How Sports Betting Has Changed Over The Years


Alex W



Huge sports fan. Football & MLS fanatic. Lover of all things gambling - Sports betting, Casino, Poker and of course, Las Vegas.

Sports betting has a long history in the United States, dating back to the early 19th century when betting on horses was the most popular thing to do among gamblers.

Back then, bettors would visit their local sportsbooks and place a wager on their favorite team. However, during the early days of sports betting, the industry was mired in controversy as teams would often be persuaded to throw games. For example, eight players on the Chicago White Sox were bribed into fixing the 1919 World Series. Betting in sports has always had a question mark against it ever since.

It wasn’t until 1931 that gambling was legalized, with Nevada becoming the first state to accept legal sports wagers. This led to Las Vegas quickly becoming established as one of the only legitimate places to bet on sports in the US.

Sports gambling became big business in the US in the 1970s when Congress lowered the 10% tax on sports bets that bookmakers had to pay. Since then, more states have decided to introduce sports betting as lawmakers recognized the potential revenue the activity could generate. However, this prompted the government to develop a legal means to stop the expansion of sports betting across America. The result was lawmakers creating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA).

This prohibited sports betting in the US, except in the four states that had already established legal sports betting operations. Consequently, sports gambling went into a lull until a decision by the Supreme Court in 2018 changed everything. Sports betting in the US is only growing. Figures suggest that close to 50% of adults in the US made a sports bet at least once in their life, and that this year, the sports betting revenue forecast will top over $2.5 billion.

This article looks at how sports betting in America has changed in the last few years. We cover online sports betting, mobile betting, types of bets, and more. Punters may be surprised just how far sports betting in the US has come, with more development still expected.

The Repeal Of PASPA Changed The Game

On May 14, 2018, the US Supreme Court removed a federal statute that stood for 26 years. This legislation restricted regulated sports betting to primarily Las Vegas. Up until recently, major league baseball and other sports leagues such as the NFL claimed sports bettors and operators would cause severe damage to sports if other states were allowed to participate in gambling.

Since that landmark ruling three years ago, all the major professional leagues have official betting partners, and sports betting is more widespread than ever.

New Jersey sports betting started the revolution, becoming the first state to really accept sports betting and promote it vigorously. On June 11, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law legalizing sports betting at casinos and racetracks within the Garden State. The first online sports bet was taken in August 2018. Last year, 17 legal online sportsbooks were licensed by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, highlighting how quickly the industry has grown in the state.

This rapid growth is reflected in the sports betting handle across numerous states. For example, in New Jersey, gamblers bet a record $6 billion with nearly $1billion bet in December 2020 alone. Other states have seen equally impressive numbers, with Michigan posting $302 million in online betting handle during its first whole month of operation. To put that into perspective to show how rapidly the industry is growing, in 2019, Nevada handled a total of $5.32 billion in sports bets for the entire year.

All of this should come as no surprise considering the sheer amount of betting sites and sports available to bet on nowadays. During the first few months of legal online sports betting, customers were restricted to betting on American sports such as football, basketball, and baseball. However, as the market has matured, there are more options than ever. Football continues to be the most popular sport for customers to wager on and it’s only going to get more popular. During the regular NFL season, it’s anticipated that bettors will wager over $100 billion in the licensed sports betting market alone.

Now, when you sign up at an online sportsbook, you can wager on sports from around the world, including soccer, rugby, cricket, cycling, table tennis, and more. Users can even request odds for niche sports or events that may not be listed on the website. There have never been more betting markets available for people to try and win some money.

By 2025, sports betting revenue in the US is anticipated to reach 8 billion U.S. dollars.

How sports betting has evolved in the US

Mobile Wagering & Sports Betting Apps

As online sports betting was legalized in America in 2018, it was inevitable that operators would then launch sports betting apps. Most people these days prefer doing things on their mobile devices, whether that be ordering a pizza, groceries, or paying for a service. Rather than restricting customers to a desktop site, gaming companies created apps that would allow bettors to gamble on the go.

These apps have been optimized for mobile use and include all of the features you would expect to find on a desktop site. Users can bet on an NFL game while standing in a queue in a store or on their daily commute on public transport. Mobile apps have revolutionized betting, allowing people speed and efficiency, which are valuable commodities in society today.

The popularity of mobile betting is highlighted by the fact that New Jersey’s sports betting action nearly matched Nevada’s during its first year, primarily thanks to its mobile footprint, which accounted for 86.5% of a record $562.7 million wagered in November 2019.

Retail sportsbooks remain popular; however, convenience means more and more players are choosing to bet from home or on the move via mobile apps. Additionally, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced even more people to wager online. Retail sportsbooks and casinos were forced to close their doors, so the only way people could get their gambling fix was to sign up at an online sportsbook. This is emphasized when you look at the visitor numbers to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas. In 2019, Vegas attracted 42 million people; however, that number fell sharply last year, as 19 million visitors flocked to the strip.

Innovative Features

With the advances made in technology, naturally, new innovative features are available to the average sports bettor who signs up and downloads an app. Some of the most popular features of sports betting sites are mentioned below and are available at all of the best sports betting operators.


Cash-out or ‘cashing out’ involved settling your bets early and, as mentioned above, is available on almost all of the best betting sites. Before the advent of cashing out, the way wagering worked was straightforward. You placed your bet, and when the market was settled, you either won or lost. However, cash out changed the game.

Users now have the option to take their money before the wager was settled. Consequently, if your wager looks likely to lose, you can now save some of your losses. Additionally, punters can also place a cash-out bet when winning and receive more than your stake but less money than your return.

Features such as cash-out mean betting on sports has more options open to the user than ever. It removes some of the pressure if you know you can get at least some money back from a losing bet.

Live Betting

Live betting is also referred to as in-play betting. It is the process of placing a bet on a sporting event after it has started. For example, you can wager on different aspects of an NFL match after the first punt and throughout the duration.

It removes the need to research statistics and places you in the thick of the action, allowing you to change your bet or place a new one during the event. It is a straightforward process. An online sportsbook will have set odds for a match before it takes place. These odds will frequently change after the event starts, depending on what happens.

For example, if the Seattle Seahawks were odds-on favorites before the match but the San Francisco 49ers go up 14-0, the odds will change to reflect this. Therefore, a person wanting to get on the Seahawks will get better odds than they would have if they bet before the match started.

Live Streaming

Live streaming allows players to watch their favorite sports as they happen. In the past, punters could only watch those sports that were screened on satellite and terrestrial TV, which meant they were restricted. Consequently, you would have to read about the event you wagered on when it finished.

However, nowadays, online sportsbooks stream thousands of events every year, giving users the chance to watch the action live. bet365 streaming service is set to be one of the biggest and most popular in the US when more sports are available to view in the future. Additionally, bettors can use live betting in conjunction with live streaming so they can bet and react to what is happening. All of this adds to the excitement of the wagering experience.

Customers Have Become More Savvy

Not only has the technology become more clever and advanced, so too have the customers. Because the online sports betting market has become so competitive, operators must offer attractive bonuses and promotions to attract new customers to their platform. This means players benefit from incentives such as risk-free bets and matched deposit offers and use them to their advantage.

Bettors have become adept at using these offers to increase their bankroll substantially. For example, the more savvy users will keep hold of coupons that offer free bets for a sport they are interested in. The gambling industry keeps users coming back with promises of free money; customers have learned how to take advantage of these promises. A lot of operators make offers more attractive by bundling them with sportsbook promo codes and bonus codes.

States With Legal Sports Betting

After New Jersey led the way following the Supreme Court victory in May 2018, any state has the opportunity to legalize sports betting if they wish. Numerous state lawmakers have watched on with envy as neighbors have generated vast amounts of revenue from sports wagering. The current list of states with a legal sports betting market is:

In addition to the list above, several states are moving towards the legalization of sports betting. For example, Florida approved a tribal-state gaming compact which means mobile and retail sports betting could become legal there in 2021. Other states currently in the midst of creating legislation include Ohio.

Virtual Sports

Betting on virtual sports is an excellent way to place wagers if the sports you enjoy betting on are out of season. Virtual sports are computer-generated sports matchups that are already pre-determined thanks to an advanced algorithm. The idea is that they replicate what a real sport would look like but in a much quicker way. Instead of wagering on a baseball game that could last for hours, you can bet on one that is finished within minutes.

Additionally, the graphics on virtual sports are also realistic. They stand up well to watching a sports-based video game on the latest consoles. Legal betting on virtual sports became widespread thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone was relying on virtual sports for entertainment. Bettors grasped this opportunity to place large bets on virtual games and virtual matchups in a legal environment.

What Next For US Sports Betting?

Sports betting in the United States has become embedded and certainly more mainstream in society. With is reflected in the partnerships between professional sports leagues and teams with betting companies. Over the last year, numerous deals have been struck between operators and sports organizations. Some of these include:

League/Team Betting Partner

MLB MGM Resorts, FanDuel, DraftKings, Fox Bet

NFL Caesars

New York Jets (NFL) MGM Resorts, 888 Casino

Dallas Cowboys (NFL) WinStar Casino

The fact that these sports organizations are willing to put their name against sports betting companies confirms that sports betting is not regarded as taboo anymore. However, casinos and poker still remain somewhat behind. There is no doubt that legalizing online casino games is more challenging than sports betting in the US.

There is no such issue with sports wagering. As revenues continue to increase, legal sports betting in the US is only heading in one direction, and that is up.