Analysis: US Sports Betting Handle on Track to More Than Double for FY 2021 as Records Continue to Tumble

  • Based on the past three quarters, full-year 2021 US betting handle should reach $46.8bn
  • The actual amount could prove higher due to recent record-breaking performances
  • NJ set the national highest monthly handle total in Oct, while PA broke its in-state record
  • The market could reach even greater heights in 2022 as more states open up to betting
American football with US bank notes
Based on AGA data for the past three quarters, US betting handle should reach at least $46.8bn for the full-year 2021, more than double total wagers taken in 2020. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Another successful year

As we approach the end of 2021, betting is now legal in more than 20 states in the US, and the vertical has undoubtedly taken the sports-loving nation by storm. Due to this expansion, US sports wagering handle reached an unprecedented $21.5bn in 2020, but sportsbooks have raised the bar even further this year.

Betting GGR reached $2.74bn for the first three quarters of 2021

In the most recent report from the American Gaming Association (AGA), US betting gross gaming revenue (GGR) reached $886.5m for Q3 2021. That represents a staggering rise of 153% from the year prior and 270% from 2019. Meanwhile, betting GGR reached $2.74bn for the first three quarters of 2021, already almost doubling the $1.5bn total achieved for the whole of 2020.

In Q3 this year, total US betting handle already reached $35.12bn, up 63% from 2020’s full-year amount. Adding the average handle from the past three quarters to calculate the potential full-year amount takes this total to around $46.8bn. That’s more than 118% higher than 2020’s total, and judging by record-breaking October figures, the actual amount could prove even greater still.

Records tumbling across the nation

Of course, we are yet to reach the conclusion of 2021, but US operators are providing an exciting end to the year in multiple states. October’s revenue and handle reports provide a snapshot of the current performance of the booming market, and the picture they paint is one of unstoppable growth.

$300m more than the previous record

Most notably, New Jersey smashed the national record for highest monthly sports betting handle in October. The state’s sportsbooks accepted wagers of $1.3bn for the month, a 62% increase from the year before and $300m more than the previous record set by the state just one month prior. Online dominated this total, accounting for around 90% of the state’s handle.

Similarly, one of New Jersey’s top competitors in the US betting rankings Pennsylvania broke some records of its own. Last week, the state announced record wagers of $776.2m for October, up 48% from 2020 and 33% month-on-month. The state also joined New Jersey and Nevada by reaching all-time betting handle of $10bn.

Elsewhere, a string of other states also had exceptional Octobers. Sportsbooks in Indiana topped the state handle record set in September by nearly 30% with $461.1m. Mississippi bettors also wagered more than ever before at $83.5m, 36% higher than 2020, while Iowa surpassed its own handle record by 34% at $280.9m. Michigan also joined the party, with its online-dominated market seeing a record $497.6m in wagers.

A look into the crystal ball

As the unknown of 2022 approaches, US sportsbooks can take confidence from the snowballing growth of betting over the past few years. In the first full year after the 2018 repeal of PASPA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act), US sportsbooks accepted wagers of $13bn in 2019. This increased by more than 65% the following year, despite the impact of the pandemic, and has the potential to rise at least 118% this year.

New York is one state expecting to launch mobile wagering

Of course, growth can’t go on forever, but US sportsbooks can at least expect it to continue in 2022 due to the addition of significant new markets. With its population of more than 20 million, New York is one state expecting to launch mobile wagering early next year. Speaking with VegasSlotsOnline News last week, Kambi exec Sarah Robertson said NY mobile betting had the potential to become “huge.”

In addition to this, US sports betting companies are continuing to increase their brand exposure through partnerships with sports franchises. For instance, Betway added to its long list of deals by signing with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils on Friday, while Caesars became the latest sportsbook to team up with the Madison Square Garden last week.

As for the long-term expectations, prior to the repeal of PASPA, the AGA estimated that US sports bettors were wagering $150bn annually. Evidently, legal sportsbooks have now begun claiming more and more of this business from illegal sportsbooks. It certainly doesn’t seem too ambitious to expect a mature US market to end up with a similar annual total.