Sports Betting Laws in the US

official betting

Sports betting is booming in the US, with legal operations now operating in 30 states and Washington DC. As wagering on the games continues to expand, so do the battles over how much control the leagues will have over the markets in which they operate. The term official betting has come front and center as the primary issue in these fights, with the leagues seeking to impose data mandates on state-regulated operators, ideally with an integrity fee attached.

This quest for official data mandates has supplanted the leagues’ years-long opposition to gambling as their preferred way to shape US policy and profit from new legal sports betting markets. Having failed to win a direct cut of the total amount wagered, the leagues are trying to leverage their status as primary stakeholders in the new industry and gain a share of revenue from the market. The specific terms they seek vary by state, but the general idea is to ensure that sportsbooks pay for official data and only use this data when placing bets on their events.

The question of what constitutes official betting data is a murky one. A number of states have incorporated language that requires the use of official data for Tier 1 bets (which involve the final score or outcome of a game). However, a qualifier in Illinois and Tennessee refers to such data as being required “under commercially reasonable terms.” This suggests that these states are open to allowing operators to circumvent the data requirement if they can show that the initial data provided by the leagues isn’t available at competitive prices.

In addition to the standardized wagering lines for teams and individual players, sportsbooks also offer a variety of prop bets. These are bets on things that can happen during a game but don’t relate to the final result of the game. Prop bets can include things such as how long the national anthem will be during the Super Bowl, or what color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach at the end of a game.

Some of the earliest legal sportsbooks in the US were set up inside stadiums, including one at the Arizona Cardinals’ University of Phoenix Stadium. Sportsbooks are now available in a number of NFL stadiums and are expected to continue expanding into other MLB and NHL arenas. In fact, the Bears are reportedly looking at opening a sportsbook at their home stadium in 2022.

With the legalization of sports betting now underway, it’s likely that the number of US wagering sites will continue to rise rapidly, with many more fans finding access to online gambling than did prior to the Supreme Court decision in May 2018. This rapid growth presents a significant opportunity for states to collect revenue and regulate the industry, while maintaining consumer protections. It is important that states adopt and implement effective oversight policies to protect problem gambling, address the negative impact of betting on student-athletes and safeguard the integrity of NCAA competition.