sports betting predictions 2021
Opinion

21 Gambling Predictions For 2021 Part 1: What’s In Store For Sports Betting

This is Part 1 of a three-part series laying out the Betting USA’s team’s 21 best predictions for the gambling world in 2021. The first installment focuses on US sports betting, while in Part 2 and 3, the focus will shift to other sectors of the US gambling industry.

As we prepare to turn the page on 2020, the Betting USA team put on their forecasting hats to come up with 21 predictions for 2021. Each prediction is designated as a high, medium, or low confidence.

  • High confidence predictions are highly likely to happen.
  • Medium confidence predictions are more likely than not to happen.
  • Low confidence predictions are the Betting USA team throwing darts and thinking up some potential scenarios that could occur.

Here are our first seven predictions, all dealing with the popular topic of US sports betting.

Prediction #1: The Industry Will Deal With a (Minor?) Scandal

Since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018, US Sports betting has dealt with a few hiccups. These range from a well-publicized palp error in New Jersey to a supplier kerfuffle that forced the West Virginia industry offline for a spell to some murmurs of match-fixing in table tennis.

What it hasn’t dealt with is a real scandal.

But it’s only a matter of time before the US sports betting industry does face a scandal, and big or small, it will get plenty of attention, considering the microscope the sector is under.

Since it’s a matter of when, not if, how the industry deals with it will be far more critical than what exactly happens. Unlike the hiccups mentioned above, if the industry wants to avoid serious pushback, the proper approach is transparency and alacrity.

This prediction is low confidence.

Prediction #2: A New Challenger Will Emerge

Thus far, US sports betting has been a two-horse race between DraftKings and FanDuel. However, there are signs that their exclusive reign at the top could be coming to an end.

There are existing challengers in BetRivers, BetMGM, and the new Caesars-William Hill mashup. And new entries from the resurrected Bally’s to Barstool believe they have what it takes to shake up the market in 2021.

Basically, there are many legitimate challengers for the throne, and who will emerge (if anyone) will be a mixture of strategy, opportunity, and luck.

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #3: New York Takes the Mobile Sports Betting Plunge

2021 is the year New York gets its act together and legalizes mobile sports betting. Well, maybe.

Everything is lining up for the Empire State, with the governor even mentioning sports betting when asked about plugging the state’s massive budget hole. But this is New York, and if the online poker efforts of the early twenty-teens taught us anything, it’s that the state has about two dozen friction points.

Still, with neighboring New Jersey reaping the rewards of New Yorker’s sports betting appetite and COVID-19 blasting an Empire State Building sized hole in the budget, lawmakers may not have a choice but to support the measure.

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #4: Three New England States Join the Sports Betting Party

A near New England sweep is looking more and more likely in 2021. Rhode Island and New Hampshire are already sports betting states, and Massachusetts and Connecticut are among the most likely states to get legislation passed. That leaves Maine and Vermont.

Maine nearly passed sports betting legislation in 2020 and is likely to take a second crack at it in 2021.

Vermont is Vermont, and the notoriously anti-gambling state could be the only non-sports betting state in the region when the calendar flips to 2022.

This prediction is high confidence for two of the three to pass legislation and medium confidence for all three to pass legislation.

Prediction #5: Sports betting legalization stalls elsewhere

There are a few other sports betting candidates lurking (Missouri, Georgia, and Ohio), but at the end of the day, if a state hasn’t passed a bill at this point, it’s safe to assume there are serious impediments. As was the case with DFS, a big first wave of states jumped at the opportunity, followed by what looks like a slow trickle of states in the ensuing years.

We expect states to start upping their demands for sports betting as states like Pennsylvania are reaping the rewards, while industry-friendly states like Colorado are struggling to collect $1 million in taxes every month.

This prediction is medium confidence.

Prediction #6: The M&As Slow Down

The US sports betting opportunity led to a spate of mergers and acquisitions. We’ve seen companies looking to build on or cement their current place in the US sports betting hierarchy or position themselves for entry into the burgeoning space. Thus far, there has been no shortage of buyers, sellers, or companies looking to combine their operations with other big-name players.

We believe that trend will stall in 2021 for the following reasons:

  • The industry is running out of potential targets.
  • The benefits of these acquisitions and mergers have yet to be realized.

There is one exception, as many of the tie-ups have created redundant products that are likely to be spun off.

This prediction is low confidence.

Prediction #7: BetCris closes in on US license

One of the more controversial news themes in 2020 was the inroads offshore books appear to be making towards receiving US sports betting licenses.

There was the direct acknowledgment of these efforts by 5Dimes, and the growing partnerships between offshore sportsbooks and US professional sports leagues.

All of these developments are pointing towards offshore books deftly positioning themselves for US licenses. And with the US market comprised of dozens of individual markets, offshores will have several possible entry points, and to get the ball rolling, they’ll only need to convince one state.

We don’t expect a license to be granted in 2021, but we believe there will be discussions.

This prediction is medium confidence.

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