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KUNR Public Radio is a proud partner in the Mountain West News Bureau, a partnership of public media stations that serve Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming. The mission is to tell stories about the people, places and issues of the Mountain West.

Sports betting boom rippling across Mountain West states since legalization

A Las Vegas sportsbook filled with large TV screens. People are sitting in chairs facing toward the screens.
Sarah Stierch
Flickr Creative Commons
Nationwide, since 2018, the sports betting industry has generated more than $18 billion in revenue for sportsbooks, such as Circa Sportsbook in Las Vegas.

Five years ago, sports betting was limited mainly to Nevada. Now, you can bet in more than half of the country, including several other states in the Mountain West. And business is booming.

In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, which was a federal ban on sports betting. Since then, Americans have wagered more than $220 billion on sports, according to an analysis by the American Gaming Association.

As of Monday, people in Nevada have bet nearly $32 billion during that span, which ranks second only to New Jersey ($37.5 billion), according to Legal Sports Report. The only other Mountain West state in the top 10 is 7th-ranked Colorado at $11.7 billion. In Wyoming, roughly $238 million has been wagered on sports, followed by Montana at $139 million. New Mexico is one of five states in the U.S. that doesn’t make total wager amounts publicly available.

Nationwide, the sports betting industry has generated more than $18 billion in revenue for sportsbooks and $3 billion in state and local taxes.

Mike Lawton, the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s senior economic analyst, said the growth of the industry is being driven by a number of factors.

“A key component of sports wagering in Nevada and across the country is the ability to wager on your phone,” said Lawton, adding that sports betting has also been embraced by TV networks and advertisers. “You have ESPN mentioning point spreads and bad beats on their primetime shows.”

Currently, only seven states don’t have any active legislative efforts to make sports betting legal, including Idaho and Utah.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist and KUNR’s Mountain West News Bureau reporter. His reporting covers issues related to the environment, wildlife and water in Nevada and the region.
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