More than thrice 2021's GGR

US sports betting and iGaming market to become world's largest at $24B by 2026, according to study

Reading time 2:10 min

The US sports betting and online gaming markets combined reported $7.7 billion in gross revenue in 2021, but they could more than triple that figure in three years, according to a study by VIXIO GamblingCompliance. The firm claims the sectors are on pace to reach $24.3 billion by 2026, making the US the largest gaming market on the planet at double the size of the UK’s.

The forecast comes as the US sports betting market experiences a boom following the overturning in 2018 of a federal ban on regulated sports wagering outside of Nevada. Since then, 35 states and the District of Columbia have legalized their markets in some form, while at least 10 more jurisdictions have considered following suit.

According to VIXIO’s study, FanDuel has led all operators in the online sports betting segment by market share for a second straight year, with nearly 40% of the legal US market. The gaming giant was followed by DraftKings and BetMGM, which ranked second and third respectively, while Caesars landed in fourth place.

But the firm also looked at the landscape of sports betting at a state level. The report tackles the much-discussed state-by-state nature of the US industry, which implies a constant flux of regulatory changes to adapt to for companies entering more than one jurisdiction.

With all the structural changes in licenses, fees and rules per state, it’s no surprise sports betting companies have been fined $1.4 million by US regulators since 2020, as shown by the study. Indiana holds the title to the most strict market, with total fines nearly twice the size of those in New Jersey.

But while the approach to regulation the US has taken might have its challenges, it also has its positive side. According to VIXIO, US states are more “prescriptive” than European countries when it comes to types of bets and events permitted, sometimes including college sports, esports and awards among allowed markets. Additionally, more than a half-dozen states have enacted changes to their original betting laws since first legalizing, showing flexibility to adapt.

In the study, the firm labels the US market as a particularly promising one, poised for large growth, and credits a number of factors as drivers of the expected expansion. Among them is Covid-19: while the pandemic initially led to major sports leagues shutting down for months, it has also acted as a major catalyst in states turning to online gaming.

While most states typically linked online gaming licenses to physical entities -most often casinos and racetracks-, during the pandemic, states without casinos such as Tennessee and Virginia moved to establish online markets without depending on land-based properties. Meanwhile, others like New York and Maryland passed legislation allowing for operators to have direct ownership of their licenses, without the need for a partnership with a retail gaming partner.

A change in the approach states take to regulate sports betting can also be found in how Ohio and Arizona have moved to incorporate pro sports franchises into the mix, granting them attractive privileges for access such as those casinos typically had. This model is now also in consideration in other states reviewing sports betting legislation.

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