In 2021, US legal sports betting reached unimagined new heights. Sports betting handle and revenue from one state to the next exceeded expectations. At the same time, a number of new major markets opened up as state legislatures were finally able to get sports betting laws on the books.

Some of the states that made headlines in 2021 were Arizona, Wyoming, Connecticut, Louisiana, Ohio and New York. So what should industry watchers be keeping an eye on in the year ahead? We pick out some of the stories most likely to reach the front pages of mainstream media in 2022.


1. NY Online Sports Betting

Barely two weeks into January and this is probably the biggest story we will see all year. On January 8th, New York online sports betting went live. Although it began with just four of the approved operators, the volume of betting justified all the hype. NY has been the biggest state launch in legal sports betting’s history. It suggests strongly that New Jersey’s reign as the king of legal betting states is over.

After losing so much potential sports betting tax revenue to other states, former Governor Andrew Cuomo finally approved the offering of mobile betting services in NY in the middle of 2021. Two groups of online operators that consist of nine of the top sports betting operators in the U.S. were approved for licenses.

While retail sports betting has been legal in New York for over two years, mobile wagering finally gives access to all sports fans. It wasn’t much use to the betting public because the retail sportsbooks are all located in four casinos in upper state NY. It’s not convenient for the big city sports gamblers who instead simply drove to New Jersey to bet on sports through online operators.

That’s all in the past now as of January 2022. And as mentioned, while that is great news for sports bettors and the government in NY, New Jersey’s status as the number one sports betting state is in jeopardy. When NY bettors stay home, the NJ numbers should see a sizeable drop.


2. The Rise of BetMGM

As sports betting expands, the competition for market share among the sportsbooks gets fiercer. As of early 2022, the big four are FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook. Of course, FanDuel and DraftKings have a big advantage on the competition. Their success in Daily Fantasy Sports prior to the legalization of sports betting gave them a significant head start.

What we’ve seen in the past 12 months is BetMGM’s determination to take the fight directly to FanDuel and DraftKings. They make no secret of their drive to become the biggest and best online sports betting operator in the country. The MGM brand has been at the forefront of US gambling for 50+ years. With the right pedigree and financial backing, there is no doubt they have the reputation as well as the resources to threaten the dominance of the current market leaders.

BetMGM is currently offering betting services in 21 states with more to come in the near future. The company is also aggressively pursuing marketing partnerships with major sports teams/leagues/TV networks. In 2022, expect to see BetMGM making strong advances towards its stated goals. It would seem the company’s current strategy on expansion is starting to pay huge dividends.


3. Mergers and Acquisitions

In 2021, Caesars successfully acquired UK sports betting giant William Hill. They were able to take control of William Hill’s US-facing online business and have subsequently sold off their international operations to 888. It’s unlikely this is a standalone event. It’s much more likely it foreshadows similar deals taking place in the next 12-24 months.

With more than a dozen operators clamoring for market share in US at this time, it makes sense that further acquisitions/mergers/partnerships could make news in 2022. We already know that DraftKings and Caesars Sportsbook have been aggressively pursuing deals as a means of growth. In the meantime, smaller operators like PointsBet and Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers) could become prime merger candidates in the near future.

The industry is red hot, but the costs associated with competing for market share is not sustainable for so many sportsbooks. By 2023 it’s likely we will have seen the beginning of consolidation across the industry.


4. States to Watch

While states like California and Texas seem years away from passing sports betting legislation, there are a few major states that are poised to begin legal sports betting action.

Louisiana online sports betting is just weeks away from launch. Officials have declared their intention to go live by the time Super Bowl comes, if not earlier.

Both Maryland and Ohio passed sports betting legislation in late 2021. While a clear date has not been set, Maryland will likely start taking bets within the next few months. Sports bettors in Ohio will have to wait until the second half of the year before they can bet online.

Then there is Florida. After temporarily allowing residents to legally wager on sports through casinos owned by the Seminole Indian Nation, the betting was brought to an abrupt halt in December 2021. At issue was a Federal court judge determining the new Indian Compact violated certain laws with U.S. Indian tribes.

The rest of this year will see a Florida initiative battle come election day in November. On the ballot could be two sports betting initiatives, one that supports an open sports betting policy for operators and one that would give the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to offer sports betting in the state.

Other states making moves towards legalizing online betting include Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia.