After needing 44 months to reach $100 billion in nationwide sports wagering handle, it took just eight more to get halfway from there to $200 billion.
New Jersey‘s $546.8 million handle reported Friday pushed the overall national total above $150 billion, dating back to the first wagers placed in June 2018 when state-by-state wagering outside Nevada became legal. Back then, it was only New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware taking action. A person can now place a legal wager in nearly two-thirds of the states in the country, and on Sept. 1, Kansas became the 27th jurisdiction (including Washington, D.C.) to launch commercial wagering.
There have been many factors big and small that have led to reaching $150 billion in handle. Mobile wagering is the largest factor, and its availability in nearly every state that conducts commercial betting has led to mainstream acceptance. Nearly all of the most populous states with sports betting have access to remote registration — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New York among them — and the Empire State is probably the best example of that impact with more than $10 billion in wagers accepted in just eight months of online betting.
Here at Sports Handle, we have been diligently tracking state-by-state handle and revenue since late 2019 and are pleased to introduce a new feature to that page: a month-by-month national summary of handle and revenue that goes back to those first days in June 2018 and runs through the current reporting month of August 2022 to include the Garden State’s latest entry.
The following is a look around the country behind what got us to $150 billion.
The epicenter of sports wagering moves east
No one is denying Las Vegas remains a premier sports wagering and casino gaming destination. There is nothing like The Strip, and Circa’s relatively recent arrival only furthers Vegas’ reputation as the place to go to put down bets. But having the entire wagering world on a smartphone has created a seismic shift regarding where the sports betting capital of the country is.
The new answers are New York City and Atlantic City, and by extension, New York and New Jersey. The city that never sleeps now has nine sportsbooks that never shut down, available at the touch of a fingertip. January ushered in a new era in New York, which quickly put a King Kong-style vise grip on the top four monthly spots for all-time handle in its first four months of mobile action.
It is very possible New York will extend that exclusivity to the sixth spot after September and October numbers are tallied up. The $6.26 billion in wagers accepted from January through April is more than any other state’s 2022 year-to-date totals with the exception of New Jersey.
The Garden State may be out of the spotlight, but it is never out of mind when it comes to handle. Along with New York, the pair comprise the entire top-10 list for monthly totals and account for 12 of the 16 $1 billion monthly handles. And for all the “wow” factor New York has provided with its mobile prowess, it still has a long way to go before it catches New Jersey for the top spot in cumulative post-PASPA handle — the Garden State is close to $30 billion after Friday’s report, and Nevada is the only other state above $16 billion.
|Month||State||Sports Wagering Handle|
|January 2022||New York||$1,686,263,898|
|March 2022||New York||$1,644,789,642|
|February 2022||New York||$1,534,078,893|
|April 2022||New York||$1,396,791,941|
|January 2022||New Jersey||$1,348,860,083|
|October 2021||New Jersey||$1,303,198,342|
|May 2022||New York||$1,269,862,570|
|November 2021||New Jersey||$1,258,189,436|
|December 2021||New Jersey||$1,229,561,891|
|March 2022||New Jersey||$1,120,904,954|
Connecticut launched last fall and gave the whole tri-state area sports wagering access, and it needed just nine months to surpass $1 billon handle. Having the two most popular mobile options available in FanDuel and DraftKings (plus SugarHouse via the Connecticut Lottery) means nine-figure handles should be the norm in the fall and winter months.
The Midwest provides wagering might
It is no surprise Illinois made itself a top national player, having the third-largest city in the U.S. in Chicago and rabid fan bases for teams with every major professional league represented. The Land of Lincoln is also a notable example in the importance of remote registration when it comes to mobile wagering, evidenced by Gov. JB Pritzker’s Executive Order and repeated renewals to suspend in-person registration during the pandemic that accelerated the upward trajectory of handle.
All the while, the two states bracketing Illinois geographically have also provided a sizable chunk of that $150 billion total. Indiana may be the gold standard of a state punching above its weight class, not ceding the no. 5 all-time handle spot to New York until earlier this summer, and positioning multiple retail sportsbooks within an hour of Chicago when it beat Illinois to launch in 2019. Indiana had a six-month stretch of handle above $400 million, and a repeat performance starting with September’s numbers would not be unexpected.
Iowa has the largest handle of any state without a top-tier professional sports team, and since remote registration began in 2021, the Hawkeye State has stubbornly remained in the top half of the national handle rankings. A state among the most business-friendly to the sports wagering industry thanks to its 6.75% tax rate, Iowa gives its bettors no lack of options with 18 mobile operators — among the most of any state.
High heat out west
As mentioned previously, there is always going to be an important place for sports wagering in Nevada, especially during NFL season when Las Vegas sportsbooks have their season-long contests and the NCAA Tournament to flex their considerable in-person muscle. That ensures the Silver State will rarely, if ever, be outside the top five until the other “Holy Grail” states of Florida, Texas, and California launch.
That said, the rise of Arizona and Colorado proved just how underserved the sports betting market was in the Southwest. The Grand Canyon State quickly made itself known as a national player — it is the fastest of any new state in the post-PASPA era to reach $5 billion handle, at 11 months — and being a warm-weather tourist destination with sporting venues the primary locations of brick-and-mortar sportsbooks means business should remain steady.
It can be argued Colorado did a better job emulating Atlantic City than Atlantic City did as a hub-and-spoke model for mobile wagering, given how its gaming destinations Cripple Creek, Central City, and Black Hawk are now retail tethers to more than 25 mobile wagering options. Additionally, how can you not love a state where all-time table tennis handle is above $200 million?
A digital delight in the Mid-South and Bayou
In the sports betting space, Virginia and Tennessee are known in part for what was missing when it came to wagering: retail sportsbooks. The Volunteer State was the first in the nation to go exclusively online, and the Old Dominion launched in similar fashion.
While Tennessee will remain brick-and-mortar-free for the forseeable future, Virginia’s first casino is open, and retail books are not far behind. Both, though, have been notable contributors to this handle benchmark and show no signs of slowing down.
Meanwhile, Louisiana jumped into the picture late last year as all but a handful of parishes statewide voted to legalize. Mobile wagering began with the turn of the year, and having the Final Four in New Orleans in March provided a nice boost ahead of its first full NFL regular season with mobile betting. A football-mad state between the New Orleans Saints and LSU Tigers, the Big Easy will continue to easily put up big numbers.
Yoopers, yinzers, and (soon) buckeyes!
Michigan can be labeled part of either the Midwest or the Rust Belt, and we’re opting for the latter here out of convenience, with Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa already spoken for. The Wolverine State provided the most excitement for any mobile launch prior to New York with a free-for-all start among 10 online operators in late-January 2021, and it has since been a fixture in the top 10 for handle.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Pennsylvania has many admirers for what has been mainly smooth operations in reaching No. 3 all-time in handle. Michigan cribbed the Keystone State in offering online sports wagering and online casino gaming, and New York made the same successful gamble on a high tax rate (its 51% being notably higher than Pennsylvania’s 36% on adjusted revenue). Pennsylvania’s $270 million in tax receipts solely from sports wagering trails only the Empire State.
Ohio is set to enter the sports betting space Jan. 1 similarly to Michigan, with multiple mobile operators already champing at the bit. It will also bring an unprecedented scope of retail wagering that offers the potential of excitement and chaos befitting a Buckeye State with high expectations given its notably passionate sports fans.
Put it all together, and we may be back here in six months’ time talking about crossing the $200 billion threshold.