Since sports betting became legal in Arizona, there have been some surprising results from both fans and bookmakers. Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, has been studying the trends in sports betting. He pointed out that the average adult in Arizona has wagered around $2,000 on sports bets, a significant amount of money for many.
The trend of legalizing gambling is spreading across the United States, with roughly two-thirds of states now allowing it. Before online sports betting was permitted in Arizona, former state lawmaker Jeff Weninger anticipated an annual influx of at least $100 million in revenue for the general fund. This fund supports over 60 state agencies, with a substantial portion allocated to the Department of Education.
However, the actual revenue has fallen short of the $100 million target. In all of 2022, nearly $6 billion was wagered, but the state collected only about $28.5 million in fees for the general fund. Even with significant sporting events like the Super Bowl, the Waste Management Open, the Phoenix Suns making the playoffs, and March Madness, the total wagers for the year 2023 are around $3.5 billion.
It’s important to note that the financial impact of sports betting goes beyond tax revenues. Proponents argue that it contributes to economic development, and boosts advertising revenue, with many platforms actively promoting their services.
Despite the economic development, the state government’s earnings are relatively low. Arizona’s tax rate means that for every $100 bet in the state, the government only collects $5. Matheson emphasizes that the sportsbooks themselves are reaping significant profits, with about a billion dollars in net winnings.
Currently, Arizona has 16 sportsbooks according to usalegalbetting.com/az, and there are plans for more. Max Hartgraves from the Arizona Department of Gaming highlights that over 99% of wagers are placed online. In July 2023, over $323 million was wagered in the state, with $320 million of that coming from online platforms.
The convenience of betting on sports via mobile phones has made it easier than ever, but it has also raised concerns about addiction. Elise Mikkelsen from the Division of Problem Gaming states that they haven’t seen a significant increase in hotline calls related to online sports betting yet. However, they anticipate that the need for treatment and assistance may grow in the future.
Mikkelsen stresses the importance of Arizonans knowing that help is available for any kind of gambling addiction. While many are currently enjoying sports betting, addiction can be a serious issue for some individuals.
Matheson believes that the popularity of sports betting will continue to grow, and he envisions a future where it’s legal in almost every state in the United States. Kentucky recently joined the list of states legalizing mobile sports betting, becoming the 25th state to do so. Even major states like Texas, California, and Florida, which have not yet legalized it, might follow suit in the near future.
While sports betting has brought excitement and economic development to Arizona, the revenue generated for the state remains lower than expected. However, the future of sports betting in the United States looks promising, with more states likely to legalize it in the coming years.