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Legalized Sports Gambling Celebrates One-Year Mark

May 23, 2019

So now that legalized sports gambling is celebrating its first birthday, what have we learned with this economic and social experiment?

Not Everyone Has Joined the Party

For starters, not every state is joining in the celebration. In fact, only seven states (Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) have legalized sports gambling. And not all of these states are fully operational yet. Rhode Island and Nevada require in-person registration for online accounts. Delaware doesn’t have online betting. And in Mississippi you can’t place a mobile bet or bet online outside of a casino. As for those states expected to legalize gambling, Montana, Indiana, Iowa, and Washington, D.C. have passed legislation, and New York expects to be in business soon.

Show Me the Money

New Jersey appears to be the big winner of legalized sports gambling, with mobile betting alone having facilitated $2.3 billion in bets. Furthermore, NJ went from handling $16.4 million in sports bets in June 2018 to $372.4 million in March 2019, which is a huge increase. And forecasts suggest that the Garden State could soon be generating $200 million a year in tax revenues from sports betting. It will be interesting to see what the state does with that windfall. Pension plan funding? Infrastructure? Property tax relief?

On the Bandwagon

All four major sports leagues have entered into sponsorship agreements with casinos where data will be shared. As far as media, podcasts and other shows have been created by entertainment companies—such as Barstool Sports, Bleacher Report, Fox Sports and ESPN—to talk about strategic sports betting. And how about that dramatic Tiger Woods win at the Masters? We even saw an individual rake in a large bet for that historic victory.

The Future

What will become of the preponderance of states that have yet to legalize sports gambling? Perhaps they’re waiting on the sidelines to see how the current states fare. However, as these states’ coffers fill, it may be hard for those others to remain on the sidelines.

Draft Kings and Fan Duel may dominate mobile betting for now, but more competitors will be coming, with Fox Sports among those creating their own apps. This may lead to more real-time sports betting instead of traditional point spreads.

Also, what does this mean for how teams approach scoring. Will terms like “running out the clock” or “running up the score” disappear from the lexicon? For example, there was widespread criticism (from high rollers no doubt) when Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley took a knee instead of scoring in an NFL game that impacted the points spread. Just something to think about.

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