Until quite recently, sports betting in the United States was illegal under federal law. Betting on any sporting event would have been illegal except in a few very specific circumstances. Now that the federal law has been repealed, and more and more states are beginning to adopt and grow their betting industries.
Given the size of the United States, with a population of 329.5 million people, it’s natural to wonder if it will become the biggest betting market in the world for sports betting. Let’s look at a few reasons why that might be the case.
Firstly, let’s just look at the simple viewership numbers for sports in the US. Because even per capita, sports are extremely popular in the US, comparatively speaking. Around 154 million people in the US watch sports at least once a month, and that number is expected to rise to around 160 million in the next couple of years.
Of those sports, the NFL is the most popular, with around 37% of Americans saying it is their favourite sport. In fact, the NFL has the highest attendance of any sports league in the world.
With these kinds of viewership numbers, it’s plain to see why US could be poised to become the biggest sports betting nation. The population is large, and viewership is proportionally large—so there are plenty of potential bettors to boost the size of the market.
Following on from this point, part of the reason sports are so broadly popular in the US is that there are a great many different sports, played in a large league and on a big scale, for viewers to choose from. As I said, the NFL is the most popular, but that is followed closely by baseball, basketball, ice hockey and soccer. There are then many more less popular but still thriving sports.
Many other countries feel dominated entirely by a single sport. Football, that is soccer, is the most popular sport by a much greater margin in many European countries.
This gives greater potential for a larger betting market, with more choice for bettors who don’t like a particular sport.
Now, let’s turn to the numbers.
One of the clearest ways to see the direction that sports betting is going in the US is just to look at the revenue. Indeed, even before it was legalized, black market betting is estimated to have laundered around $140 billion per year.
In 2019, around $910 million was made on sports betting across the country. In 2020, that figure was around $1.55 billion, and then that more than doubled in 2021 to $4.33 billion. The growth is enormous and plain to see, and it is clear that the numbers are only going to continue to rise.
This kind of growth is perhaps the most factual and statistical way that we can see that the US may well become the biggest betting market in the world for sports betting. If we look at the regions like the UK, we can see the immense number of new betting companies entering this market every month, and this is a much smaller market than the USA. The numbers don’t lie, and it clearly has the potential.
But other areas, such as advance in technology, are also vital.
Online betting has become far easier in recent years than it ever has been. This has driven huge growth in the industry in many other parts of the world, and there is every reason to expect the same thing will happen in the US on a larger scale.
Smartphones are present in 84% of US households, meaning that ownership is all bit universal. This means that now, anyone can bet anywhere, anytime, even live betting during sporting events. This makes betting far more convenient and attractive to the average, casual bettor, who now doesn’t have to go to a bookmaker or betting shop to make their bets. Convenience is a more important factor than many give it credit for.
So, plainly, the US has the potential to become the biggest betting market in the world by pure figures alone. It’s unlikely to surpass some nations to become the biggest nation of bettors per capita, but the simple fact of its size means it has every chance to become the world’s largest sports betting nation.