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Reflecting on post-PASPA world with 22 legal states and counting

May 15, 2020 01:09 AM

As bettors, our lives revolve around sports. We live, eat and breathe them. Our daily rhythm is defined by them. We set our schedules to the tune of kickoffs, tipoffs and first pitches. We spend countless hours researching games, handicapping matchups and sweating our action. For those of us lucky enough to be considered a pro or a sharp, betting is a profession. It's a livelihood and main source of income. For the rest of us (the vast majority), sports is an outlet. Betting on them is our passion. It's not just a hobby or a source of entertainment. It's who we are. Win, lose or push, we love having skin in the game.

The past few months have been rough for bettors. Our daily routines have been disrupted. There are no lines to check when we wake up in the morning. No games to look forward to at night. The pandemic-forced hiatus from the games we love has made us realize how much we miss sports. It feels like a piece of us is missing when there's nothing to bet on. The boredom. The monotony of daily life without a chance to escape and watch our favorite teams and root on our bets. 

One positive from the time off is that it has given us a chance to reflect. To reaffirm relationships with friends, family or significant others that we've neglected. To count our blessings and be thankful for all the other good things in our lives that we take for granted when we're too busy getting down. 

It also has given us the opportunity to take a step back and see the bigger picture.

Thursday marked the two-year anniversary of the most consequential decision in our sports betting lives: The day the Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting, known as PASPA, paving the way for the legalization of sports betting in dozens of states nationwide. From now on, May 14 will always be a national holiday for bettors.

In just two short years, the entire sports betting landscape has changed. Prior to the May 14, 2018 watershed decision, sports betting was restricted to primarily Las Vegas. But now we have 18 states with live, legalized sports betting: Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Delaware, Colorado, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Arkansas and West Virginia. 

Four more states (plus Washington DC) have legalized sports betting but are not yet up and running: Virginia, Washington, Tennessee and North Carolina. 

Three more states could legalize in 2020. Sports betting is on the ballot in November in Maryland. It is also under consideration this year by state legislatures in Massachusetts and Ohio. In total, more than a dozen states have active sports betting bills that they're considering. 

Since PASPA was overturned in 2018, more than $20 billion has been bet with US sportsbooks, according to ESPN's David Purdum. 

One of the biggest takeaways so far is the massive popularity and success of mobile betting. States that allow mobile betting via smartphone have seen a massive increase in action. In New Jersey, which has become the "Beast of the East" and the new East-coast Vegas, nearly 90% of all money wagered came online. 

With sports betting legalization sweeping the nation, many bettors have wondered what will happen to the global market. For decades, "offshore" sportsbooks reigned supreme since there was nowhere else outside of Vegas to place a bet. Many have predicted their demise with so many more legal options in a post-PASPA world. However, don't expect them to shut down any time soon. 

The vast betting public will open an account through DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM or any other legal book that opens and advertises in their states. However, sharps will continue to use offshore books to their advantage, namely shopping for the best line and having an additional "out." If they offer better numbers or lower juice, they will always have wiseguys knocking on their door to get down. 

The pandemic has been hard on all of us. And sports bettors can't wait to get back to normal. When the virus dissipates and the games return, we'll all breathe a sigh of relief and get back to sweating games like we used to. Who knows, maybe a few more states will legalize by the time all the major sports return. 

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