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US Sports Bettors Have Already Wagered More in 2021 Than All of 2020

Natalie Abele

by Natalie Abele in Sports Betting News

Updated Jul 18, 2021 · 10:45 PM PDT

Tom Brady pumping his fists
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady reacts after winning the NFC championship NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis., Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021. The Buccaneers defeated the Packers 31-26 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
  • The US sports betting industry is on track to double its annual revenue in 2021
  • Nevada, Illinois, and Pennsylvania are in a tight race for America’s second-largest market
  • Why will sports betting revenue continue to climb?

Halfway into 2021, the United States has already generated more sports betting revenue than it did in all of 2020. As the official monthly revenue reports from June 2021 continue to roll in, it appears the overall sports betting handle (the amount wagered on sports) will more than double year-over-year. 

As legal sports wagering expands into more and more states, the popularity of sports betting is booming. With additional states such as Arizona, Maryland, and Louisiana expected to come online later this year, American sportsbooks are on track to take in more than $45 billion of action in 2021. 

In just six months, Americans have already wagered more than $21.5 billion with legal sportsbooks this year. After paying out winning bets, that’s resulted in more than $1.6 billion in gross gaming revenue. Over $200 million has wound up back in state coffers, often used to help fund things such as K-12 education programs. Compare those numbers to previous annual totals and it’s obvious the industry is skyrocketing. 

US Sports Betting Revenue: Annual Totals

Year Number of Active States Total Betting Handle Gross Revenue Total State Tax Revenue
2018 8 $4,618,927,032 $328,876,857 $39,128,263
2019 14 $13,070,894,561 $915,172,754 $127,364,114
2020 20 $21,526,970,899 $1,545,524,400 $244,621,474
2021 (so far) 22 (and counting) $21,584,069,542 $1,629,258,372 $213,443,938

The best three stand-alone months in the young history of legal sports betting in the US have all come in 2021. In March, a record $4,611,002,625 was wagered on sports in a single month, reflecting the widespread popularity of college basketball’s March Madness. Typically, the bigger betting volumes come during football season, so there are even greater months ahead this year. Couple that with the fact that additional new states are launching soon and it becomes clear the industry has not yet reached its ceiling.

At the individual state level, New Jersey is once again leading the way. The Garden State will almost certainly finish with the highest betting handle of any state in 2021 – it’s currently on track to take in over $9 billion (and possibly even $10 billion) in wagers this year.

However, the race for the second biggest revenue-generating state has never been tighter. Nevada, Illinois, and PA sports betting will all exceed $6 billion in betting handle this year, and which one finishes ahead of the other two is anyone’s guess (it would make an interesting wager in its own right!). Just $4 million in betting handle currently separates NV and IL.

Meanwhile, new markets such as Tennessee and Virginia are thriving, as are states like Michigan that opened their virtual doors. The gap between states with online betting and those where bettors are limited to placing wagers in-person at retail sportsbooks is ever-widening. As state governments consider how to renew their economies in the “after-times” of the COVID-19 pandemic, expect more and more lawmakers to look towards online sports betting as a source of economic development and state tax revenue. 

As always, Sports Betting Dime will be tracking the growth of the industry on a state-by-state basis. Explore our US sports betting revenue tracker for more information and up-to-date analysis. If you’re new to the action and what to give sports betting a try, check out our Betting 101 guides and list of the top US online sportsbooks. 

Have fun and enjoy the action out there! 

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