The United States has had a tumultuous few years as far as legal sports betting is concerned. Turbulent, but headed in an optimistic direction. As 2023 concludes, the official count of states with legal betting framework settles at 37, plus the District of Columbia.
States that legalized the activity this year include Kentucky and Maine. Vermont, while not yet operational, also passed legislation. Not all states with legal sports betting allow wagering through online operators, but a majority do. North Carolina is set to join the list shortly. Among the states to attempt, and fail, to pass any sort of legal sports betting legislation this year are Texas, California, Oklahoma and Georgia.
Regardless, it's safe to say that legalizing sports betting has been a successful endeavor in a majority of the U.S. Earlier this month, the American Gaming Associationreported, "Through September, commercial sports betting remains on a track for another record-setting year. Revenue reached $7.20 billion through the first nine months, 52.9 percent higher than the same period last year and nearly matching the full-year 2022 revenue of $7.18 billion. Year-to-date handle stands at $79.76 billion, a 24.5 percent annual increase."
Bookmakers are not shy to capitalize on this emerging market. And now, as football, basketball, golf and MMA fans (among others) immerse themselves in the latest games, sports betting operators and apps are vying for the number one spot.
For example, mid-November saw the launch of ESPN Bet, a collaboration between ESPN and PENN Entertainment—and with that, new betting promotions and bonus codes. ESPN Bet launched in 17 states so far.
ESPN Bet was eager to launch in time for the major Thanksgiving sporting events, including the NFL's infamous tripleheader. December will also see a huge opportunity for the new sportsbook, as well as established platforms.
In the realm of college ball, December is set to see a total of 36 bowl games, including the immensely popular Cotton Bowl, Peach Bowl and Orange Bowl. Bowl games will run from December 16th to 30th.
When it comes to the NFL, weeks 13-17 are scheduled throughout December. Plus, Christmas Day will see three significant matchups: Raiders at Chiefs, Giants at Eagles and Ravens at 49ers—operators are sure to see major betting action with holiday cheer to boot.
College basketball will see various championship conference games in December including the Pac-12, Big 12, SEC, ACC, Big Ten, MAC and Mountain West. According to an ESPN post-Thanksgiving analysis, "The Arizona matchup on Dec. 16 might be the game of the year: The No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams In Indianapolis."
Over in NCAA Women’s Basketball, December 3rd will see its own tripleheader in the first-ever 'Jimmy V Women’s Classic,' featuring some of this year's most widely discussed teams, including UConn, Ohio State and South Carolina.
Early December brings the NBA's East and West quarterfinals on December 4th & 5th, semifinals on December 7th and final on December 9th—all in Las Vegas. Additionally, Christmas Day includes 5 major faceoffs: Bucks vs. Knicks, Warriors vs. Nuggets, Celtics vs. Lakers, 76ers vs. Heat and Mavericks vs. Suns.
Golf enthusiasts have two major events to look forward to in December: the PGA Grant Thornton Invitational from December 8-10 and the PGA Tour Q-School presented by Korn Ferry from December 14-17.
Finally, the first weeks of December will feature UFC Fight Night on December 9th, as well as additional bowl games throughout the month. There are many flavors of sports to bet on as fans ramp up to close the year and usher in what's slated to be an exciting 2024.