Most Sports Betting is Online, As More States Plan to Go Mobile

More than 80 percent of legal sports betting in the US is done online. That could go higher, as a half dozen more states are expected to approve online wagering this year.

Bettors at sportsbook
Bettors at sportsbook
Two customers view the odds on live games at a casino sportsbook. Most sports betting in the country now occurs on mobile devices, not at sportsbooks. (Image: CBS Sports)

In 2019, a panel of experts at the East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City predicted 90 percent of legal sports betting in the country would be done online in five to 10 years.

Only two years after that panel discussion, 90 percent is within range. Nationally, 81 percent of bets on live sporting events are done online, the Associated Press reported this month.

The number keeps going up. In New Jersey, 92 percent of sports wagering occurred on smartphones or computers last year. New Jersey is the nation’s largest sports-betting market. In the first two months of this year, online betting has accounted for 85 percent of all sports wagering nationally.

Rush Street Interactive CEO Mattias Stetz told the Associated Press that 87 percent of his company’s sports bets are conducted online, even in markets where online and in-person betting are available.

“Sports fans are enjoying the option of betting from the comfort of their homes,” he said.

Mobile Sports Betting Expands 

Gaming consultant Chris Krafcik said 20 to 23 states could have mobile sports betting by the end of this year. He is managing director of Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, based in Irvine, Calif.

Right now, online gaming is legal in 14 states and Washington, D.C. The states are New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Tennessee, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon.

Several more states could authorize online sports betting in 2021, Krafcik said. These are Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Ohio, and Louisiana.

In New York, mobile sports betting could be up and running next year. Earlier this month, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) signed legislation authorizing in-person and mobile sports betting in the state.

Nationwide, 21 states and Washington, D.C. have some form of active legal sports betting, either in-person at casino sportsbooks or online — or both.

Tennessee is an example of a state that allows online wagering, but does not have casinos. The opposite is true in two of its neighboring states. Arkansas and Mississippi allow waging at casino sportsbooks, but neither state permits online wagering.

Tax Earnings Low

The National Conference of State Legislatures last month noted in a report that potential tax revenue is “a big selling point for legalizing sports betting in many states.”

While states view that tax revenue as helpful, especially during a pandemic-related downturn, the money is not always a massive windfall. 

On average, sportsbooks only keep 7.2 percent of the total money bet on sporting events, the Associated Press reported. The rest is paid to winning bettors. Taxes are assessed on the amount sportsbooks keep, not the total that bettors wager.

In Michigan, for instance, bettors wagered $302 million in February. After paying winning gamblers, the sportsbooks kept $9.5 million. The state received $142,240 in taxes, the AP reported. 

States without mobile sports betting received even less.  

Competition from other states could cut into the amount each state already receives, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures report.

“States looking to close budget gaps with sports betting revenue may be disappointed,” the report notes, “especially as more and more states legalize and take their slice of the market.”

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