How the US became hooked on sports betting


 In 2018, the US Supreme Court made a big decision. They said a law from 1992 that stopped most states from allowing sports betting was not okay. Now, in 2024, sports betting is a big part of American sports. Leagues, teams, players, and TV networks all work with betting companies.

Back in 2018, only Nevada could do sports betting. Now, it's legal in 38 states and Washington D.C. Six more states are working on making it legal.

In February, during the Super Bowl, Americans bet $10.49 billion on sports. That's 24.8% more than last year. The American Gaming Association (AGA) keeps track of how much money is bet. They thought a record 67.8 million American adults (26%) would bet about $23.1 billion on the Super Bowl. That's a 35% increase from 2023.

Overall, legal bets in the US were nearly $120 billion last year.

"In America, people have been betting on sports for as long as there have been sports to bet on," said Joe Maloney, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), in an interview with the media.

"Both Democrats and Republicans could agree that illegal betting was already happening."

According to Maloney, the decision in 2018 was a chance to bring those who bet on sports into the legal marketplace. It also gave politicians the chance to collect taxes from this activity. In 2023, states collected more than $11 billion in taxes from sports betting. New York collected the most taxes, according to the US Census.

"State governments rushed to make money from gambling, and the gambling industry was happy to help," said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).

Legal sports betting has some advantages. It's estimated that 2.5 million adults in the US have a severe gambling problem in a given year, according to the NCPG.

Maloney says that one advantage of legal sports betting is that it provides help for those with gambling addictions. 

"For decades, illegal gambling has been a big business in this country, but there were not enough resources to help those with gambling problems," Maloney said. 

"Now, more money than ever is being spent on helping people with gambling addictions, and we are proud of that."

Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG), disagrees with the idea that legalizing sports gambling helps reduce gambling addiction.

"We've seen no evidence of that whatsoever," Whyte said. "We think the risk has gone up by about 30%."

Whyte also pointed out that in Washington D.C., where both the American Gaming Association (AGA) and the National Council for Problem Gambling are located, the mayor cut all public funding for preventing and treating gambling problems.

"The pace of innovation" in the gambling industry is also a concern. From LeBron James' partnership with DraftKings to ESPN launching an official sportsbook, gambling is becoming a bigger part of the sports-watching experience.

A 2023 NCAA study surveyed young adults aged 18-22 and found that among those who had seen sports gambling advertisements, 52.8% said it made them more likely to want to gamble. Among those at higher risk for gambling addiction, as many as 80% said the ads they had seen made them more likely to gamble.

Joe Maloney, senior vice president of the American Gaming Association (AGA), argues that advertising is essential for bringing gamblers from illegal to legal markets.

"Advertising is very important in regulated markets to communicate to bettors that there is now an opportunity to bet legally," Maloney said.

The rise of advertisements and promotions for sports betting is a concern for NBA commissioner Adam Silver.

"I live in the New York market. It’s constant in terms of promotions for people to bet on sports," Silver said recently. "I worry also about young people. It’s, of course, illegal for young people to bet on sports," he added.

Ramon Zelaya, the moderator of Reddit’s problem gambling forum, agrees with Silver. 

"The explosion of sports betting has captured the attention and engagement of younger gamblers. Folks starting in their teens," Zelaya told the National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG). "I’ve had 16-year-olds post on the subreddit. I have noticed that the college-age demographic tends to gravitate towards sports betting, online poker, trading cryptocurrency, that sort of thing."

Despite Silver's concerns about the increase in sports betting ads, the NBA recently partnered with Sportradar to provide NBA League Pass users with live odds throughout games.

"When sports betting is legal, users can choose to view and select bets directly on NBA League Pass. When ready to place a bet, they are directed to FanDuel or DraftKings, the NBA’s official betting partners, through a seamlessly embedded link," the Sportradar statement read.

Some people think that this easy access to betting is dangerous. 

"Having it right there really made it just so convenient that I was able to just click a button," explained Malek.

 Maloney, however, sees technological innovation as offering new opportunities for the betting industry and its customers.

"I think the pace of innovation right now, particularly as it relates to fan engagement, in-play betting, and live betting, will continue to increase," said Maloney. "I believe that the partnership with leagues, teams, and industry partners will continue."

Whyte is concerned that most sports bettors, especially those involved in in-play betting, don't understand the true odds. It's almost impossible to calculate the true odds within the 30 seconds you have to place an in-play bet.

The betting industry says it is focused on "responsible gambling." According to them, three-quarters of traditional Super Bowl bettors reported seeing a responsible gambling message in the last year, up from 71% in 2023.

Recently, the NBA banned Toronto Raptors player Jontay Porter from the league after an investigation found that the 24-year-old had violated betting rules.

The NBA said its investigation found that Porter had "violated league rules by disclosing confidential information to sports bettors, limiting his own participation in one or more games for betting purposes, and betting on NBA games."

With the rise of sports gambling, incidents like this could become more common, something that concerns NBA commissioner Silver.

"It’s a cardinal sin, what he’s accused of, in the NBA, and the ultimate extreme option I have is to ban him from the game," said Silver. "There’s nothing more serious, I think, around this league when it comes to gambling and betting on our games, and that is a direct player involvement."

When Porter's ban was announced, he did not respond to CNN's request for comment.

In late March, the NBA said it was "looking into" anomalies involving prop bets related to Porter. Reportedly, there were two specific games in which DraftKings Sportsbook flagged prop bets involving Porter in its daily betting insights.

A DraftKings spokesperson told CNN after Porter was banned: "We have no comment on this story. In general, it is important to note that one of the many benefits of legal and regulated sports betting is that sports betting operators identify and report suspicious activity, and the integrity of sport is therefore protected in a manner that does not exist in the illegal market."

Post a Comment

Post a Comment (0)