A whole new industry has sprung up in the nearly five years since the Supreme Court permitted states to legalize sports betting. For millions of fans throughout the country, it is now simply a part of the show.
Even among sports fans who aren’t betting, the seamless integration of gambling into American sports is unavoidable. It signifies a radical shift for a practice that was mostly prohibited just a few years ago.
A new sports environment
According to the American Gaming Association US$180.2 billion has been placed on sports since May 2018. This was when the United States Supreme Court repealed a regulation that prohibited sports betting to four states. The AGA, the industry’s research and lobbying organization have statistics that show this resulted in $13.7 billion in income for the sportsbooks.
Before the NFL season began last September, the AGA claimed that more than 46 million Americans, or 18% of all adults, intended to bet this year. The majority of money was probably wagered legally rather than through illegal agents.
So who is making sports bets? According to the AGA sports bettors are a different demographic from traditional gamblers. For example, the kind of people who might play slots. They have better incomes, tend to be male, and are younger.
Discourse and reporting
It has been questioned as to whether the media would start creating material just for gamblers after this landmark decision.
Unambiguously, the answer is yes and it appears to have changed how sports betting is discussed.
Since 2019, Daily Wager, a gaming program, has been broadcast on ESPN. The sports giant launched a variety of new material focused on choices and betting advice in September 2022. Also, SportsCenter host Scott Van Pelt is well-known for his Bad Beats section. In this show he usually emphasizes the bizarre ways in which a team that is on the winning side of the point spread collapses at the very last second.
If you type “#sportsbetting” into YouTube’s search bar, you’ll see thousands of betting tip channels that have sprung up in the interim.
Another illustration of how times have changed; In the Rose Bowl game against Penn State on January 2, 2023, the University of Utah football team controlled the ball first and goal with only 43 seconds left. Essentially, the game was over. The announcers did point out that for some folks, a touchdown would mean a lot.
And why? Although the broadcasters did not expand, it was clear what they meant. There was a lot riding on that touchdown for those who had bet on the over, predicting a combined total of more than 54 points for the two teams. In a way, ESPN also had a vested interest. Fans of both sides are likely to lose interest in a blowout. However, people’s gaze remain fixed on the item when money is at stake, such as the over.
The ceiling and the risk
Historically, sports leagues have strongly opposed gambling. Many leagues, most notably the NFL, have done a complete U-turn since sports betting became legal. This is despite the fact that they are still worried about preventing players from betting.
This shift in thinking might be attributed to a number of factors. Sports leagues can now argue that legal betting allows for greater monitoring of potential cheating. Whereas before there was apprehension about compromising the integrity of the game owing to a betting scandal. The sportsbooks can see whether there is a lot of betting on one team or a sudden change in betting patterns. This could be a sign of criminal behavior.
Legal gambling is also attracting a lot of fan attention; according to a recent Pew survey, 56% of American adults and nearly 7 in 10 men had read at least a bit about how popular legal sports betting has grown.
Also, there is significant funding from a brand-new category of sponsors, the sportsbooks, which helped increase NFL sponsorship revenue to $1.8 billion during the 2021 season.
The AGA is eager to point out that its member organizations promise to advise their consumers about problem gambling. However legalization has unquestionably made it simpler to access sports betting.
The National Council on Problem Gambling has said that around 25% of American adults bet on sports, which is a tad higher than the AGA’s estimate. According to the NCPG, this proportion has increased from about 15% before to the Supreme Court’s decision.
While this is a significant increase, it also raises the possibility that there will soon be a cap. This would mean that even after all states that will allow sports betting have done so, there won’t be significantly more people placing bets than there are now.
The market is evolving in a variety of ways, but the main change is likely to be problem gambling risk and intensity among already active enthusiasts.