Opening the Door

The legalization of sports betting created enormous economic potential

It’s impossible to talk about the year ahead without acknowledging the momentous progress legal sports betting made in 2018. This time last year, single-game sports betting was legal only in Nevada, despite the presence of casino gaming in 40 states across the U.S.

When the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) last May, it didn’t just unlock new economic potential for the rest of the country—it opened the door for safe, regulated alternatives to a vast and thriving illegal sports betting market.

For a long time, the American public wanted to end the federal ban on sports betting, with a majority approving of legalized sports betting as far back as September 2017. Since then, the sentiment has only grown.

AGA’s recent research measuring Americans’ current attitudes on sports betting found that the overwhelming majority (63 percent) of Americans support the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the federal ban.

Further, nearly two-thirds (66 percent) of those surveyed believe that regulation and oversight of gaming should be left to state and sovereign tribal governments. These sentiments are telling, given the rapid spread of legal, regulated sports betting across the United States since May.

Since PASPA was overturned last year, one-fifth of the states have authorized sports betting, with states and sovereign tribal nations taking action to meet the demands of their residents to set up safe, legal, regulated sports betting markets. By the end of 2019, it is possible that more than half of states will have passed or considered sports betting legislation.

As state legislatures consider bills to legalize and regulate sports betting within their jurisdictions, AGA will continue to serve as an active voice, advocating for policies that establish reasonable tax levels, protect the consumer, enhance the integrity of competitions and wagers and enable the legal market to thrive.

Casey Clark is vice president of strategic communications for the American Gaming Association.