Since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted by the Supreme Court in 2018, sports betting has grown rapidly in the US and the upward trend is predicted to continue.
This blog looks at the latest sports betting statistics and insights to gauge the scale of the industry and the links between sports betting and gambling problems.
What is sports betting?
Sports betting is a popular type of gambling that involves placing a wager on a sports event. Bets are usually made through bookmakers (also known as sportsbooks) which can be online or bricks-and-mortar establishments, such as betting shops or casinos.
There are three main types of sports betting in the US:
- Traditional sports betting – This involves placing a wager on the outcome of a popular sports event – football, baseball, basketball, hockey etc – or something that happens during the event.
- Fantasy sports betting – This is when a fantasy sports league is formed and each contestant choosing a team of players and competes against opponents.
- Sports contests – Players compete against each other by selecting winners for a series of games.
Dive Deeper: The Psychology of Sports Betting
The impact of Covid-19 on sports betting
Sports betting in the US surged after the federal ban was lifted by the Supreme Court in 2018. By the time that Covid-19 struck in early 2020, almost half of US states had legalized, or introduced legislation to legalize, the sports betting industry.
As bricks-and-mortar casinos and bookmakers were forced to close, and Americans looked for other forms of entertainment, online sports betting skyrocketed. This physical to digital gambling shift was already happening pre-Covid but it has been accelerated by the pandemic.
Sports betting statistics
Here is a roundup of the latest US sports betting statistics and facts:
Top 5 sports that US bettors wagered on in 2019
In April 2019, a year after the federal ban on sports betting was lifted by the Supreme Court, the top five sports that US fans said they would place a wager were as follows:
- National Football League – 61%
- National Basketball Association – 58%
- Major League Baseball – 53%
- Boxing – 42%
- Horse racing – 35%
Sports betting revenue in the US 2018-2020
Sports betting is experiencing rapid growth in the US: $430.7 million in 2018, $908.9 million in 2019 and $1.55 billion in 2020. Factors influencing this increase include the 24/7 accessibility of online gambling and the growing number of US states where sports betting is now legal. (Source: Statista)
Forecast revenue from sports betting in the US 2021-2025
Sports betting in the US is forecast to continue experiencing significant growth over the next few years. In 2021, sports betting revenue is expected to be $2.5 billion and by 2025 this is projected to reach $8 billion. This rapid growth is likely to be fuelled by more states legalizing sports betting, and agreements made between sports betting companies and casinos in 2019. (Source: Statista)
Revenue forecast of US sports betting in 2025 by type of betting
In 2025, online sports betting revenue is forecast to reach $5 billion, while sports betting revenue generated by bricks and mortar establishments is predicted to be $1.5 billion. (Source: Statista)
Amount wagered on sports betting in US casinos 2018-2020
The amount wagered on sports betting at commercial casinos in the US has more than trebled in three years: $6.58 billion in 2018, $13.07 billion in 2019 and $21.51 billion in 2020. (Source: Statista)
Sports betting trends and insights
In early 2021, the National Council on Problem Gambling released a National Detailed Report and State Detailed Reports as a follow up to The National Survey of Gambling Attitudes and Gambling Experiences (NGAGE) 1.0, which provided an overview of gambling trends in the US. The survey looked at a range of gambling issues including participation levels, rates of positive play and problematic behavior. (The NGAGE survey was conducted in November 2018, when sports betting was only legally available in Nevada and New Jersey.) Key findings were that:
- Three out of four of US adults reported some type of gambling activity in the year before the survey. Only 12% of respondents said they had never gambled before.
- Legal restrictions on gambling have little impact on gambling participation. One in five respondents had previously placed a sports bet despite it only being legal in two states at the time of the survey.
- Sports bettors exhibit significantly higher levels of problematic play than other gamblers, including lying to hide gambling and relying on others to pay debts or bills*.*
- People who engage in sports betting on a weekly basis are five or more times more likely to report frequent risky behavior. (It is unknown whether sports betting causes risky behavior or if people who are more susceptible to risky behavior are attracted to sports betting.)
- Younger people tend to be at higher risk of gambling addiction. Half of those under 35 years old responded “yes” to at least one indicator of risky behavior.
- Many people who gamble do not understand the way that gambling works. Misconceptions include thinking that gambling is a good way to make money and believing that the chances of winning get better after losing. These misconceptions are more common among sports bettors.
How to get help for sports betting addiction
If you are worried that you, or a loved one, may be addicted to sports betting, Kindbridge can help you regain control of your life.
Our fully-licensed therapists are specialists in gambling disorder. They can provide high-quality online counseling to address your problematic gambling behavior and support your overall mental and emotional well-being. After assessing your needs, we will design a treatment plan that is tailored to your specific goals.
Take our gambling disorder test then get in touch to book your free and confidential 30-minute consultation