In the five years since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed states to legalize sports betting to their liking, Americans have bet over $220 billion (and counting) on sports. Despite a few hiccups along the way, this new industry shows no signs of slowing down. At the moment, roughly two-thirds of states have some form of legal sports gambling available with several more on the way.
Even for those folks who have not given sports betting much consideration, it’s become impossible to ignore. In the USA, legal betting has been advertised to no end. Several prominent US sportsbooks have hit the airwaves hard with advertising, hoping to reel in new users. Many of those campaigns have involved famous athletes and celebrities, including Charles Barkley, the Manning brothers, Jamie Foxx, and countless others.
It all started with a Supreme Court decision in May 2018. The court case was 10 years in the making and aimed to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that limited betting on sports to just four states. Of course, several pro sports leagues fought the overturning of this law. However, those same sports leagues have spent the last five years steering into the skid, becoming partners with sportsbooks. Stadiums are now filled with advertisements for gambling companies with some even offering designated areas to place bets inside the stadium. Naturally, broadcasts now openly mention betting odds as part of their partnership with sportsbooks.
Of course, there have been both positives and negatives of legal sports betting. For instance, states are receiving additional tax revenue while bettors can now steer clear of nefarious and unregulated gambling sites. At the same time, hotlines for compulsive gamblers seeking help have seen their traffic increase significantly. Meanwhile, some NFL players have gotten into trouble and been suspended for betting on games.
As mentioned, Americans spent $220 billion on sports betting in the first five years after the Supreme Court made it legal. But it’s worth noting that the figure was only $125 billion after four years. That means the last year has seen $95 billion of the $220 billion spent by Americans. In other words, the numbers are likely to keep going up exponentially, especially with only two-thirds of states in the game and more projected to join.
Ironically, the sportsbooks are yet to reap massive profits as a result. Sportsbooks still have to pay out winning bets, so they only end up keeping around 10% of the money they take in via bets. FanDuel, a major player in the industry, was the first American sportsbook to report a quarterly profit, and that didn’t happen until the second quarter of 2022. According to the American Gaming Association, sportsbooks have only kept $17 billion of the $220 billion spent over the last five years. Meanwhile, state and local governments have taken in $3 billion in taxes with the federal government earning $570 million in tax revenue.
Outside of excessive advertising and athletes becoming involved in betting, the legalization of sports betting appears to be a smashing success for most parties. Tax revenue is being generated, sportsbooks are starting to become profitable, and bettors who aren’t seeking help for compulsive gambling seem to be enjoying themselves. As a bonus, advertising may start to decline, although the money Americans spend on sports betting figures to only increase in the years to come.