Record levels of legalized sports betting spark expansion interest in California & Texas

Record levels of legalized sports betting spark expansion interest in California & Texas

In a remarkable surge, the United States’ sports betting industry is set to break all-time records this year, as industry experts have projected a staggering $100 billion in sports betting handle across the thirty-seven states that currently allow this leisure activity. The aforementioned estimated figure of sports betting handle marks a substantial jump from the $93.2 billion recorded in 2022. The surge is further highlighted by six states passing legislation or launching sportsbooks, contributing to the flourishing landscape of legal sports betting in the country.

While the impetus is undeniable, the absence of legalized sports betting in the country’s two most populous states, California and Texas, casts a shadow on the industry's full potential. Remarkably, California faced a setback last year when a gaming legalization ballot failed to get approval. Baird Fogel, a legal expert in the lucrative sports betting industry, emphasizes that Native Indian tribes played a pivotal role in supporting such legislative efforts, citing fruitful arrangements in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Underscoring the significance of proactive engagement with tribes, Fogel suggested that the tax revenue potential in California is very high, with casinos already generating approximately $9 billion per annum. Fogel envisions a transformative impact on the state’s revenue if sports betting was allowed from the comfort of consumers’ homes via mobile devices.

On the other hand, the path to legal sports betting in the state of Texas appears to be fraught with a number of challenges. In spite of substantial financial support, including millions of dollars in donations from casino mogul Miriam Adelson, Texas’ Republican-dominated legislature resisted efforts to legalize sports betting legislation. Bill Miller, a consultant to the Republican Party, acknowledged the challenging path ahead by stating that the Republican electorate currently holds control in Texas and is not particularly fond of casino gaming. He stressed on the need for patience and financial stability to confirm long-term success.

Miller added: “Over time, gaming is going to come to Texas in all versions. Casinos will be the last version. You have to have patience and you have to have money. You have to have the financial standing to stay in the game.”

As many more states, including Georgia and Missouri, are poised to explore sports betting legislation in 2024, market experts underscore the urgency of regulating gambling activities, even in states where the leisure activity is currently unregulated.

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