At this point, there’s no question that the market for legal sports betting is on the rise. Now that states have had the ability to legalize for more than a year, several have already passed legislation to allow the placement of sports wagers. In 2019 alone, as many as six states are primed to pass sports betting bills.
Montana, Indiana, Iowa, and Tennessee have already completed the process of legalizing sports betting this year, but Illinois and New Hampshire are very close behind. Both New Hampshire and Illinois have bills that have been approved by both their respective state Senate and House representatives, and now just require approval from their Governor.
With all the approval sports betting has been receiving from states across the country, it seems like a foregone conclusion that most states will legalize at some point in the near future. While many states are warming up to sports betting, others are still miles away politically. In the northwest, the state of Oregon is using pre-existing legislature to offer sports betting through the state lottery. Just north of them, Washington is nowhere near legalizing due to the number of tribal casinos that have gambling compacts with the state.
Washington state might be a special case, but other states oppose sports betting for different reasons. The biggest being that lawmakers believe that legalizing sports betting directly feeds into gambling addiction. Lawmakers do have a legitimate concern with this, but illegal sports betting has been around for decades.
If someone with a gambling addiction really wanted to bet on sports, they already have ways to do so. Allowing legal sports betting simply serves as making the process easier, although some gambling addicts may still wish to bet illegally to avoid paying higher fees. It is difficult to definitively say that legal sports betting fuels gambling addiction, but it absolutely doesn’t help.
Alcohol is another controversial topic that used to be illegal, but now consumption and sale is permitted all across the country. Millions of people struggle with alcohol addiction every year, but that hasn’t served as a reason to prohibit it. Outlawing alcohol again would not solve alcohol addiction problems, especially for those that currently struggle with it.
Just like how the prohibition days showed, if someone really wants to do something, whether it be placing sports wagers or drinking alcohol, they’re going to find a way to do it. This is why flat-out restriction doesn’t work to prevent addiction, nor should it be used as a reason not to legalize.
Many states that have opted to legalize sports betting have done so in a limited capacity. Most require you to physically place bets in-person, only at select approved casinos within the state. This means that if you live hundreds of miles from the next sports-betting approved casino, you’d have to travel all that way just to place a sports bet.
A few states do allow bettors to place their bets online or through a mobile app. As of right now, only New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia currently allow you to place an online bet from anywhere within the state. Mississippi technically allows it, but only if you’re physically located in the casino. Montana, who recently legalized, hasn’t rolled sports betting out yet, but their mobile rules are the same as Mississippi’s.
Other states that legalized recently have been much more welcoming towards mobile betting. Iowa will permit it so long as you register first in-person, but Illinois and Indiana will fully allow mobile sports betting. Tennessee will only offer mobile sports betting, meaning that 2019 has been a fantastic year so far for mobile sports betting.
You may wonder why mobile sports betting has been picking up so much steam lately. A panel of some of the top executives in both the technology and gambling industries have indicated they expect 90% of all sports wagers to be placed online within 10 years. Considering that only four states offer unrestricted mobile betting, 90% is a massive figure to expect in 10 years time.
However, the state of New Jersey is sitting as shining example of what the industry may look like. New Jersey was one of the first states to legalize sports betting, offering wagers for more than a year now. In their first year of operation, sportsbooks within the state of New Jersey have accepted more than $3 billion in sports wagers.
Not only is that figure significant, but so is the fact that more than 80% of those wagers were placed through a mobile app or online. That means that mobile sports wagering has accounted for more than $2.4 billion in total wagers in New Jersey alone. New Jersey is viewed as the gambling headquarters of the east coast, but it still serves as a great sample size of how bettors prefer to place their wagers.
Two technology CEOs, Moti Malul of NeoGames and Parikshat Khanna of CG Technology, both believe that more than 90% of all U.S. sports bets will be placed with a mobile device. However, Itai Pazner of 888 Holdings thinks that 50% may be a more reasonable estimate. Despite differences in expectations of how many people will be placing sports bettings via mobile, all parties do agree that mobile is the way of the future for sports betting.
In the technology-obsessed era we live in today, everyone always has access to their mobile phone. Needing to physically travel to a casino is quite limiting, but pulling out your phone and opening an app is extremely quick and easy. While it might not be like that you live next to a legal casino, it is very likely that you have a smartphone capable of placing a mobile bet. This makes the development of mobile the clear future for legal sports betting, so don’t be surprised to see more states warming up to it!