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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Americans Bet $125B On Sports In 4 Years Since Legalization

Americans have bet more than $125 billion on sports with legal gambling outlets in the four years since a US Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for all 50 states to offer it, Wayne Parry reported for the Associated Press (AP).

Photo Insert: Betting on horse racing is legal in most states.

On Saturday’s anniversary of the decision in a case brought by New Jersey, two-thirds of the states in the country have legalized sports betting. In just four years, the industry has worked itself into the daily lives of millions of Americans — from those who plunk down money hoping for a certain outcome to those who watch TV broadcasts with odds calculations to those struggling with gambling problems.

You don’t have to be a gambler — or even a sports fan — to be affected: The industry tsunami of advertising is practically impossible to avoid, particularly on TV and radio but in other media as well. For example, FanDuel is the official odds provider for AP.

On May 14, 2018, the SC decided a case that had begun 10 years earlier in New Jersey as the longest of long shots: A bid to overturn federal law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which restricted sports betting to just four states that met a 1991 deadline to legalize it.

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Ray Lesniak, the now-retired state senator who filed the first lawsuit against the federal government over the issue, said he acted to provide money for states, protection for consumers, and to attract experienced European betting companies to expand to the US — all of which he said have come to pass.

To comprehend just how much $125 billion is, consider this: It’s a bit more than the amount that was spent on pet food, supplies, and veterinary care in the entire country last year, and more than the net income for America’s farmers last year.

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Of course, much of that money was paid out to people who won bets. After expenses, the sportsbooks generally keep less than 10% of the total amount of bets they handle. Over the first four years of legal betting, their revenue figure is $8.8 billion, according to the American Gaming Association, the gambling industry’s national trade group.

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