What was once a mere fantasy for sports obsessives has become reality.
Less than two years after the U.S. Supreme Court passed down a decision permitting states to legalize sports betting through their own jurisdiction, 20 states and the nation’s capital now have sportsbooks up and running.
On top of that, five more states have legalized sports gambling in varying capacities and are working to make it operational. Morgan Stanley projects sports betting will be approved in as many as 35 states by the end of the year.
The industry is waiting with bated breath for the approval of legal betting in California. While its legality failed to materialize as a proposition on 2020 ballots, a new proposition backed by California’s indigenous tribes has already received more signatures than what’s needed to go before voters in 2022, pending verification from governing bodies.
Legalization, however, often comes with exceptions. For instance, legal sports betting has only been approved for tribal casinos in North Carolina, versus the entire state. New Hampshire and Tennessee are both online-only when it comes to legal betting, but in the former, state colleges are excluded from that rule.
Meanwhile, Mississippi only permits physical betting, while Arkansas, Delaware and New York exempt that rule for state colleges while adhering to it otherwise. Even more unique is Montana, which only allows mobile betting at on-site premises for legal gambling.
Virginia is the most recent state to permit live sportsbooks, but lawmakers had to submit additional legislation in order to clarify that five casinos require mobile sports betting licenses that don’t count against the state’s cap of 12 mobile licenses.
Even with the presence of operational or near-operational legal betting in half the country, the current leaders in revenue are clearly established.
One might wonder why a state with as much potential as New York is so far down the list, but current legislation confines legal betting there to just seven casinos. New Jersey (predominantly Atlantic City) is still a major hub for sports gambling.
Utah remains the unlikeliest state to permit legal gambling, due in large part to the beyond-the-grave efforts of one Joseph Smith, as Utah’s constitution specifically forbids all gambling for monetary compensation.
This article is an extension of Variety Intelligence Platform’s third special report on sports betting.