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Super Bowl LV was perhaps the biggest event in American sports history in one category: legal sports betting.

This year, no less than 23 million Americans have bet on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to the American Gaming Association. Bets on underdogs and eventual Buccaneers winners or defending champions, Chiefs – and many other aspects of the game – have exceeded the staggering sum of $ 4 billion.

But being able to legally bet on sports is a relatively new development in most of the United States, where sports betting was only legal in Nevada until 2018.

It was then that the United States Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a federal law – the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, or PASPA, of 1992 – that restricted regulated sports betting in Nevada. It’s now legal in 20 states, and many more are pushing to legalize it.

The growth of legal sports betting has been “extraordinary” since then, a ESPN story mentionned.

“In 2019, over $ 13 billion was legally wagered,” said Casey Clark, senior vice president of strategic communications at the American Gaming Association. “When all the numbers are counted for 2020, that number will exceed $ 21 billion. ”

The sports betting capital of the United States is no longer Nevada: This is New Jersey where people have placed $ 6 billion in bets last year compared to $ 4.3 billion in Nevada, according to sports betting expert Darren Rovell.

With people confined to homes due to the pandemic, 80% of games nationwide are played on mobile devices, Clark says.

“Almost all Americans will have a casino in their back pocket at all times,” says Marc Edelman, a sports law expert who teaches at the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, New York. It’s reasonable to expect a majority of states to legalize online sports betting within the next five years, Edelman says.

Pro tip

If you want to bet on big game, experts recommend that you only bet what you are looking to lose and treat it as entertainment only.

With the increasing ease of legally betting on sports, you might be asking yourself: should I participate?

There are people who chose their bets correctly and made millions, Edelman says, but they are rare. “For most people, betting is meant to be an entertainment activity rather than an investment,” he says.

In fact, if you think you have what it takes because you’re a huge sports fan, you might want to think twice: Sports betting is a game for number geeks. According to Edelman, those who have traditionally been most successful are those with strong mathematical skills and who can envision complex analyzes.

For these enthusiasts, there are two main players in the sports betting industry, websites FanDuel and DraftKings. They dominate the market in states that have what is called “full online sports betting with multiple options” – Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, according to the sports betting information and analysis site Action Network.

In most states today, sports betting is still illegal. The others fall into three groups. In one, as in New York, sports betting is legalized in a small number of physical casinos. In another group, such as Tennessee, online sports betting is allowed, although sports betting in casinos is not. In the fourth group, like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, sports betting in casinos and online is legalized and regulated.

Wherever you are, however, sports betting remains betting, with all its risks. You shouldn’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

Clark notes that his organization developed a PSA earlier this year, Have a game plan, for punters to educate themselves on how to bet responsibly. They can also use a interactive map for more information on the types of sports betting legal in their country.

For people who want to bet on sports, Edelman suggests wagering a small amount of money, and doing it only for entertainment: “Don’t put yourself in the kind of position. [where] losing will take a toll on your daily life, ”he says.

You should stick with a licensed bookmaker like Points bet, as well as FanDuel or DraftKings, advises Edelman. This will ensure that your potential winnings are paid to you and minimize the risk of identity fraud.

If you prefer to bet in person, “make sure you do it in a fun and social way with people you know and trust,” he says. (In addition to respecting social distancing and any COVID-19 guidelines from local authorities, of course.)

Super Bowl or not, sports betting can be a fun way to make some extra cash if it’s safe to do so, but we certainly don’t recommend participating as a short or long term financial strategy. If you are looking to grow the money in your bank account in a low risk way, you had better put it in a high yield savings account and, when the next Super Bowl rolls around, enjoy it like most Americans: focus on the commercials, not the bets you may have made.

If you or someone you love needs help with a gambling problem, the National Council on Problem Gambling offers a phone or text help line at 1-800-522-4700, as well as support. by chat to ncpgambling.org/chat.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson