Legal sports betting in US reaches one-year mark

13 May 2019

Tomorrow marks a major milestone for the world of sports gambling. It's the one-year anniversary of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) being declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Department of Justice. A lot has happened in the last year, with eight states introducing legalized sports betting (Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) and five more that have approved legislation (New York, Arkansas, Montana, Iowa and Indiana).

Before last May, Nevada was the sole source of legal sports wagering in the U.S.

At last week’s Southern Gaming Summit at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, there was a major focus on tomorrow’s important date. Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the American Gaming Association, spoke at the event about the impact and success that sports betting in the U.S has had.

“There’s no doubt about it, sports betting legalization is the industry’s biggest victory in a generation,” said Slane.

“In the year since the federal ban on sports betting was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, nearly $8 billion has been legally wagered on sports. That has generated more than $55 million in state and local tax revenues."

U.S. states have constantly been in headlines in regard to approving the legalization of sports betting for themselves.

“States are lining up around the country, introducing legislation to legalize sports betting,” Slane commented.

In fact, just last week we saw Governor Eric Holcomb of Indiana sign off on a sports gambling bill.

“Since last May, nearly $3 billion has been wagered legally outside the Nevada, showing strong nationwide interest,” said Slane.

That number will only continue to grow as more states join the party.

The success of sports betting since last May is not only due to the revenue that has been reported; the support from Americans deserves some credit as well. According to a report from the AGA, 63% of Americans support the repeal of PASPA, and nearly 8 out of 10 Americans support legal sports betting in their state.

Americans are backing sports betting, but some professional leagues are still after an integrity fee from sports gambling.

“MLB and NBA are still adamant in wanting to get, what they call a royalty, which everyone else knows is the integrity fee,” said Slane.

“They do think that they are entitled to this because of the content that they produce. The NFL has largely stood silent; they are more focused on data. They want to see mandatory data requirements in statute that makes books have to buy their data,” she continued.

Even though all seems good with how the last year has gone, there are some negatives to consider improving on.

“Sport betting certainly puts the industry in the spotlight. And by doing so it gives us the chance to build on our momentum. But it also certainly presents risks, if we squander this unique opportunity in our moment’s history,” Slane said.

According to the AGA’s research, in the states that have legal casino sports betting, only 56% of people are aware of it being legal. This seems like a low number when the same research shows that 39% of adults in the U.S. are current or potential sports gamblers. Responsible advertising and regulations was another key point that Slane spoke about at the Southern Gaming Summit.

“We see now the advertising restrictions that have been put in place in Italy on banning sports betting advertising, and in the U.K. and in Australia,” commented Slane.

“These countries are all clamping down now and have been doing this for 20-30 years, but it is a good lesson for us to learn,” she added.

Slane referenced the daily fantasy sports outlets, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, which had restrictions placed on them back in 2016, leading to a ton of bad publicity and bans on DFS in certain states.

“This is an area we want to get out in front of. We want to have some sort of self-imposed, self-regulatory body in place so that we can keep everyone in check and that we don’t want to end up in the same place that daily fantasy sports did back in 2016, when you saw that clampdown happening throughout the country, where you saw them making daily fantasy sports illegal," Slane said.

As for the near future, Slane thinks the positive momentum will continue, mentioning that she wouldn't be surprised if as many as 17 states had legalized sports betting by the end of 2019.

"People always ask me if I think we've met expectations (since PASPA was abolished), and I feel like it has exceeded expectations," Slane said as she looked back on the past year. "I think anyone that has breathed, lived in this industry understands how incredibly difficult it is to get gaming legislation passed. To see the clip at which things have moved, I'm incredibly impressed.

"We've had over 30 states introduce legislation on sports betting, so once the toothpaste is out of the tube, there is no going back. It may take a few more years for other states to adopt, but eventually it's going to happen."

Related Links
Ranked Online Sportsbooks
Southern Gaming Summit 2019
American Gaming Association
FanDuel Site Details
DraftKings Site Details
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino Details