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Legal sports betting hit unprecedented heights in the US over the course of 2020. The emergence of surging mobile wagering markets in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois point to a promising future for the online sports betting model in the US.

Brands like FanDuel and DraftKings transformed the perception of what’s possible in legal sports betting. The COVID-19 pandemic forced land-based casinos across the country to shut down, then operate at limited capacity for most of the year.

Despite an unforeseen year of challenges for the casino industry, sports betting shattered expectations in the US. Driven by mobile sports betting apps, the industry entered 2021 riding a surge that likely still hasn’t hit its peak.

The Gaming Today revenue tracker focuses on legal online sports betting markets across the US. We update the tracker every two weeks with the latest revenue numbers reported by state gaming regulators.

Mobile Vs. Retail Betting Handle February 2021

*Online-only sports betting markets

**Tribal retail sports betting revenue not available for Michigan

Betting handle figures represent the total amount wagered across all bets at a sportsbook. More than any other metric, state betting handle presents the best way to gauge the viability of a sports betting market.

New Jersey stands atop the US sports betting mountain, bolstered by the nation’s No. 1 mobile wagering market. New Jersey produced just under $743 million in February wagers, with nearly 93% of those bets coming from online sportsbooks.

Nevada hosts the biggest retail sports betting market in the US by far but comes in as the No. 2 overall market in the US behind New Jersey’s mobile-driven juggernaut.

Michigan ($301.8 million mobile betting handle) and Virginia ($265.7 million mobile handle) finished their first full months of online sports betting operations in February. Both new markets appear poised for success based on February handle figures.

As the monthly numbers show, the US sports betting boom relies almost exclusively on the success of mobile sports betting apps.

Mobile Sports Betting Revenue February 2021

Sportsbook win percentage fluctuates from month to month, but in the long term a successful market produces substantial revenue for operators and tax revenue for the state.

New Jersey emerged as the clear revenue winner among US states in February. Online sportsbooks in the Garden State pulled $42.85 million in adjusted revenue, more than three times the amount of any other state.

Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee outpaced Nevada in mobile revenue earnings in February. Virginia and Michigan posted net negative revenues, coming as a result of customer acquisition strategies like welcome bonuses and pre-launch offers.

Note that some states report adjusted mobile sports betting revenue, factoring in promo credits and other adjustments. Others, like Indiana, only report mobile sports betting figures as gross revenue.

Mobile Sports Betting State Tax Revenue February 2021*

*Based on available information; some states don’t report taxable mobile sports betting revenue

US states that legalize online gambling do so with potential tax revenue in mind. Mobile sports betting revenue tax rates vary significantly among different states.

Pennsylvania’s 36% tax on mobile sports betting revenue generally puts the Keystone State at the top of the monthly tax earnings chart. A down month in revenue for Pennsylvania puts Illinois and New Jersey ahead of Pennsylvania in February mobile sports betting tax collection.

Tennessee’s online-only sports betting business model produced $2.6 million in taxes for the state in February. When Michigan and Virginia start realizing positive revenues for their respective sports betting markets, a boost in tax revenues will come along with that success.

2020 Sports Betting Handle (Top US Markets)

New Jersey set the gold standard in US sports betting in 2020, driven by the most prolific mobile sports betting market in the nation. New Jersey sportsbooks took more than $6 billion in bets over the course of the year.

$5.53 billion of that figure came from mobile sports betting apps. Online sportsbooks generated 91.9% of all sports bets placed in New Jersey in 2020.

Nevada reigns supreme as the epicenter of retail sports betting in the US. While COVID-19 shutdowns affected casino operations throughout parts of the year, Nevada’s land-based sportsbooks generated $1.86 billion in betting handle in 2020.

Despite the viability of sportsbooks on the Las Vegas Strip, mobile wagers accounted for 56.5% of overall handle in Nevada.

Pennsylvania ended the year as the No. 2 online sports betting market in the US and No. 3 overall in the country. Illinois, Indiana, and Colorado round out the top six US sports betting markets by handle for 2020.

2020 Aggregate Sports Betting Handle (Top US Markets)

New Jersey stayed atop the legal sports betting industry throughout 2020. Pennsylvania’s flourishing online sports betting market puts in position to compete with Nevada as the No. 2 sports betting market in the US.

Illinois debuted online sports betting in June, and by the end of the year, the Land of Lincoln overtook Colorado and Indiana in 2020 betting handle. Illinois sportsbooks generated $1.88 billion in handle, with mobile sports betting apps accounting for 95.6% of bets.

Colorado, which launched sports betting in May, finished the year as the No. 6 sports betting market in the US. More than any other state, Colorado’s sports betting industry relies on mobile wagering. Online sportsbooks represented 98.4% of total handle in Colorado in 2020.

2020 Sports Betting Revenue (Top US Markets)

New Jersey nearly cleared the $400 million mark in 2020 sports betting revenue. COVID-19 forced Atlantic City casinos to close from mid-March through the end of June, with the casinos only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity through the end of the year.

The restricted access to retail sportsbooks didn’t stop New Jersey’s sports betting industry from realizing enormous success in 2020. The state’s mobile sports betting apps produced $359.4 million in revenue, accounting for 90.5% of all sports betting revenue for the year.

Nevada operates as the only top-six US sports betting market where retail sports betting revenue exceeds mobile earnings. Online sportsbook performance drove Pennsylvania to the No. 2 market share spot in the US by revenue.

Illinois, Indiana, and Colorado all host sports betting markets driven by mobile wagering. The newest arrivals to the 2021 sports betting landscape, Michigan and Virginia, will likely experience the same pattern.

2020 Aggregate Sports Betting Revenue (Top US Markets)

New Jersey led the US legal sports betting charge wire-to-wire throughout 2020. Illinois launched mobile sports betting in June, and ended up as a top-five revenue market by the end of the year.

Each of the nation’s top five sports betting markets (New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois) generated at least $125 million in 2020. The end-of-year revenue figures for the end of 2021 will likely top the benchmarks set in 2020 as the US sports betting industry continues to boom.

2020 Mobile Sports Betting State Tax Revenue (Top US Markets)

Pennsylvania’s place at the top of the state tax revenue list comes as no surprise. The Keystone State taxes gross sports betting revenue at 36%, the highest rate of any state with legal sports wagering.

New Jersey (13% tax on mobile sports betting revenue) brought in $46.7 million in sports betting taxes, a testament to the success of the state’s online sportsbooks in 2020.

Illinois (15% online sports betting tax) levies the third-highest online sports betting tax rate in the US, while Indiana (9.5%) and Colorado (10%) both utilize operator-friendly tax structures.

2020 Mobile Apps Per State Comparison (Top US Markets)

State2020 Mobile Betting HandleNumber of different mobile sports betting apps*
New Jersey$5.53 billion21
Pennsylvania$3.28 billion11
Illinois$1.8 billion5
Indiana$1.47 billion10
Colorado$1.16 billion16
Iowa$405.2 million8
West Virginia$265.3 million5

*Total apps available at the end of 2020

Do more choices lead to more success for states that launch legal sports betting? All of the top mobile sports betting markets in the US offer at least five different online sportsbooks, with New Jersey topping the list at 21 mobile sports betting apps operating by the end of 2020.

New Jersey’s spot atop the US sports betting market is no doubt at least somewhat driven by the diversity of the market. FanDuel and DraftKings stand as market leaders in virtually all states in which they operate, but the US sports betting boom also includes the rise of several other brands.

William Hill, BetRivers, BetMGM, and PointsBet all operate in several US states. Other platforms, like FOX Bet and WynnBET, will likely expand in the US as the sports betting industry continues to grow.

Several land-based casinos operate in-house branded sportsbooks. New Jersey’s mobile sportsbooks include such platforms from Golden Nugget, Borgata, Resorts, and several others.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based freelance writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff is an avid sports fan, but poker is his passion.

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