Since 1992, sports gambling has been entirely legal in only one American state: Nevada. But earlier this month, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned a federal ban on sports gambling, allowing all 50 states to individually legalize it. This decision could potentially changing the world of sport forever.
U.S. residents have been able to legally bet on sports, such as MMA, via offshore sportsbooks — websites based in other countries that have different gambling laws. But now, fans will soon have an option to bet in a regulated fashion if they live in a state that chooses to legalize sports gambling.
Best known for its wide variety of UFC prop bets, BetDSI is one of the many offshore sportsbooks that fans particularly in the U.S. use to gamble on sports. Its spokesperson, Scott Cooley, isn’t surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision. In fact, this is something he, BetDSI, and other offshore sportsbooks have seen coming for quite a while.
“It’s something that people in our industry have been expecting it for years,” Cooley told BloodyElbow.com. “We hear about it year after year, decade after decade, and it seemed to be getting closer and closer. I like to compare it to the legalization of cannabis. Once the Supreme Court accepted to take on the case, we always said they were gonna pass it, otherwise they wouldn’t have tried for it.”
Gamblers, living in the U.S. or not, have had the option to bet on sports via online, offshore sportsbooks for decades. For those people, Cooley said, the end of the federal ban won’t change much — at least in their eyes it won’t. But other people less involved in sports and gambling will see a greater incentive to bet now that it isn’t banned by the U.S.
“The people that wanted to bet on sports were already doing it, anyway,” Cooley said. “For the casual fan, the people that aren’t immersed in the sports sector of society, I think it’s a big deal. … That’s why you see a lot of mainsteam media outlets already deeply associate with the sporting industry, really covering this heavily, being excited.”
From the outside looking in, the ban’s end appears to be positive for every party involved except offshore sportsbooks. It will earn the government more revenue; it will make gambling more convenient for fans; and sports leagues and promotions will likely gain some popularity, as well. The only other that could take a hit when it comes to MMA is Las Vegas, the sport’s capital. People have traveled to Sin City for years specifically to bet on fights, but once sports gambling is legalized in other states, there will be less incentive to do so.
But Cooley is optimistic regarding the future of offshore sportsbooks, such as BetDSI.
He believes that because the U.S. has ended the federal ban, the public will see that as an ‘OK’ to use offshore sportsbooks while certain states have yet to legalize sports gambling. Therefore, he actually expects short-term growth. But long term, he realizes offshore sportsbooks won’t benefit from the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The bettors that are gonna want to get involved immediately are going to find places to play — some states are gonna be years away from doing this,” Cooley said. “If you’re not in the state, then you’re not gonna get to bet. We’re gonna see a lot of people turn to online shops in the near future.
“In the long term, the offshore market will take a hit, because people will want to stay home.”
He doesn’t anticipate the aforementioned hit to be crushing, however, as some people will simply stick with what they’ve done for years. For years, offshore sportsbooks have worked for many people, so why change?
Plus, offshore sportsbooks will always offer more variety when it comes to prop bets and other incentives like bonuses — they’re more creative than regulated casinos, Cooley said. There will always be reasons for the betting public to return to the offshore market, he believes.
“Just the convenience of being able to get on your computer and login to your account while you’re watching the event, and even betting on it while you’re watching, between rounds and stuff. That’s something that the offshore market, websites like BetDSI, have been able to offer for years and years,” he said.
“It’s gonna take some time for the rest of these states to even get close to where offshore has been for 20 years.”
With the news of the Supreme Court’s decision to end the federal ban on sports gambling, the betting public has been dying to know when they’ll actually be able to gamble on sports in a regulated fashion in their own states. Unfortunately, it’ll be a long road ahead for most.
“It’s not going to be soon,” Cooley said when asked if there will ever be a time all 50 U.S. states have sports gambling legalized. “At the very earliest, you’re gonna start seeing New Jersey taking really traditional, standard bets at the horse track or casino in the next month or so. And then you’re gonna have other states that are maybe eight to 12 months behind that. And then more states will come in and they’re gonna be another year or two away.
“And then, of course, you’re gonna have the southern states that are gonna be very hesitant to even allow something like this. If you’re looking at a country-wide, full on legalization of sports betting, I’m guessing it’s gonna be 15 or 20 years.”