Sports betting landscape in the United States

Sports Betting

Legal sports betting is currently available in 20 states plus Washington D.C., as of Feb. 1. There are at least five other states that have passed betting laws for sports, and betting should be available there by the end of 2021.

In 2018, the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting, leaving the final decision up to each state. Las Vegas was the only true betting option in sports at that time, but things have progressed quickly. 

The US betting industry ended 2020 on a strong note, setting new records for handle and revenue in the last few months. In November, the total US sports betting handle was nearly $3.5 billion after going over the $3.25 billion mark in October.

Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Washington have all approved sports betting and should start accepting bets by the end of 2021. That will mean that sport betting will be available in more than half the states throughout the country. 

Top Five Sports Betting Markets

Even though almost every state with legal sport betting has seen plenty of growth in the last 12 months, there have been five states that have emerged as the clear leaders. Nevada used to be the sports betting capital of the US, but that title now belongs to New Jersey.

New Jersey nearly brought in more than $1 billion in wagers in December 2020, and it is expected to break that record early in 2021. Nevada has now moved into second place, and that state saw plenty of growth near the end of 2020.

Pennsylvania and Illinois are now the third and fourth biggest sports betting markets, respectively, but those states could change places in 2021. Illinois went over $450 million in betting revenue in sports, in November, just seven months after officially offering sports betting.

Colorado is now the fifth biggest sports betting market in the US, having launched the industry on May 1, 2020. There is not much competition in the Western part of the United States, so Colorado should continue to post huge numbers. 

States Looking to Legalize

Outside of the five states that are expected to launch betting in 2021, a handful of other states could take the leap as well. States are looking for new revenue sources after the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are none better than betting in sports.

Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Ohio appear to be the four states that are the closest to legalization, but other states are not far behind. In states such as Wyoming and North Dakota, Native American tribes are looking to launch the industry on their own.

The three most populous states in the US, California, Florida, and Texas, have all made recent attempts to legalize sports betting, but nothing appears imminent at this time. Be it 2021 NBA season or any other sports, if any or all of these states were able to offer sports betting, it would provide a massive boost to the industry. 

Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, and Utah are four states that have not had any action in terms of sports betting and will likely be the last states to launch.