US sports betting rising to global prominence

The fledgling US sports betting market may be less than four years old, but it is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most significant gambling sectors, and certainly the fastest growing. 


Every day, millions of US citizens can check out the latest betting markets and wager on a wide variety of sports, in many cases from the comfort of their own homes. This fundamental change has happened rapidly, and it is propelling the US towards the top of the global gambling industry. 


Dramatic growth 


Once confined to the state of Nevada, since the Supreme Court lifted federal restrictions in 2018, sports betting has been legalized in dozens of states, resulting in a multibillion-dollar betting bonanza. In New Jersey, more money is currently gambled on sports than in Nevada. California, which has the potential to become the most important market, will vote on legalization this year. 


Sports betting was once an optional extra at most casinos. The main betting activity was at the slots, blackjack, roulette and other table games, while sports betting just added to the atmosphere. Now that seems like a quaint relic of a bygone age as sports betting races ahead across the nation. 


The lines that formerly separated gambling from sports media and professional sports leagues are blurring as betting becomes more popular. Sports betting is now accessible on mobile devices thanks to digital applications, giving it a footing in the United States and posing a threat to brick-and-mortar casinos. And this is only the beginning; the business is on the verge of exploding. 


For the month of June 2018, just a few weeks after legalization, US sports bettors wagered $310m. In October 2021, they wagered $7bn during the month, representing a more than 20-fold increase. Firms involved in sports betting are expected to generate almost $4bn this year. If California legalizes it next year, the industry will get another big boost. Projections for the future size of the US sports betting sector estimate it could be as high as $179bn by 2028, with a growth rate of almost 9%.  


Global comparisons 


Over the same period, the global sports betting market is also expected to grow as the world goes through a sports betting boom. 


In 2020, Europe had the highest revenue share at almost 35 percent, and this is likely to continue throughout the decade. The expansion of the European industry may be linked to the well-established rules and regulations that govern betting in most of the region’s nations. Furthermore, famous betting sports such as horse racing and football are deeply entrenched in European culture, and in some cases have links that go back centuries.  


In 2020, Asia Pacific had the second-largest revenue share, and it is expected to grow at the fastest rate throughout the decade, even faster than the US. The market in this area is being driven by factors such as the increased number of individuals wagering on sports such as cricket, hockey, football and basketball, in addition to increased legalization and internet penetration. In fact, the Asia Pacific region is predicted to account for around half of all worldwide sports bets in the coming years. 


Nevertheless, given the popularity of sports in the US, and the size and wealth of the US economy, we can expect the US sports betting sector to become a top competitor in the global betting industry by the end of the decade. 


Esports and exchanges 


The US betting sector is also likely to undergo rapid changes in the nature of the betting platforms that are most popular, at the same time as growth continues. 


The fixed-odds betting sector is still the main force in the US sports betting industry and is likely to remain so in the medium term, as this form of betting is the most familiar to US sports betting fans, however, fixed-odds betting on traditional sports faces some strong challenges. 


For instance, the exchange betting model, which is extremely popular in parts of Europe has the potential to overtake fixed odds betting. Betting exchanges offer a betting experience that is closer to the operation of a stock exchange and can generally operate on much lower margins than traditional sportsbooks, which is better for customers. 


Esports betting, on popular games such as CS:GO, Dota 2 and League Of Legends, is also likely to spread throughout the US, given that this is one of the world’s leading esports hubs. US betting companies that can respond to meet the needs of a new generation of esports bettors can make a major contribution towards propelling the US to the top of the global betting table by 2030.