University of Minnesota Student News

Gambling in the United States at an All-Time High

February 16, 2022

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There is no arguing the fact that Americans love to gamble their money to potentially win astronomical payouts.  Last year, the U.S. hit a record-high $53 billion in gambling revenue.  While the average American thinks of gambling as going to the Las Vegas strip and putting their money directly on the roulette table, the past time has grown to become much bigger than that.

Sports gambling has surged in popularity since the start of the pandemic.  Sports gamblers feel an even higher sense of excitement when watching games that they put massive amounts of their hard-earned money on.  Once frowned upon in major sports, sports gambling has become legalized state by state and has grown the gambling industry substantially.

Currently, 18 states have legal online sports gambling.  Some of the largest online sports bookies include FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM.  In addition, 10 states have sports betting legal only at physical sportsbooks.  With many states having some sort of legalized sports betting, 17 states have sports betting still outlawed.  Minnesota is still one of the states that considers sports gambling to be illegal.

Just because nearly half of the United States has sports gambling outlawed, does not mean that it doesn’t occur in the outlawed states.  Many bookies have turned to creating their own books under the table and finding ways to pay their gamblers through cryptocurrency and other forms of payments.

The attraction for Americans to sports gambling is the highest it has ever been in 2021.  American’s alone wagered $57.22 billion on sports alone.  On top of that, the 2022 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals, was the biggest sports gambling event of the year, and attracted an estimated $7.6 billion in wagers.

With the massive amounts of money being placed on one single football game, there is a lot to be won, but a lot to be lost, as well.  Superstar rapper, Drake, bet $1.25 million on the Super Bowl and came out with a $300,000 profit.  Those winnings could have been even more if Ram’s wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. didn’t suffer a game-ending injury.  The bets that Drake placed included $470,000 for the Rams to win the Super Bowl to pay out $700,000, $390,000 on Odell Beckham Jr. to score an anytime touchdown to win $840,000, and finally $390,000 on Beckham Jr. to record 62.5 or more yards to win $700,000.  Drake came out on top on his first two bets but lost his third bet because of injury.

While Drake came out as a winner on his bets, some high rolling bettors lost even more money.  Owner of Mattress Warehouse and prominent sports bettor, Jim McIngvale, known as “Mattress Mack” lost big on the Super Bowl.  It was reported that Mattress Mack lost $9.5 million on the Cincinnati Bengals to win the Super Bowl.  While most would stop after such a gut-wrenching loss, he says he is going to keep sports gambling.  Already this year Mattress Mack has lost an additional $2 million on the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl and an additional $700,000 on a Tennessee Titans future bet to win the Super Bowl.  It does not stop there, though, he lost an additional $6.15 million on the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the College Football Playoffs.

While people like Drake or Mattress Mack can afford to lose money on that scale, the general population of sports bettors cannot.  

Discussion for the legalization of sports gambling is never-ending in states that prohibit the activity.  Minnesota is still one of the furthest states from legalizing sportsbooks within the contiguous U.S.  It could happen within a couple of years or it may even take longer than that.  Minnesota has also talked about legislation for sports gambling and how it would work.  Specifically, which casinos and companies could accept wagers.  The Native American tribes within Minnesota are likely some of the few entities that could accept sports wagers.  Just recently in November, Wisconsin opened their first legal sportsbook at Oneida Casino which is the Oneida Nation’s main casino.  It is likely that if Minnesota were to legalize sports gambling it would be in a similar fashion to neighboring Wisconsin.

The sports gambling industry has taken the world by storm over the past couple of years with new industries throughout the nation that are providing the ability for gamblers to legally gamble on sports.  With such a massive gambling population throughout the nation, whether legal or under the table, there is no doubt more and more states will consider legalizing sports betting. 

 

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