When we look back at the first week of September 2019 it will surely be seen as the one where sports betting truly started going mainstream in the US.
To be clear, you still can’t legally bet on sports in most states. In fact, there are just over a dozen states with retail sportsbooks up and running. So far, only six of them offer online and mobile sports betting.
Another five states, the District of Columbia, and the US Island Territory of Puerto Rico have all passed sports betting legislation and are preparing to launch sportsbooks too.
But sports betting going mainstream is not about how many states are on board. In fact, it’s not about how many major casino corporations and multi-national online gambling operators are involved either.
The Fox Bet launch
We are, of course, talking about Fox Bet, the online sportsbook and mobile sports betting app born out of a partnership between broadcaster Fox Sports and online gaming giant The Stars Group.
The Stars Group was already in the US sports betting market and didn’t move the needle much at all. So, what we’re really talking about is Fox Sports’ entry into the sports betting sphere.
You may remember that Fox itself launched as a TV network in 1986. It was a time when the Big Three networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC dominated TV in the US. Fox quickly became the most successful attempt at making TV a big four. It not only survived but thrived through the rise of cable TV and the explosion in the number of channels on the dial.
There are a variety of reasons for the success of Fox, not the least of which is the NFL itself.
Fox and the NFL
In 1993, Fox won the NFL TV rights from CBS, who had been airing NFL games since the 1950s. NFC games started airing on Fox in the 1994 season, signaling its move into the mainstream. The network never looked back.
Thereafter, Fox built its brand around the NFL. Spinoff brand Fox Sports followed and grew quickly into a group of national, regional, and worldwide sports channels.
In the early 2000s, the Fox brand became synonymous with major sports in this country and around the world.
Despite selloffs and restructuring, it remains that way today. This is why their entry into sports betting really moves sports betting itself into the mainstream.
We’ve already seen Fox Bet using popular Fox Sports personalities like Colin Cowherd and Nick Wright to help market the product. These are the same people spouting opinions about everything sports to a mainstream US audience every day. The fact they’re now hawking a sportsbook is a sure-fire sign sports betting is quickly becoming a bigger part of the American lexicon than ever before.
The most bet on sport in the US: football
The NFL is the most popular major sports league in the country. It’s no coincidence that betting on NFL football is also the most popular sport for betting in the US.
There’s no doubt Fox will use the NFL platform to continue to tout Fox Bet, even if the real-money wagering product is only available in NJ and PA. It won’t take long before sports betting and the Fox Bet brand are driven right into the heart of the American mainstream through its favorite game.
Other signs of sports betting’s move into the mainstream will come. It shouldn’t be too long before Americans are able to watch a live stream of a game and bet on it on the same app.
But, we’ll always look back at the first week of September 2019 as the beginning of sports betting’s move into the mainstream.
A little over a year ago it was illegal everywhere except Nevada and occurred mostly underground with shady bookies and offshore online operators. Now, sports betting is out front, legal in an ever-growing number of states, and quickly becoming ingrained in American culture. In no small part due to one of sports media’s biggest players jumping in the game.