To Bet or Not to Bet: The State of Legal Sports Betting in the US

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 26: Betting tickets for wagers placed on some of the more than 400 proposition bets for Super Bowl LI between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots are displayed at the Race & Sports SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino on January 26, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The State of Legal Sports Betting in the US

Betting on sports, and gambling – especially online gambling – in general, has been a subject of much controversy in the US for years. Interests and opinions on the matter are constantly clashing: many states, led by New Jersey, would see the federal laws banning sports betting to be repelled, while representatives of the major sports leagues of the country, led by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, don’t want it anywhere near the sports they represent. At the same time, the general support for the expansion of legal gambling to the internet seems to be spreading across many states – it seems that the millions the business is pouring into the budget of New Jersey have proven to be quite the incentive. Let us take a brief look at what the state of the business is in the middle of 2017.

Gambling expands in many states

New Jersey was the first state to introduce online casino gambling after it gained the right in 2011. Since 2013, its online casino market has continued to grow, even without opening it up to international operators. While NJ residents can’t play Royal Vegas Canada slots, they have enough local alternatives to choose from. And even if some of them have gaming offers and bonus features that fall behind what established international operators like the Royal Vegas has to offer, they have enough attractive features for the state’s residents – especially the younger players – to flock to them.

In the first five months of 2017, New Jersey’s online casinos paid a total of over $100 million in taxes alone. For the state, online gambling expansion was a good bet, and it plans not to stop here – it wants to legalize sports betting, both online and in real life, within the borders of the state. At the same time, many other states consider legal online gambling. States like Illinois, Pennsylvania, California, and several others, have online gambling bills in the works, at different stages.

A change in attitude is possible

All the major sports leagues in the US were determined to keep their respective sports clear of the gambling industry, with the goal of safeguarding their integrity. PASPA, the bill that has kept sports betting outlawed since 1992, was coined to do just that. Over the years, though, it has been the target of several attacks, most recently from New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, who initiated the Gaming Accountability and Modernization Enhancement Act or GAME Act, meant to repeal the PASPA. This after former NBA Commissioner David Stern himself has called for the repeal of the legislation.

The benefits of legal sports betting would go beyond extra cash going into the states’ budgets. According to a recent study conducted by MoffettNathanson Research, it would also help boost not only the interest in sports but also the NFL’s dwindling ratings, and also boost its revenues – directly, through ad salses, and indirectly, through sponsorship deals, for example. Besides, regulation is control is always better than illegal betting – and the illegal betting market is quite extended, estimated to be world billions of dollars each year.

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