January 8, 2020

Cancel that Vegas vacay: Sports gambling is legal in 20 states, and startups are cashing in 

Casinos and entrepreneurs are replacing bookies and offshore websites as the venues of choice for US sports gambling.

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Go ahead and ditch that sketchy subscription to OffshoreHotSlots.biz: If sports gambling isn’t already legal where you live, it likely will be soon.

Less than 2 years after a Supreme Court ruling allowed any state to legalize and regulate sports betting, 20 states now offer or will soon offer sports gambling. And startups are muscling in for a piece of what could be an $81B pie by 2030, our Trends team found

No more Silicon Back Alley 

An estimated $150B is wagered every year on sports in the US on the black market, much of which happens through shady websites or your friend Fitz, who’s always hanging out in the backroom of that bar on the corner.

Sports gambling is now offered at casinos and sometimes online in states where it’s been legalized. But established players are likely the only entities that will get the licensing to run sportsbooks. 

Startups have to be more creative   

The Action Network has made a splash with its subscription website that provides news and insights related to sports gambling. It closed a $17.5m funding round last year, and now averages 2.5m to 3m unique visitors a month.

Marc Edelman, a consultant on legal and business issues in sports gaming and a professor of law at Baruch College, says other advice-oriented websites will be in demand.

Also in demand: social networks for sports gambling, and audience development and identification for casinos.

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