Last updated on: August 29th, 2022
How Much Money Do Americans Bet On Sports?
If you’re a sports bettor, chances are good that you want to know how big the US betting industry actually is. But when it comes to finding out how much money Americans bet on sports each year, you won’t really get a solid or accurate picture by doing a quick Internet search. After all, only legal land-based and domestic online sports wagering is actually tracked and tabulated. The vast majority of betting, of course, is handled by black market vendors and legal offshore sportsbooks (neither of whom are compelled to divulge their numbers). With the growing number of legal sports betting options for 2022 in the US, their reported numbers – while still below what many believe to be an accurate figure – are beginning to be truly representative of the true handle turned by US sports bettors each year.
Over 60% of US residents identify as sports fans, but not all of them wager on sports. The closest metric we have to go on about how many people bet on sports – and thus how much money Americans bet on sports – is to use as a baseline the only long-running sports wagering mecca: Las Vegas (or Nevada, more generally). With PASPA gone, of course, NV is merely the best baseline, not the only one. However, given its more mature commercial sports betting market, it’s the easiest state from which to divine out some workable figures (though we will also discuss other states’ sports wagering markets below).
Each year, the Nevada Gaming Control Board NGCB puts out its report of exactly how much handle and revenue sportsbooks in the state account for. If we take the total sports wagering handle in NV and divide it by the total NV casino traffic, that should give us – at the very least – a picture of how much money each gambler wagers on sports (or would wager on sports, given reasonable proximity to a sportsbook). This per capita method is an inexact exercise, and the margin of error is obviously going to be huge. But at least it gives us something to work off of.
How Much Money Is Bet On Sports In Nevada?
Nevada is the gambling capital of the United States. However, Nevada’s total betting handle was $1,560,395 lower than New Jersey for the first time in May 2019. In 2022, Nevada has also been topped by the legal New York sports betting market, thanks to their launch of mobile betting. March 2022 watched over $860 million bet at Nevada sportsbooks. Though this number seems impressive, it was still very short of New York’s $1.6 billion handle during the same time span.
With the NFL season as the top betting sport at Bovada, there is an unknown amount of wagers that Bovada receives. Estimated in the multi-billions on the NFL season alone, the betting handle at Bovada is this high because of the man years of reliable online sports betting experience they possess. Betting on the NFL at Bovada is easy, as they offer thousands of lines every day. Sign up to increase their betting handle, and be another person to see why its the best to bet on football at Bovada.
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How Much Money Is Bet On Sports In Other States?
All US sportsbooks generated $4.29 billion in combined revenue in 2021 on $57.2 billion in handle, excluding tribal-run sportsbooks). Many states recorded high handles in January of 2022, preparing for Super Bowl 57.
How Is So Much Money Bet On Sports?
Sports betting is a popular hobby throughout the country but as each state moves forward with its legalization and launch, it becomes clearer just exactly how many Americans bet on sports. Sports betting is seen to be a $150 billion industry and this is assumed to be a conservative estimate. Once PASPA was overturned and state sports betting laws were passed, the industry was brought out of the black market and into the limelight. Roughly 50% of US residents are projected to live in a state that has launched legal sports betting by the year 2024. As of now, over a quarter of US residents live in a legal sports betting state and this number is expected to rapidly jump if and when one or all of the three most-populated states (California, Texas, Florida) legalize their industry.
Who Is The US Sports Betting Leader?
New York currently sits as the leader for sports betting handle and revenue for 2022. It took NY little time to dominate the US market, launching in January 2022 and immediately surpassing New Jersey, which held the top spot since 2019, and Nevada, which was the only game in town for over 20 years. New York went six consecutive months of raking in over $1 billion in bets, seeing $9.3 billion wagered in its first half year. This is more than the total combined bets of all active states during the first full year of regulated betting in the US.
How Much Money Is Bet On The NFL & College Football?
Football is the most popular sport in the United States, and consequently, it sees the largest influx of sports betting fans every year. The Super Bowl and NFL season alone outperform every other sport for sports betting operations each year, with college football events also seeing massive action at online sportsbooks. Those betting on the NFL are typically active week to week, meaning steady action for the sportsbook operators. An estimated $100 billion is wagered at licensed sportsbooks during the NFL season, with billions wagered on the Super Bowl LV alone in the US. While not as popular as the NFL, NCAA College Football games still generate hundreds of millions for sportsbook operators throughout the year. The American Gaming Association predicted more than 45.2 million Americans bet on the 2021 NFL season and expect a further increase in 2022.
How Much Money Was Bet On Super Bowl 56?
Billions of dollars are bet on the Super Bowl every year and that was certainly the case again for Super Bowl 56. Super Bowl 56 featured far more states with legal sports betting, which means the expected handle is higher. The American Gaming Association estimated $7.61 billion was bet on Super Bowl 56 with roughly 31 million people betting on the game. It is difficult to estimate the true amount of wagers because a good portion of bets come on online sportsbooks such as Bovada due to how much more they offer than state-regulated books, and these books do not report profits.
Which Sportsbook Takes In The Most Sports Betting Money?
The top sportsbook in the US is FanDuel. FanDuel is live in the most markets across the country and rakes in billions in betting handle on a monthly basis across its sportsbooks. In 2021, a list of market share by sportsbook was released.
- FanDuel 36%
- DraftKings 24%
- BetMGM 15%
- Caesars 7%
- Barstool 4%
- BetRivers/SugarHouse 4%
- PointsBet 4%
- All Others 6%
How Much Is Bet On The NBA
The amount wagered on individual NBA games varies depending on how popular the teams involved are and how important the game is. The NBA Finals is the accumulation of the full NBA season and NBA betting fans wager on these 4-7 games more than any other NBA event throughout the year. After the Super Bowl and March Madness, the NBA Finals sees the most money wagered at online sportsbooks – estimates place the Finals at more than $5 million wagered per game at Las Vegas books alone, meaning that the real amount wagered on it could be far more.
How Much Is Bet On Baseball?
As America’s pastime, baseball is one of the most popular sports to bet on. Sportsbooks around the world that cater to U.S. players handle billions of dollars in wagers, the vast majority of which are for Major League Baseball. Betting on MLB is a big business that accounts for hundreds of millions of dollars in sports betting revenue and millions in sports betting taxes. The majority of this money is still wagered with international online sportsbooks, although with more states legalizing sports betting every year, a greater percentage is going toward state-licensed operators.
Betting On The NHL
Betting on the NHL took off when Las Vegas Golden Knights were introduced to the league in 2017 and has continued to grow as states have started to legalize sports betting in greater numbers. While sports betting was and continues to be available in every state via offshore betting shops, increased regulation has brought increased attention to the sector. Hockey was estimated to have the sixth highest share in the sports betting market globally, behind football, basketball, baseball, horse racing and cricket. The NHL itself expects to see a boost of more than $200 million based on increased interest generated by sports betting.
State Sports Betting Revenues
Please note that depending on the reporting standards of each state’s gaming commission, these figures may be months behind. The most current numbers as published by each state’s linked gaming commission have been used in each case and are accurate as of the end of 2021. The numbers for states with vendor fees paid out by the state (as in DE) are listed minus those vendor fees. For a more detailed monthly revenue breakdown, visit the Legal Sports Betting revenue tracker.
2018: $115.3 million handle, $21.2 million revenue
2019: $132.4 million handle, $25.8 million revenue
2020: $90.2 million handle, $23.5 million revenue
2021: $93.6 million handle, $18.8 million revenue
2018: $157.1 million handle, $15.1 million revenue
2019: $369.2 million handle, $44.5 million revenue
2020: $363.7 million handle, $43.7 million revenue
2021: $529.2 million handle, $62.6 million revenue
2018: $3.0 billion handle, $193.9 million revenue
2019: $5.3 billion handle, $329.0 million revenue
2020: $4.2 billion handle, $260.1 million revenue
2021: $7.1 billion handle, $429.1 million revenue
2018: $1.2 billion handle, $94.1 million revenue
2019: $4.5 billion handle, $301.2 million revenue
2020: $6.0 billion handle, $398.5 million revenue
2021: $9.7 billion handle, $756.9 million revenue
New Mexico sports wagering is only available at a pair of tribal venues, and they are not bound to report earnings to the state on a monthly basis. As such, there is no official data describing the sports betting numbers in the state to date.
2018: $13.7 million handle, $1.0 million revenue
2019: $245.8 million handle, $17.8 million revenue
2020: $221.9 million handle, $34.0 million revenue
2021: $399.5 million handle, $37.5 million revenue
2018: $17.5 million handle, $2.5 million revenue
2019: $1.4 billion handle, $103.2 million revenue
2020: $3.5 billion handle, $189.7 million revenue
2021: $5.8 billion handle, $396.0 million revenue
2018: $46.4 million handle, $6.5 million revenue
2019: $226.0 million handle, $18.6 million revenue
2020: $392.4 million handle, $26.4 million revenue
2021: $486.9 million handle, $42.8 million revenue
* New Mexico sports wagering is only available at a pair of tribal venues, and they are not bound to report earnings to the state on a monthly basis. As such, there is no official data describing the sports betting numbers in the state to date.
** Arkansas took its first sports bets on July 1, 2019. No financial data has yet been released by the Arkansas Racing Commission.
*** Oregon does not publicly disclose sports betting financial data, but representatives did send out a press release with their updated projections for the fiscal year.
Potential Sports Betting In California
With two separate sports betting initiatives on the ballot in California, there is a very real possibility that the most populated state in the US regulates sports betting. Comparing CA to other large states shows that there may be potential for hundreds of millions of dollars in annual tax revenue to be made. Of course, that number may eventually climb if a new initiative were to ever include a tax rate of greater than 15%, which is well below New York’s (the most populated state with legal sports betting) tax rate of 51%.
How Many Americans Are Betting On Sports?
Sports betting has ballooned in popularity in the years following the repeal of PASPA, the federal ban on states regulating sports betting. As more states create their own sports betting markets, more Americans wager on sports every year. Super Bowl 55 alone saw more than 33 million Americans wager on the single event according to the American Gaming Association. Those are just the betting numbers for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the US. Throughout the year, however, millions of Americans bet on major sporting events from March Madness to the NBA, MLB, and NHL seasons to tennis grand slam events and so forth. Sports betting has become synonymous with sports in the US and betting fans have grown in population each year. The trajectory shows that even more Americans will be betting on sports in the years to come.
Money Spent On Sports Betting By Americas Via Offshore Sportsbooks
If we extrapolate the above NV numbers and apply them to the entire country, they’re actually not that high. Given that 80% or so of US adults – or about 198,000,000 people – actively gamble (including playing lotteries, which complicates things less than one might think, given the ease of access to legal offshore sportsbooks), we can plug in the sports-betting-handle-per-person figure from before ($118.71), giving us $23.5 billion as a total.
But there’s a snag. Everyone – even the top Vegas bookmakers and casino CEOs – admit sports betting in Sin City is not particularly representative of sports betting in the rest of the country. Indeed, it costs quite a lot of money to get to Las Vegas to place your wagers in the first place, dramatically limiting the number of people who opt to place wagers this way. So that $23.5 billion number? If you’re really curious to find out how much money is spent on sports betting by Americans via offshore sportsbooks (and local underground means), the American Gaming Association says to multiply it by about 6.7.
That’s right: Las Vegas, even in processing astronomical handles like the above, only accounts for about 3% of the total US sports betting handle. Thus, we multiply Vegas’ yearly handle of $5 billion by 33, giving us $165 billion. Of course, there are reputable analysts that claim this figure, too, is too low, doubling or even tripling it when answering the question of how much money the US spends on sports wagering. It’s kind of a moot point, though, as it doesn’t really matter if the US spends $165 billion or $495 billion on sports betting. The only thing that matters from a social economics perspective is that most of that money is being sent underground or overseas, where it isn’t taxed as it would be in the legal sports betting states. By any measure, over the last 25 years or so (from PASPA’s advent to its ultimate demise), the federal and state governments have lost out on trillions of dollars in taxable expenditures. Trillions. With a “T”.
Where Does The Sports Betting Money Go
Most of the money in any sportsbook goes back to bettors in the form of winnings. After paying the winners, the remaining cash – i.e. the house take or vigorish – goes to several different places. With a regulated US sportsbook, the house will get its take (between 4% and 6% of the handle, typically), which is then taxed at various rates depending on the state where the sportsbook operates. Gaming taxes are then used to fund state and local programs (usually something to do with roads or education), which is why many proponents of sports betting view gaming as a way to improve local infrastructure.
Money Spent By Americans On Unregulated Sports Betting
Though there is a negative connotation behind the term “black market sports betting”, it does not deter millions of Americans from betting on their favorite sports. The bottom line is that most of what the US gambling industry describes as unlawful is, in fact, 100% legal. There are no laws in any state against using offshore sportsbooks, and the sites are so big and so popular that most people already forego engaging with unlicensed local bookies and black-market sharks to use these trusted, legitimate sports betting sites.
Honestly, while analyzing how much money Americans bet on sports is interesting from a mathematical and observational standpoint, the real question is: How much money can you win at a legal online sportsbook? And the answer… a lot!
State Gambling Revenue Allocation
|Arizona||General fund, focused on regulating sports betting|
|Arkansas||General fund, focus on city and regional governments|
|Colorado||State water plan is main recipient, as well as other public services|
|Connecticut||Money from tribal casinos goes to consumer protection|
|Delaware||General fund and race purses|
|Illinois||Infrastructure projects such as rec centers and schools|
|Indiana||General fund and problem gambling treatment|
|Louisiana||Paying bond liabilities, early childhood education, redistribution to parishes,|
|Maryland||To assist with diversity in sports wagering as well as education reforms|
|Michigan||School aid fund, firefighters with cancer|
|Mississippi||Mississippi Dept. of Revenue allocates the revenue towards government projects|
|Nebraska||Property tax relief and local governments, in that order|
|Nevada||General fund, with a focus on health and education services|
|New Jersey||Casino Revenue Fund|
|New York||Education, local government, property tax relief|
|Oregon||Money pays down state’s public pension liability|
|Rhode Island||General fund|
|South Dakota||Education receives about 45%, the rest goes to other projects|
|Tennessee||Education, local government, problem gambling treatment|
|Virginia||2.5% to problem gambling, the rest to the general fund|
|Washington||Tribes pay money to state for oversight, money not specifically allocated.|
|West Virginia||Benefits to public employees|
|Wyoming||Problem gambling treatment, then general fund|
Outlook on Sports Betting Revenue In The US
As more states start to legalize and regulate sports betting, the revenue generated by the national sports gambling market will continue to grow. The future of sports betting in the United States is on an upward trend. More than 60% of the states in the United States have legalized sports betting in some capacity and with more room for the country to grow it’s expected that the United States will soon eclipse the United Kingdom as the sports betting Mecca of the world. The biggest boost still to come is that the US will be getting more money out of sports betting revenue, especially once states like Florida and California allow residents to bet on sports.
Sports Betting Milestones
- Arizona broke the $4 billion level for totals bets taken in.
- New York has six straight months of at least a $1b handle.
- Louisiana and Connecticut both have recorded $1b it total bets received.
New States That Wasted No Time
- Wyoming – Launched in September of 2021, and recorded $1,104,236 in revenue for March 2022.
- Arizona – Also launched in September of 2021, and reported a January 2022 handle of $563,694,591, with a 7.43% state hold.
- Louisiana – Had its first month of state regulated betting in November of 2021, and has seen consistently high handles, recording $208,255,060, for April 2022.
- Maryland – As the newest state to have state regulated betting, Maryland and has welcomed state sports betting, with a revenue of $3,927,573 for April 2022.
- Connecticut – Even though sports betting has only been regulated since October 2021, sportsbooks saw a handle of $140,747,137 in January 2022.
- South Dakota – Being new to the game, South Dakota has been accepting state sports bets since September of 2021, with increasingly higher handles, including April 2022’s $9,995,920.