The Rise of Official Betting in the United States

Until recently, it was difficult to find legal sports betting in most of the United States. But things changed in 2018 when the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban, paving the way for individual states to launch legal sports gambling. Now, all but six states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of official betting.

The growth of legal sports betting has created some unique challenges for college athletics. In a September 2023 NCAA survey of campus compliance directors, 27% of autonomy schools reported having dealt with sports betting-related issues among their student-athletes or staff members. Those issues include players being targeted for harassment by bettors or being exposed to billion-dollar advertising campaigns that may lead them to place bets irresponsibly.

New Jersey has become the dominant market, with a handle that rivals Nevada and New York combined. The state has an impressive roster of retail sportsbooks, including FanDuel and BetMGM. And New Jersey’s online offerings, powered by Intralot, are gaining traction.

Pennsylvania moved quickly after the Supreme Court’s ruling, with the first retail sportsbooks opening in November 2018. Then, the legal online launch happened in May 2021 with SugarHouse, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetRivers launching their sites. The state also has a number of legal mobile apps, such as PointsBet and BetRivers.