One year ago, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Murphy v. NCAA and changed sports betting in America as we know it. The court opened the door for states and tribal nations to establish transparent, well-regulated markets for legal sports betting after nearly 30 years of a failed federal ban, which only perpetuated the dangerous illegal market. As new legal markets continue to expand and mature, all of us must keep the lines of communication open, share best practices and commit to fostering gaming environments that are as safe and responsible as they are innovative and fun.
Legalized sports betting in post-PASPA America is off to a strong start. Since May 2018, well over half the country has succeeded in legalizing sports betting. Eight states now operate legal sports betting markets, providing their consumers with the opportunity to wager in a safe market; five additional jurisdictions have legalized sports betting and plan to be operational by football season; and a handful of bills are awaiting governors’ signatures. Furthermore, 35 private partnerships have been formed between sports leagues, teams and gaming companies.
We have already seen promising results from new legal markets—like in January, when the total amount legally wagered in new markets exceeded Nevada’s handle. Or in March, when the total amount wagered legally on sports surpassed the billion-dollar mark for the first time. In total, since last May, nearly $3 billion has been wagered outside the well-established Nevada market, proof of the tremendous appetite for legal markets. This increased demand for legal sports betting can even be seen in Nevada, where sports books brought in $5 billion in 2018—an all-time high.
As these numbers continue to grow, so does the positive economic impact of sports betting. Since PASPA was overturned, more than $55 million has been generated in state and local tax revenue. If other jurisdictions wish to set their new markets up for success, they must include sensible tax rates, strong consumer protections and provisions that put responsible gaming at the forefront—all pillars of the American Gaming Association’s priorities for successful sports betting markets.
This resounding success should also make it clear that we need to remain committed to educating the public on the availability of legal opportunities to wager on sporting events. From our research at AGA, “Current and Future Sports Betting Behavior Post-PASPA,” we learned that 100 million American adults are current or potential sports bettors, and that eight in 10 adults are supportive of legal sports betting in their state. But there is a knowledge gap to address—only 56 percent of people in states with legal sports betting are aware of it. AGA is working to make the awareness of these new legal markets just as mainstream.
The unified opposition to PASPA aligned historically diverse voices from outside and within the casino gaming industry, including stakeholders from across the world of sports, government and law enforcement. Stamping out illegal and unregulated sports betting is achievable, but will require similar cross-sector collaboration within a rigorous regulatory framework.
If we continue to promote and uphold smart policies, work collaboratively and put consumers first, imagine how much farther legal sports betting could take us.