A $25 Billion Success Story: Legal US Betting Sets Records 2 Years In

Written By Grant Lucas on October 9, 2020 - Last Updated on March 15, 2021

It boggles the mind to think the US Supreme Court issued its ruling on the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) a little more than two years ago.

Think about it. In April 2018, 30 months ago, only Nevada betting sites offered legal single-game sports wagers. Now, 17 states boast state-regulated wagering, as does Washington, D.C. An 18th state, Tennessee, expects to enter the fold next month.

Since the repeal of PASPA, legal US sports betting has taken off — “thriving” is an understatement. Even in a pandemic-riddled era, the industry has persevered.

“COVID-19 has undoubtedly posed the most difficult economic challenge the gaming industry has ever faced,” Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, said in a news release. “Yet gaming’s record popularity prior to COVID-19, as well our resilience in the midst of such adversity, is evidence of the industry’s foundation for continued success as we emerge from the pandemic.”

And we are seeing some incredible numbers across the country. Similarly, we’re occasionally seeing disappointing (albeit unsurprising) figures as well — some states have unrolled legal betting more smoothly than others.

Regardless, legal sports betting continues to trend upward.

Legalized sports betting exceeds $25 billion in handle

No matter what happens down the road, Nevada will forever stand as the patriarch of regulated wagering.

For decades, the industry existed solely in the Silver State, setting the trend and the standard. So it’s only fitting that Nevada’s most recent month helped legalized sports betting reach a significant landmark.

In accepting some $475 million in wagers in August, Nevada pushed nationwide handle past $25 billion since the repeal of PASPA.

During that time, four states have taken in over $1 billion in bets. And of course, Nevada leads the pack — although, as New Jersey has shown in recent months, the Garden State is making a case to take over as sports betting king.

New Jersey$7,699,589,389.00$531,829,667.00
West Virginia$447,057,173.00$34,991,796.00
Rhode Island$357,631,804.00$27,349,041.00
New Hampshire$106,352,364.00$7,880,021.00
Washington, D.C.$15,508,343.00$2,383,077.00
New York---$11,570,841.75
New Mexico------

Riding the sports betting high in 2020

When the coronavirus pandemic shut down sports in March, it was expected that the sports betting industry would take a hit. And it did, though niche sports such as table tennis attempted to shoulder the load.

By late July, though, we began seeing the return of major sports. The NBANHL and MLB were in full swing throughout most, if not all, of August.

The public was itching to place bets on their favorite teams. And that pent-up desire was unleashed in August, as legal sports betting industries across the country combined for $2.1 billion in wagers placed — the largest monthly handle in US history. That total generated $119.4 million in revenue, the second-highest-ever amount, behind only $138.9 million in January.

More detailed breakdowns by state:

A number of states set single-month records in August, including New Jersey, PennsylvaniaIndiana and West Virginia.

JurisdictionLast Reporting Month HandleLast Reporting Month Revenue2020 Handle2020 Revenue
New Hampshire$27,539,869.00$1,366,338.00$105,991,638.00$7,835,262.00
New Jersey$667,979,150.00$39,507,181.00$2,537,362,669.00$177,988,217.00
New Mexico------------
New York---$1,924,133.75---$3,787,415.75
Rhode Island$23,116,965.00$1,423,391.00$98,049,596.00$8,511,437.00
Washington DC$3,269,118.00$498,896.00$15,508,343.00$2,383,077.00
West Virginia$45,897,001.00$2,337,229.00$174,604,177.00$9,301,413.00

How high can sports betting go?

It would be difficult to argue that any month will exceed August. Again, that lengthy wait for the return of sports produced ample celebration, particularly from bettors, when the action did come back.

For example, in August, New Jersey reported nearly $668 million in handle — by far the highest single-month total in US history, topping the $614.1 million set by Nevada in November 2019.

Though 2020 has certainly had its lows, this particular industry is rapidly taking off. New Jersey has accepted $2.5 billion in bets in 2020, outpacing Nevada’s $1.9 billion and Pennsylvania’s $1.5 billion. New jurisdictions have come online, including Colorado ($251.6 million in handle since May), Michigan ($16.3 million since March) and Washington, D.C. ($15.5 million since May). Online sports betting in Tennessee is expected to launch in November.

While seemingly no single month can overshadow August, the future of legalized sports betting appears strong. Looking into the immediate future, September sports betting reports will certainly catch eyes. All four of the major North American professional leagues were in action; that includes three days in which all four leagues were playing.

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Written by
Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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