Sports betting is illegal in most parts of the United States. Federal law permits sports wagering in just four states out of 50, as a result of which the amount of bets placed on sports in the United States, $2 billion, is far lower than the figures for other countries such as Spain, the United Kingdom or Australia. However, the illegal sports wagering industry in the United States is flourishing and according to reliable estimates, it has touched $93 billion this year. Americans clearly love placing bets on college and professional football (and a whole lot of other sports) and they aren’t going to let the law come in the way of their enjoyment.
There is clearly a need to have well organised and transparent sports betting in the United States, which is why an increasing numbers of Americans are choosing to place wagers on fantasy sports as the next best option to actual sports. People from all over the country are placing bets on fantasy sports and the business is estimated to be around $15 billion this year. The biggest companies in the business, DraftKings and FanDuel expect to give away $1 billion and $2 billion in prizes this year.
Betting on fantasy sports is absolutely legal in the United States and daily fantasy sports have become immensely popular because they are exciting and rewarding. Players have to draft athletes into their virtual teams and hope that the team outperforms the others based upon the performance of the athletes in actual matches being played at the same time. Players can bet any amount they feel comfortable with, and some bets start as low as 25¢ too. However, since larger bets are necessary to ensure big payouts, many people wager hundreds of dollars on these sports. While there is a great deal of money to be won, losses can also be colossal!
The question still remains as to why fantasy sports betting is legal whereas actual sports betting is not. After all, both of them depend on the performance of actual athletes on the field. The main reason, quite shockingly, is that the 1992 law that outlawed sports betting did not take fantasy betting into account because it just wasn’t big enough an enterprise at the time! The fantasy sports lobby is quick to defend betting on it saying that it is not exactly gambling, but a game of skill. The fact is that fantasy sports betting fits the description of gambling in that people wager money on a tentative outcome with the hope of winning a lot of money.
The major sports leagues in the United States are firmly set against making sports betting legal. However, there is growing awareness that this is a problem that has to be addressed very soon, especially since the government is losing out on a tremendous amount of money in the form of taxes. Many Americans are waiting for the day they can legally bet on sporting events; till then they will patronise fantasy sports or place bets illegally!