the initial states.


“New Jersey has led the way with $25.1 billion in revenue. Nevada is second at $22.6 billion, and Pennsylvania follows with $13 billion,” he said.


The legalization also allows for further control of the betting, and the money that each state is able to tax on provides for projects like education, public works, or youth sports to gain a big budget rise.

The estimated annual loss from illegal sports betting is close to $150 billion, which is a sizable portion of the total expected wagering over the course of a year.

States may now monitor and regulate wagering quantities, giving them the ability to tax the money and helping the economy.

The development of online sports books has made it possible for fans to wager and gamble from their own personal computers at home, through registered websites with partner casinos like Draftkings or Fanduel, along with the legality of sports betting.


“All sportsbooks are looking to add customers as quickly as possible. DraftKings and FanDuel have spent a ton of money for customer acquisition as they open in new states, and also to prepare themselves for when states like California and Texas eventually go online,” says Fucillo.


The significance of this is that it eliminates the need for customers to travel to their neighborhood casino in order to place sports wagers. Instead, they can do it quickly and easily online using a laptop or even a mobile device.

In 2020, Draftkings reported $644 million in income from their online sports books, an increase of almost 50% from the previous year.

The accessibility of online betting appeals to many players, and revenue figures demonstrate that popularity has consistently grown as online betting has gained prominence.


“We know people gamble, but when it was illegal, nobody was going to be able to get an accurate gauge on who did what and how to potentially convert users.” Fucillo explains.


It’s hardly unexpected that major sports networks like ESPN have developed their own segments on betting given the fact that many fans find the idea to be interesting.

In the early afternoon, ESPN airs a segment called “Chalk” where they discuss their top picks for the spread, trends, and the game that night.

It’s a relatively new program that has gained appeal with the gambling audience, giving the network’s viewership ratings an almost 30% boost. The major sports networks, like the states, want a piece of the sports betting fever and show signs of expanding their gambling portions as the popularity grows as well.


“The market will continue to grow with the three biggest states in America (in terms of populatio) still not online. It will take some time, but we should eventually see California, Texas, and Florida legalize sports betting in some form. Beyond that, the biggest growth will be through in-game wagering” says Fucillo.


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