Legalized sports gambling in the United States is off to a fast start.
To say the least.
In the four years since federal regulations were lifted on the fledgling industry, Americans have wagered more than $125 billion on sports via legal betting handlers, according to The Associated Press.
With 15-20 states still not “in the game,” insiders say the growth is just beginning.
Ex-N.J. Sen. Ray Lesniak: ‘I made a good bet’
Last Friday was the fourth anniversary of the US Supreme Court legalizing sports betting. Roughly one-third of the country does not permit organized wagering, but several states, like Texas, Missouri and North Carolina, remain at different political stages of adapting – and accepting – the industry as a legitimate source of tax revenue.
For millions, sports betting has become an integral part of their game-watching experience. While many have suffered from the effects of irresponsible wagering or fallen prey to a habitual nature, most have accepted it as a leisurely activity.
Industry advertising by major players like DraftKings and FanDuel have infiltrated mainstream television and radio.
Now retired from New Jersey Senate, Ray Lesniak filed the initial lawsuit against the federal government in a bid to legalize sports betting nationwide. On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
The political longshot came in.
Lesniak said he pursued the issue to help generate extra taxes and help protect individuals from the dark forces of gambling organizations acting without federal guidelines.
“I made a good bet for New Jersey and for America,” he told The AP.
Is US Sports Betting Getting Too Big Too Fast?
Lesniak is credited with collecting the first legal winning wager in New Jersey. He selected France to claim the World Cup, at 8-to-1 odds. He collected $400 on a $50 bet.
Karol Corcoran serves as the general manager of FanDuel’s online sportsbook. Did she know what she was getting into?
“I don’t think any of us would have expected how big the (industry) would be just four short years later,” Corcoran told The AP.
How about DraftKings President and Co-Founder Matt Kalish? Did he know?
“I got into this industry because I was always the kind of kid who liked to predict things, to compete with my friends and make predictions,” he said. “For people that like to do that, sports betting has become far and away the No. 1 thing.”
In November, a set of measures will be on the ballot in California, one of the industry’s biggest unsecured prizes. But tribal casinos and commercial gambling organizations are muddling the legislative process, making its passage, at the moment, murky.
Along with the 30 states that have live legalized sports betting, five states, plus the District of Columbia, have enacted laws to put the processes in motion, according to the American Gaming Association.
By 2028, US sports betting is expected to grow to $129 billion, Vantage Market Research estimated.
Is the industry’s current financial arc sustainable?
That’s a good question.