AGA’s Miller Points to Sports Betting as Key to Gaming Recovery

AGA’s Miller Points to Sports Betting as Key to Gaming Recovery

American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller addressed the gaming industry’s ongoing recovery from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday in a public presentation that outlined how the industry trade group is trying to help that recovery.

Among the points of emphasis was the substantial role that sports wagering and iGaming have been playing during the widescale shutdown of casinos and their importance to the gaming industry in the future.

“The impact of the pandemic would have been far more devastating had it not been for legal, mobile gaming options,” Miller said. “Because of this, getting legal sports betting right has never been more important.”

In addition to setting out the figures that illustrated the import of sports wagering and iGaming (online casino gambling and online poker), Miller emphasized the need to continue the fight against illegal sports betting operators, whether local bookies or offshore gambling companies.

“We know that legal sports betting and iGaming, which served as crucial revenue backstops in 2020, will be essential,” Miller said. “When all the numbers are in for 2020, legal sports betting handle will have surpassed $21 billion wagered, generating more than $210 million in state taxes. Mobile sports betting played a key role, accounting for 82% of wagers since last March. IGaming, while only active in four states, generated nearly $1.4 billion in revenue and $340 million in taxes through November.”

Growth of Legal Sports Betting

Miller noted the extraordinary growth in legal sports wagering since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Act just two-plus years ago.

“Today, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting and more are on the way," Miller pointed out. “Activations in Michigan and Virginia last week made legal sports betting available to an additional 14.5 million American adults. As of today, 92 million American adults can bet on sports legally in their home states and that’s a remarkable growth story since the Supreme Court’s decision back in 2018.”

States such as Maryland and Louisiana, where voters overwhelmingly approved sports wagering last November in referendums, are or soon will be working on sports wagering legislation. Lawmakers in other states, such as North Carolina and Texas, have either crafted bills or expressed their intent to advance legislation to initiate or expand sports wagering.

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“If the legal sports betting market grows at just half the rate it grew in 2020, Americans will bet more than $25 billion this year on sports," Miller said. “In order to make this happen, our efforts to fight illegal sportsbooks become even more important. And we will continue to work with regulators, teams, media companies and others to promote responsible sports wagering.”

Priorities for the AGA

In addition to emphasizing the role of sports wagering and iGaming in offsetting the economic blow that the pandemic dealt the gaming industry, Miller highlighted four areas where the AGA will continue to aid in the recovery.

Those areas are: Securing financial relief from the federal government, something that happened for the first time ever for the gaming industry in emergency economic rescue legislation last year; cultivating bi-partisan “champions” in Congress who are receptive to the gaming industry’s role and challenges; fend off overly burdensome taxes and regulations; and continue to preform research and communicate information that provide insights into gaming as an industry that supports communities and the economy.

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