Published: May 14, 2023

Five years into sports betting legalization: Breaking down the numbers

Just after 10 a.m. ET, on May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court jump-started the expansion of sports betting with a 14,700-word opinion that began, "Americans have never been of one mind about gambling and attitudes have swung back and forth."

Five years later, with billions of dollars being wagered monthly with licensed bookmakers in the U.S., Justice Samuel Alito's words remain poignant. The American pastime is out in the open, but it hasn't all been smooth sailing.

Survey results released this week by the American Gaming Association found that 85% of American adults agreed with the Supreme Court's decision to invalidate the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, the federal statute that had restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Nevada. The betting industry is generating tax revenue for states and creating jobs. Some states (Kansas) have been disappointed by the early results and others (New York) ecstatic.

Sports betting has been infused into game broadcasts with commercials and in-game advertising. Meanwhile, point spreads and odds, which used to be taboo for league media partners, are now as common as scores and statistics.

At the same time, some states have experienced spikes in calls to problem gambling hotlines. Politicians have proposed bans on sports betting advertising; there's been a recent uptick in gambling-related scandals in professional and collegiate sports, and athletes say they've seen an increase in social media abuse from bettors.

Indeed, sports betting is more popular and more accepted than ever before, but at what costs? It's a question that America, like other countries with legal betting, will be wrestling with for decades to come.

In the meantime, here's a by-the-numbers look at how the sports betting landscape has changed dramatically since the 2018 Supreme Court ruling, along some commentary and analysis from experts in the space.

By the Numbers: The evolution of sports betting in America

2: The number of states -- Nevada and, to a lesser extent, Delaware -- that offered regulated sports betting before the Supreme Court decision.

33: The number of states that have launched legal betting markets since the Supreme Court decision. The District of Columbia and Puerto Rico also have legal betting markets, and Kentucky, Maine and Nebraska have passed legislation and are gearing up to launch later this year.

1%: The approximate percentage of the U.S. population that had access to legal sportsbooks in their state before the Supreme Court decision.

57%: The approximate percentage of the U.S. population that has access to legal sportsbooks in their state currently. California, Texas and Florida -- the three most populated states -- have yet to launch betting markets.

$5 billion: The approximate amount bet with Nevada sports in 2018.

$220 billion: The amount wagered with U.S. sportsbooks since May 2018, according to the American Gaming Association.

$17.6 billion: The approximate total net win for U.S. sportsbooks since 2018. [Source: Chris Altruda, a sports betting reporter for Better Collective, who tracks the monthly revenue reports from states. @AlTruda73].

$3 billion: The amount of state and local taxes generated by sports betting since May 2018 [Source: American Gaming Association]

39.2 million: The number of American adults who placed a sports bet in the last 12 months. [Source: American Gaming Association].

$21.4 million: The estimated amount spent by sportsbook brands on national TV commercials in 2019, the first full year of expanded regulated sports betting. [Source: iSpotTV]

$314.6 million: The estimated amount spent by sportsbook brands on national TV ads in 2022. [Source: iSpotTV].

1,492: The number of contacts to Ohio's problem gambling hotline in January 2023, the first month the state offered a legal betting market. That's three times more than in January 2022. [Problem Gambling Network of Ohio]

0: The number of NFL players that were suspended for violating the league's gambling policy in the previous 10 years before the Supreme Court ruling.

7: The number of NFL players that were suspended for violating the league's gambling policy in the first five years since the Supreme Court ruling.

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