State of the Union: US Sports Betting Update – Support Swells for Sports Betting Across America

The American Gaming Association claims that there is overwhelming public support for legalized sports betting across the US after conducting a nationwide poll. The industry body reported that 79% of respondents now support regulated sports wagering and 63% endorse the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down PASPA. Ten states and the District of Columbia have authorized sports betting since that federal ban was deemed unconstitutional and a further 15 have bills on the table. The AGA urged all states to accept the will of the people and usher in a new era of regulated sports wagering throughout America.

United States of America

The trade body, which represents the $261 billion US casino industry, runs a number of surveys throughout the years. They are conducted on its behalf by a polling agency that surveys just over 2,000 adult Americans and feeds back the results. Another poll it ran this week suggested that Americans will bet $6 billion on this Sunday’s Super Bowl and the vast majority of those wagers will be placed illegally. It found that nearly one in 10 adults will place a bet on Super Bowl LIII, equating to 22.7 million people.

Eight states now boast legal sportsbooks and they look set for a bumper day of trading. But the AGA also warned that more needs to be done to tackle illegal bookies and offshore sites. “The interest in legal, regulated sports betting in the United States has never been higher,” said Bill Miller, AGA’s president and chief executive officer. “More Americans than ever before will be able to place their bets with legal sports books now operating in eight states, generating valuable revenue for state, local and tribal governments and increasing fan engagement with the game. These results, however, also point to the continued viability of the dangerous, illegal sports betting market in America. It is more important than ever for jurisdictions to enact sound policies that provide a safe, legal alternative with protections for the nearly 23 million Americans who will place a bet on the big game.”

Integrity Fee Debate Rages On

Sports leagues like the NFL and NBA have demanded a cut of the revenue that legal sportsbooks make. It is known as an “integrity fee”, but sports betting operators are fiercely resistant to it, arguing that they are already operating on low margins and taking all the risk themselves. The AGA’s survey into whether people support legal sports betting also asked respondents about this fee. It said that 23% of those polled were in favour of the leagues getting a cut of wagers on sports, while 55% opposed the idea.

Another bone of contention for the industry is a bill launched by Senator Charles Schumer. It aims to place the federal government in control of sports betting legislation, seizing power from the various states and tribes across the country. State regulatory bodies and sportsbook operators are also strongly against this, arguing that they are best placed to manage their local industries. The AGA poll also covered this and it said that 66% of respondents believe oversight of gaming should be left to state and tribal governments, compared to 17% that think the federal government should handle it.

Integrity Fee Debate

“The results of this research are overwhelmingly clear: consumers want legal sports betting, they believe it should be regulated by state and tribal governments and they don’t think the leagues should get a cut,” said Sara Slane, senior vice president of the AGA. “This weekend, 23 million Americans will wager a staggering $6 billion on the Super Bowl. To put that in perspective, Americans will bet around the same amount on this one event as they bet legally in all of 2018.

“However, Americans will continue to bet illegally without access to safe, regulated alternatives. With sports betting legislation flooding state capitals across the country, legislators can pursue these opportunities knowing they have the support of their constituents. AGA will continue to advocate for the inclusion of sensible gaming policies wherever it is being considered, including consumer protections and reasonable tax rates that enable the legal, regulated market to compete with illegal bookies and offshore operators.”

Lawmakers continue to fight for sports betting

Delaware was the first state to join Nevada in offering regulated sports wagering after the Supreme Court axed PASPA. New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia swiftly joined the party, and Pennsylvania and Rhode Island also launched legal sportsbooks before the end of 2018, while a tribal casino in New Mexico has begun accepting sports wagers too. New York and Arkansas have also passed legislation that permits sports betting, along with Washington, D.C., and they are in the process of devising a framework for it.

Connecticut State Flag

Several more states are expected to roll out sports wagering in 2019, with Connecticut at the front of the queue. It introduced a scaled-down anticipatory law in 2017 in case PASPA was struck down, yet tribal concerns and questions around expansion have stalled progress on moving that law forward. A new law is now needed and nine Democrat senators introduced bill S 665 this week in a bid to authorize sports betting. However, the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes argue that legalized sports betting violates their state compacts, so there will be more legal wrangling before that comes to fruition.

Fighting the Offshore Books

State legislators in South Dakota are also pushing for a sports wagering industry and a group of 25 bipartisan senators introduced a constitutional amendment this week. The aim is to launch a referendum giving votes the chance to legalize sports betting, with 11 tribal casinos and operators in Deadwood hoping to benefit. Bills have also been introduced in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Oregon, California, Arizona and Hawaii.

Illegal vs Legal sports betting

Several of these states are expected to introduce sports betting by the time the next Super Bowl rolls around, meaning that many more Americans will have the opportunity to bet on the big game in a legal setting if they so desire. The next step is for legal operators to seize market share from the offshore sites that have been thriving for years, unburdened by tax demands and regulations. A bigger, more powerful and joined up US sports betting industry could in theory wage a stronger war against this black market. States also lose out in tax revenue to offshore sites, so there is a case for the authorities to launch a clampdown. But ultimately the legal operators need to produce a compelling offering with attractive lines and bonuses, and growing competition in each state should ensure they do just that.

Author: Kristian

Kristian heads up the content and SEO team at Digital Fuel having worked in digital marketing for ten years. He’s as passionate about creative content as he is about Brighton & Hove Albion FC and when he’s not following football he’s writing about Brighton’s bustling pub scene

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