In the span of a few short years, the popularity of betting on American football has increased exponentially. But while many fans recently discovered football betting, wagering on American football games is not a new phenomenon. It has a long history both in America and abroad, and that history continues to unfold. In fact, there are several betting sites in Canada, giving bettors several options that they can compare to one another to find the one that fits them best. While that’s the current state of betting on American football, let’s take a look back at how we got to that point.
Gambling on the North American continent dates back to the Jamestown settlement in the 1600s. During that time, a lottery was held to help raise money. Modern gambling, on the other hand, dates back to 1931 when the state of Nevada legalized gambling. In 1951, Nevada legalized sports betting as well. However, by that time, illegal betting on NFL games was already happening.
By the 1930s, bookies were coming up with ways to place spreads on football games. During the 1940s, a model was developed in which bettors would wager $110 in order to win $100. This helped to ensure that bookies would make a profit on a game if they were able to take an equal number of bets on each side of the point spread. This remains a fundamental part of betting on American football to this day.
However, by the time Nevada legalized sports betting in 1951, illegal bookies were well ahead of the game. The legal form of sports betting didn’t start to grow until the legal sports betting tax was reduced from 10% to 2% and sports wagering was allowed in casinos. This opened the door for other states to allow sports betting in their casinos, helping legal sports betting to expand beyond the state of Nevada.
There was another watershed moment in 1992 when the U.S. passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This outlawed any type of sports betting outside the state of Nevada other than dog and horse racing. As a result, overseas gambling entities had full reign over American football betting. While this prohibited American sports fans from betting on football unless they were in Nevada, it did help to increase the popularity of the NFL outside of the U.S., especially in the U.K.
Of course, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2018. This opened the door for individual states to legalize sports betting as they saw fit. Several states have legalized betting on American football in other sports on mobile platforms and brick-and-mortar locations, while others have decided to keep sports betting strictly within casinos. Either way, by 2023, more than 30 states have legalized sports betting in some form or another.
Not surprisingly, football has become the most popular sport for bettors in the U.S. Roughly half of all sports bets placed in the U.S. are bet on American football. Since the first days of modern sports gambling in the 1930s, American football has been at the forefront of betting. With the rapid expansion of betting in recent years and the likelihood of sports betting continuing to grow, that is unlikely to change, with American football being a prominent part of the future of sports betting all over the world.