U.S. industry executives, regulatory officials and legal advisors expect sports betting to be legal in 45 or more states by 2025, compared with 32 at the start of 2022, according to the findings of the second annual VIXIO GamblingCompliance and SBC U.S. Sports Betting Regulatory Survey. But they also voiced concerns related to New York’s unique regulatory model for online sports betting and its high tax rate of 51% eventually spreading to other jurisdictions, and they back proactively limiting marketing efforts to avoid a potential policy backlash.
The VIXIO/SBC survey was conducted in the run-up to the SBC Summit North America that was held in New Jersey in December 2021, and asked 145 leading executives and advisors in the sports betting industry to give their views on regulatory risks and market expansion.
When asked to select the policy issue most likely to impede growth of the U.S. market in future years, 21% of respondents picked high tax rates and license fees, ahead of the 12-14% who selected either the slower rollout of iGaming, the Wire Act, limited enforcement actions against offshore operators, or restrictions on permitted bet types or events. The spread of New York’s high-tax model to other states was also selected by almost 28% as the most concerning from a list of hypothetical regulatory events.
“The second VIXIO/SBC U.S. Sports Betting Regulatory Survey showed a noticeable and understandable shift in industry sentiment on regulatory risks in the U.S. market,” said James Kilsby, VIXIO’s chief analyst. “Ten states passed laws on sports wagering during 2021 and they did so through a far more diverse range of regulatory models than in prior years, with New York establishing by far most expensive U.S. market to date in terms of tax rates and license fees, and another potentially lucrative market, Florida, seeking to grant exclusivity to the Seminole Tribe.”
While sports betting is expanding rapidly, online casino or iGaming is stuck in a much lower gear, limited to just six states at the start of 2022. 25% of survey participants said perceived risks of problem gambling were the main reason for the slower rollout of iGaming compared with sports betting, closely followed by concerns of cannibalization of land-based casino revenue. Still, 55% said they expected iGaming to expand to 10 or more states by 2025.
On another hot topic, survey participants were also asked about nascent concerns related to advertising, which has exploded in various states that have recently launched online sports wagering. 65% said they agreed some kind of policy backlash, similar to that currently sweeping across Europe, is inevitable without industry efforts to proactively limit marketing efforts.
The initial VIXIO/SBC survey conducted in late 2020 mainly highlighted industry concerns related to the 1961 Wire Act, an enigmatic federal law that prohibits interstate sports wagering, but these appear to have diminished since a favorable federal appellate court ruling that came on the same day as the inauguration of a Biden administration seen as less likely to clamp down on online gambling than that of former President Trump.