EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (AP) – More than half of the United States now offers legal sports betting, just three years after it was cleared by the United States Supreme Court.
Currently, 26 states and the District of Columbia are expected to be able to legally wager before the end of the NFL and college football season, according to the American Gaming Association, with up to five other states offering such bets before. the end of the season. in February with the Super Bowl.
That’s against 18 states with legal sports betting at the start of last year’s football season. And some of the largest markets in the United States, including California and Florida, are moving towards legalization, with New York planning to adopt mobile sports betting at some point.
The explosive growth of the industry comes as more companies join the fray, making it more difficult to acquire and retain market share and profits.
And that makes things worse for some people with gambling issues, as the industry offers new ways to bet on sports, including live micro-betting on the outcome of things like the next possession in a soccer match. .
“There is no doubt this will be a huge year, and it will be a record,” said Eric Hession, co-chairman of Caesars Digital, whose parent company bought the William Hill brand this year and renamed it Caesars. Sportsbook.
Jerry Arnold, a supervisor of FanDuel sports betting at Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, New Jersey, just outside of New York City, said a trend is clear.
“A lot of people have a lot more money,” he said. “They get unemployment or stimulus checks and they want to double or triple their money. They say all the time, ‘I just got a check and I’m going to double it.’ “
FanDuel is the official odds provider for The Associated Press.
More than 45 million Americans say they plan to bet on the NFL season this year, according to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry’s national trade group. This is a 36% increase from last year.
Sean Williams, originally from New London, Connecticut, but now living in New Jersey, was recently at the Meadowlands to bet $ 1,000 on the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. He won a sports bet three years ago and has kept coming back since.
“I came here and won a thousand, so I’m going to keep returning these tickets until I get a million,” he said. “That’s my goal. Play with their money. Trust! I came here to win.
Mobile betting accounts for over 80% of sports betting revenue, much of it live while the games are in progress.
The NFL, which, along with other professional leagues, once fought fiercely against the legalization of sports betting, now allows seven sports betting companies to advertise during games, and teams from various sports have signed deals with companies to become official sports betting partners, including announced deals. Wednesday involving the Baltimore Ravens and New York Jets.
Media companies continue to marry gambling companies, seeking synergies between players who want to bet but also read and watch as much as they can about the sport. Sports Illustrated has started a bookmaker and the Wall Street Journal reports that ESPN is considering a $ 3 billion deal to license its brand to one or more bookmakers. Even sporting goods retailer Fanatics is planning to launch a sports betting app.
The ever-increasing competition makes it more difficult for sports betting companies to win or keep a piece of the pie.
“Market share will be increasingly difficult to maintain over time as more and more entrants arrive,” said Matt Prevost, director of revenue at BetMGM. “But more states have gone online in the last 12 months and are (new) markets for us.”
“The competition is fierce,” added Johnny Avello, head of sports betting for DraftKings. “There are a lot of players in the game now.
According to David Schwartz, game historian at UNLV: “The cost of entry increases as it becomes more difficult to move established entities, which have the first-mover advantage as well as the advantages of strategic partnerships. But, if the product is good, the bettors will respond to it.
Jay Kornegay, vice president of Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, said the coronavirus pandemic still features high in the sports betting equation this year, especially as the highly contagious delta variant increases.
“A lot of people still don’t want to travel and be in a crowd, and sports betting from their couch is very appealing to them,” he said. “You can bet $ 10 and be entertained for three hours.”
There are those who bet a lot more than that. Earlier this year, a National Problem Gambling Council study found an increase in “problem” gambling, particularly among young online sports bettors.
“This increase in gambling-related issues reflects both the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the massive increase in sports betting and the availability of online games in more than half of the country, from l ‘accessibility via mobile devices and widespread advertising,’ said Keith Whyte, group executive director.
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This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Keith Whyte’s name and to show that he is the group’s executive director, not the chairman.