For U.S. sports fans, the best time of the year is here: the NFL is starting and the MLB playoffs, the NBA and the NHL are all around the corner. For those who want to place a bet, there have never been more opportunities to place a legal wager.
Keep in mind, each state has its own rules that determine what types of bets you can make and where you can make them. For example, currently only four states allow online sports betting:
- New Jersey
- West Virginia
However, a further six states (Rhode Island, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Oregon and Tennessee) have plans to allow online sports betting soon. In Delaware, it’s legal but not offered yet. In New Mexico, Mississippi and Arkansas, it’s legal but in very restricted areas. A few other states are looking into it. In each case, you’ll need to be geographically located within state limits to place a bet. For many, you’ll have to sign up for an account in person before placing a bet online.
While legal U.S. sports betting doesn’t have the reach of some gaming-friendly jurisdictions, where people can sign and start placing wagers almost immediately, the growth of the industry is dramatic. Over $8 billion has been legally wagered since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling reversed the ban on sports betting in May 2018.
U.S. online sports betting
While the rollout of online sports betting has been slow, it’s quickly gaining traction where allowed. In New Jersey, for example, bets placed online account for 80 percent of the action. If the ability to place a bet online continues to become easier and more widespread, “experts believe the U.S. eventually will be home to the largest regulated sports betting market in the world, a massive high-tech industry centered on professional and amateur athletics and fueled by hundreds of billions of dollars” as stated in an ESPN article.
To better compete with offshore and/or illegal betting operations, the market will look to expand the availability of online options. Besides the convenience, in-game wagering and other high-tech gaming advancements require the speed and scalability of online delivery to operate successfully.
As U.S. online sports betting is quite new, it’s imperative that operators take measures to ensure that bettors are legal and problem gaming is minimized. In terms of legality, two standard requirements are geofencing, to make sure that sports bettors are within the prescribed geographical area, and age verification, to make sure they are of legal betting age.
The procedures to effectively deal with problem gaming are less clear-cut. There’s something to be said for freedom of choice; how’s an operator to determine what problem gaming is, if the gamer doesn’t voluntarily ask for limitations? Without voluntary exclusion lists or state-defined limits, other options include ability-to-pay measures, but many could see those as an invasion of privacy.
Educational initiatives are non-controversial, cut across all gaming groups and can promote companies as good corporate citizens. To that end, enabling educational efforts seems like a smart strategy.
Thus, to take advantage of the new legal status of sports betting and grow the industry, operators should focus on three points:
- Ensure compliance with state requirements
- Create communication strategies that promote responsible gaming
- Develop and extend technologies that add to the entertainment value and convenience of sports betting
A guide for U.S. states that allow sports betting (as of August 2019)
Place your bets (sports betting allowed)
- West Virginia
- New Jersey
- Rhode Island
- New York
- New Mexico
Check your stats (sports betting approved, but pending rollout)
- New Hampshire
- North Carolina
- Washington, D.C.
Flip a coin (sports betting legislation proposed)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington state
Keep your money (no current sports betting legislation)
- North Dakota
With 19 states already, or soon, allowing sports betting, including populous states such as New York, Pennsylvania and Illinois, placing legal sports wagers is now a reality for many Americans. A further 24 states are in various stages of legislation on the matter, so many of those states may join the rush in the next year. The trend is clear, and companies that want to compete in the market should get their technology, compliance and communications strategies and procedures in place; sports betting in the U.S. is no longer a long shot and the odds for success look very good indeed.