“I don’t think that gambling is the biggest part of sports, but I think it’s an important part of sports.” This was said in a radio interview by Vegas Stats and Information Network Host and Managing Editor Brent Musburger, who predicts a future where betting lines are flashed across the bottom of sports programs along with the scores. Looking at the current state of the industry, the legendary broadcaster’s quote rings true.
2017 saw a record amount of $4.9 billion spent on sports gambling in the state of Nevada. This number, originally reported by the UNLV Center for Gambling Research, reflects an uptick of over 440 percent since 1984. With growing revenue and a clear incline in popularity, betting on sports is clearly getting too big for the desert city of Las Vegas. And, thanks to recent legislation, that statistic will not only spread across the U.S., but skyrocket in value.
In May of 2018, the road was paved for the future of sports betting in the United States. While wagering on sports was previously exclusive to Nevada, the 6-3 ruling from the Supreme Court has opened the doors for New Jersey and beyond, with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy placing the very first legal bet on Thursday, June 14. And, thanks to the ruling, it is now entirely up to individual states to decide if they want legal sports betting or not.
At the time of this writing, there are currently six states that permit wagering on sporting events: Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, New Mexico, and West Virginia, with over half of the total U.S. making the steps towards legalization. The only state that seems completely unlikely to approach legal gambling is Utah, reflected by a strict state constitution which restricts everything from sports gambling to lottery tickets.
While it may take some time before sports betting truly hits the mainstream, there’s no denying that there could be numerous benefits to legalization. The economic capabilities are astonishing, with a 2017 Oxford University report detailing a potential $11.6 billion to $14.2 billion annual contribution to the United States Gross Domestic Product. Additionally, the report details how the market would gain 125-152,000 jobs, with an approximate average salary around $48,000.
Two companies that look to reap the benefits of the Supreme Court decision are FanDuel and DraftKings, both notorious in the gambling conversation for their “daily fantasy sports” system, which has remained legal due to the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act designating fantasy sports as a game of skill rather than luck. Thanks to the bright future of legalized sports betting, the two companies look to expand their horizons, with the FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook apps recently launching in New Jersey, with hopes to expand to more legal territories in the future.
The next few years will be a fascinating time for the world of sports betting. The signs are there for considerable growth, between economic projection and major companies jumping on board. Depending on your location, wagering on the Super Bowl winner, which once required a plane ride and a trip to Caesar’s Palace, could be accessible from your smartphone. As Musburger told the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast, sports betting “has operated in the shadows for far too long, had been an extensive black market, and now at least it will come out into the open and be an accepted part of the American betting culture. And that’s the way it should be.”