With the exception of a small number of states such as Iowa and Vermont, sports betting is currently legal in only a few U.S. states. Congress is currently considering several bills to legalize online sports betting, but for the time being, sports betting remains illegal in most parts of the country.
This is a huge missed opportunity for bettors. States that have legalized sports betting have proven that it can be a powerful tool in promoting tourism and drawing larger audiences to sporting events. It also provides additional revenue for leagues and teams. Furthermore, legalizing online sports betting would allow handicappers to offer their fans accurate and up-to-date information on upcoming games.
Even diehard sports fans have likely felt left out of the action since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBA, NFL, and NHL have all stopped their seasons, and even the MLB is on pause until further notice. Now, more than ever, fans want to be able to follow their teams even when the games aren’t being played. Legalizing online sports betting would allow fans to place bets on the go and feel more connected to the games they love.
The Untapped Market
According to a report from the North American Association of Regulatory Authorities (4AR), the legal sports betting market in the U.S. is valued at $150 billion annually and is projected to hit $200 billion in the next few years. That’s a massive market that has so far only been available to illegal bettors. Many sportsbooks have shut down during the pandemic, leaving millions of dollars on the table for the house.
The good news is that as more states have legalized sports betting, the number of legal sportsbooks has increased, providing more options for bettors. Unfortunately, not all legal sportsbooks are equal, and understanding how they work is critical when placing a bet.
A good sportsbook will have several things going for it. First, it should offer a wide variety of sports, leagues, and teams so that no matter what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find it. Second, the sportsbook should have a reliable and honest reputation, and finally, the site should be user-friendly and have a good mobile app to make placing a bet as easy as possible.
A Better, More Inclusive Experience For Fans
The last few years have seen a boom in legal and illegal sports betting, with more and more states putting in place legal frameworks to regulate the industry. The result has been a more inclusive experience for fans, with an increasing array of places to place a bet opened to the public. However, just because something is legal doesn’t mean it’s socially acceptable or safe, so it’s still important to keep a healthy, safe distance from unsanctioned betting.
Why Illegal Sports Betting Is Still Popular
Although it’s not always easy to determine exactly why individuals participate in an activity, it’s pretty safe to assume that there’s at least a few reasons why people prefer to bet on sports illegally. First, the stigma that surrounds gambling has lessened, and many people now consider it to be a recreational activity, akin to going to the movies or listening to music. Second, the ease of accessibility of the Internet has made it much easier for people to place bets of any kind, including illegal ones.
There are pros and cons to both options. Legal sports betting provides fans with a safer option and allows them to place bets on the go. However, it also means they’ll have to go to a different website to get their fix, and that’s a burden some people may not want to bear. Ultimately, it’s up to the individual whether they want to go through the hassle of breaking the law or not.
BETTING HAS ITS INCLUSIVE ASPECTS
While we’re on the subject of stigma surrounding gambling, it’s important to remember that betting is not always about winning. Sports betting can be a very inclusive activity. In fact, the ability to bet can be a big draw for certain groups of people. Whether you’re a diehard sports fan or someone who enjoys a good game from time to time, you can find a way to bet on sports.
A good place to start is the fantasy sports industry. Individuals who have a gambling problem can enjoy the inclusive aspects of fantasy sports while never having to actually leave the house. There’s also the option to do it online via a mobile app, so you can keep an eye on scores and updates from everywhere you go. No matter what type of sports fan you are, fantasy sports can be a great fit. You’ll also find a wide variety of sports, props, and roster changes to bet on. Plus, you get to keep a record of all your wagers, so if you ever do happen to have a problem gambling, you can always look back on your history.
A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF GAMES AND ODDS
For those who do choose to go the illegal route, they often lament the fact that they didn’t know how the games were going to turn out. While it’s true that we often don’t know how a game is going to play out until it’s over, sports betting has the unique ability to provide odds of the game. This is especially important for bettors who follow more than one team, as they’ll often find it difficult to keep track of what’s going on.
For example, say you’re betting on the Baltimore Ravens to beat the New England Patriots. You might look at the Patriots’ odds at first, but then you’ll notice that the Ravens have a better chance of winning. Knowing how important regular updates on odds are to maintain a healthy dose of skepticism, you might check the website less often, simply going with your first instinct instead. This is why it’s always a good idea to check the sports books’ odds before placing any bets. Doing so will ensure you’re not being fooled by an incredibly optimistic or pessimistic line.
SOURCES OF REVENUE FOR LEAGUES AND TEAMS
One of the biggest draws of legalized sports betting in the U.S. has been the ability to generate additional sources of revenue for leagues and teams. It’s well-established that sports fans will watch any sporting event, even if they’re not directly involved in the action, simply because there’s so much money on the line. This is where betting comes in. It’s one of the few industries that generate revenue even during times of national disaster.
The most notable example of this is the 2009 National Hockey League (NHL) Stanley Cup playoffs, which saw the Phoenix Coyotes become one of the biggest franchises in hockey history. The team had never made it past the first round of the NHL playoffs before the outbreak of the pandemic, and with the salary cap coming into effect immediately after the season ended, they weren’t able to keep all their key players. The result was a complete rebuild, which took many years to come to fruition.
There are likely many other examples of teams that were able to generate more revenue due to sports betting, but the important thing is that it’s out there and can be used as a tool for financial managers and team owners, looking to bring in more income while expanding their fan base.
The future of online sports betting in the U.S. is definitely something to look forward to. Several bills are currently making their way through Congress, with legislation to legalize sports betting being introduced earlier this year by Rep. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). If these bills become law, it will mark a seismic shift in the way we watch and follow sports as well as how we place bets on the outcome of games. With the current worldwide pandemic still hanging over the sports world, this is definitely a case of looking forward to getting back to normal.