The Most Popular Sports Industry 

What’s the score? Are you ready for some football? Okay, how about a bit of gambling? It is estimated that 47 million Americans will wager on Thursday night’s opening game of the NFL season.

That number will skyrocket when the MLB postseason, NBA, and NHL all start later this month and into October.

The sports betting industry loves this time of year because it’s when four of the most popular sports in the United States are being shown on television. On total wagers of $57.22 billion last year, the industry made $4.29 billion.

As of June 30th, sports betting has generated $3.04 billion in revenue, setting a pace that is sure to break the annual record set in 2017. According to Morgan Stanley, sales might reach $7 billion by 2025. Between $6 billion and $10 billion is the range that several other estimates in the business world put up.

Quality-wise, the industry is booming in unexpected areas: The Washington Post now provides a resource for those interested in wagering on sporting events. ESPN has devoted entire shows to the topic of betting and odds. 

A delicate balance of power and emotion is at the heart of the future of sports betting in America.

From billboards to jersey sponsors to the endorsements of Hollywood’s A-list, sports betting advertising is big business.

Lia Nower, director of the Center for Gambling Studies at Rutgers University, has noted that while more states strive to legalize sports betting like, no legal action has been taken to safeguard gamblers or prevent its growth. 

Interestingly, the league set a single rule, limiting sports betting advertisements during games to a maximum of six. 

Regarding advertising, restrictions have been put in place in the past. Commercials for alcoholic beverages that depict real consumption are allowed under federal law but are restricted by television networks, according to Armbruster. And tobacco advertising remains illegal on American television under federal law.

Gambling-related speech has historically been governed by federal law. 

While certain states can prohibit or restrict sports betting advertisements, the federal government does not regulate such promotions. Soon, sportsbooks in Ohio will not use the term “risk-free” unless they can provide evidence to support such a claim.

Unfortunately, many governments have not yet taken action on this issue, which Fong warns is especially risky because these ads focus on providing “immediate satisfaction” rather than promoting a particular product.

Not only does the identity of the spokesperson make a difference in advertising, but the words themselves. The number of athletes signing contracts with sportsbooks has increased dramatically, and fans have taken note. 

BetMGM has Wayne Gretzky as an official brand representative. Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice, Bryson DeChambeau, and Bubba Wallace are just some athletes who have endorsement relationships with DraftKings.

Mobile sports betting, while more limited, nonetheless provides convenient access to the market.

Experts agree that mobile apps like DraftKings and FanDuel make sports betting convenient and addicting. These apps attract new users with enticing welcome bonuses (such as “First bet up to $200 free”), allow for wager customizations unavailable at traditional sportsbooks (such as parlays and prop bets), and store users’ payment information for future use.

New Jersey, which led the charge to repeal PASPA and is in a permanent three-way tie for most sports betting revenue with Nevada and New York, sees 60% of all wagers put on mobile devices. According to Nower, between 50 and 85 percent of mobile bets are losers in states where mobile betting is legal.

The average age of sports gamblers has been a central topic of discussion in mobile betting. A “top-priority concern in our study field,” Fong says, is understanding how the dopamine rush of gambling relates to the pleasure receptors stimulated by mobile devices, especially among sports bettors, who tend to be younger than other gamblers.

Nower doesn’t expect any business slowdown because of the expanding technology infrastructure and the financial motivation for authorities to allow mobile betting rather than a ban. State tax revenue from mobile betting apps is expected to bring in $650 million to New York this year, making it the top-earning state for mobile betting.

According to Nower’s research on bettors under the age of 35 (including parents and minor children who share accounts), “young people who are being prepared to gamble” are “now inexorably linked” to halftime show scripts, broadcasts, and on-screen tickers with betting odds.

Famous YouTuber and social media influencer Jake Paul introduced a new app called Betr in August, with the goal of “TikTok-ifying” (making more accessible to younger audiences) the world of sports betting. Betting on social media content, such as cameos and athletes’ tips, is central to his plan.

Even though it’s more challenging to obtain, mobile sports betting is convenient.

Nower believes sports betting, particularly mobile betting, is here to stay due to how deeply embedded and accepted they have become in American sports culture.

Nower remarked that breaking one’s allegiance to a particular sports team would be difficult because “there is so much family history, pride, and loyalty engrained in people for different sports teams.”

This urgency, according to Nower, is due to the development of live, in-game betting enabled by smartphone apps. It used to be illegal to keep betting lines active and changing during games, but that is no longer the case.