History of Sports Betting in the United States
Sports betting in the U.S.A. is legal in only two states: Nevada and Oregon. In Nevada, there are a number of casino sportsbooks and in Oregon there is a state lottery called sports Action. Nevada has over 140 legal sportsbooks at an amateur and professional level. Sports Action is a game based on contests played in the National Football League. All the benefits from this lottery are assigned to support college athletics in Oregon University. Although there have been many attempts to legalize it due to its popularity, the State has not regulated it yet. In the past 30 years, sports betting has increased its reputation among Americans, becoming one of the favorite pastimes in the country. There are some forms of legalized sports betting whose popularity has increased at an amazing pace. This has had an effect in other illegal sports betting forms, which have also grown. Some factors are responsible for this general growth.
Sports betting involves big amounts of money which in most cases cannot be determined due to the illegality of most ventures. In 1983, the federal wagering tax decreased from 10% to 0.25%. Many illegal sports betting ventures abandon their illegality, because legality became profitable. Years before, in the 1970's, the federal gambling tax in Nevada was lowered from 10% to 2%, which also helped sports wagering to flourish in that state. Actually, the benefits increased significantly, from 41 million dollars in 1973 to 258 million dollars in 1979. Sportsbooks in Nevada had gross gambling revenues of 118.6 million dollars in 1994, and 122.5 million dollars in 1998. College betting accounts for 33% of the total sports betting revenue. Many hotels and casinos in Nevada have witnessed excellent financial results from sportsbooks and in-house races.
The media has devoted a lot of time to sporting events in the past years, which has helped the public to become familiar with different types of sports. Cable TV has brought the opportunity to watch live games. Actually, football, basketball and baseball, which are the most popular sports to bet on, have all contracts with TV providers both at a national and at a local level. The media has often associated sports with gambling. Finally, the marketing associated to sports has also experienced a remarkable rise. All these factors have had an effect in the public opinion that has ceased to see sports betting as a social stigma.
Another reason why sports betting has become so popular among the public is that now, sports bettors have more information than they used to, so the disadvantage between bettor and bookmaker is not that severe. The number of sporting events televised has increased in a considerable manner. Professional football is perhaps the most popular televised sporting event and the favorite to bet on among Americans.