The United States has a very large gambling market. Las Vegas in Nevada is one of the most famous gambling locations in the world and almost every state in the U.S. has its own casino. However, when it comes to sports betting, the situation isn’t so bright. Nevada, Oregon, Montana, and Delaware are the only four states in which sport betting is allowed and that is only due to special laws. New Jersey famously tried to join the sports betting states and failed after athletic leagues went to court to overrule their state legislation. However, the battle is not over. Despite being considered a Western, liberal country, the U.S., officially, is on the conservative side when it comes to gambling.
However, this says nothing about the demand for sports betting in the U.S. Many Americans simply turn to the internet for their sports betting needs. Online betting in the U.S. started in 1996, and became a huge market. There are no official numbers about the size of the market but modest estimate i around 12 billion dollars, while pretentious estimates are as high as 400 billion dollars. This stands in stark contrast to the second-largest gambling market after the U.S. – the U.K. In the United Kingdom sports betting have been legal since the 1960s. There are around 9000 betting shops in the U.K. where people can place bets with a licensed bookmaker. Yet the U.K. gambling market is estimated at around 6 billion pounds, a modest number in comparison to the U.S. The differences in market size can stem from different causes such as the much larger population of the U.S. the fact that British are much more careful spenders then American, and that they spend less time on the internet.
Legally, online sports betting in the U.S. is a gray area when it comes to individual people placing online sports bets. The enforcement of laws against online gambling focus mainly on those who process gambling transactions and operators that offer online gambling transactions to U.S. gamblers. The simple gambler isn’t affected by these laws; in fact, no one in America ever went to jail because of online gambling. Despite the different arguments for legalizing sports betting in the U.S., which include the substantial monetary profit for the country, it seems that it won’t happen any time soon. Part of the reason for this is the resistance of athletic leagues to legalization, because they fear it will hurt the integrity of the games themselves.
Despite their athletic leagues’ resistance to legalizing sports betting, the online betting industry continues to bloom in America. In fact, many Americans see betting on a game as an integral part of their sport experience. For example, the most watched sporting event in the U.S., the super bowl, is also a record-breaker when it comes to bets. 4.2 billion dollars were placed in bets on the super bowl 50 (2015), most of it was placed illegally.
The Super bowl is a great example of the American betting market. The most dominant sport in the U.S. when it comes to betting is football, followed by baseball, basketball and hockey. While for our friends across the pond, the most popular sport by far is soccer, followed by tennis and horse racing. This creates two distinct sports betting markets.