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State-by-state sportsbook guide with Leadstar Media

| By Laura Gumbrell | Reading Time: 6 minutes
Affiliate powerhouse Leadstar Media has launched Sportsbookonline.com, the industry's new one-stop shop for a breakdown of the top US sportsbooks. Tackling the US market for affiliates, iGB spoke to Patrick Corkery, website manager and associate team leader at Leadstar, to explore the enormity of legislation across the pond.

The American appetite for gambling accelerated in the first quarter of 2023. The combined revenue from land-based casino slot machines and table games was $12.30bn, up 7.0%, while sports betting brought in $2.79bn, an increase of 70.1%, and igaming totalled $1.4bn, up 22.7% from 2022.

But since the overturn of PASPA in 2018, states have been responsible for deciding whether sports betting should be legalised in their own territories. Industry-wide, we’ve grown accustomed to the series of hoops states in the US have to jump through, but with 33 states and the district of Columbia choosing to legalise since February 2023, and 24 jurisdictions now allowing online betting, it’s harder than ever to keep up.

Leading the way in US legislation

The importance of providing an in-depth overview to novice bettors was highlighted in a study from WagerWire. It found non-bettors were 78% more likely to bet online if they were educated on how to do so. 

A lack of education and understanding were often cited as reasons for not participating in sports betting. For example, 43% of non-bettors stated “they don’t feel like they know enough about sports betting” while 41% said “they don’t know enough about how to bet online.” Add this to the unique sets of circumstances surrounding US betting legislation, and it’s no wonder players are in need of a product which breaks state-by-state regulation down to the basics.

Now Leadstar Media is offering a solution to navigating the states with its latest product, Sportsbooksonline.com, a website that clearly and concisely lays out the legal and regulated sportsbooks and casinos in each American state.

Nation vs state

In states such as Maryland, Ohio and, most recently, Massachusetts, the US betting market is entering a brave new world as legal betting becomes widely available. However, Patrick Corkery suggests the disparity between states such as Montana, which allows in-person betting but prohibits online gambling, and Tennessee, which accepts online sports betting but bans in-person gambling, has only served to emphasise that there simply is no one-size-fits-all approach.

And the quicker we understand the intricacies of each state the better. “With the US market specifically, the big challenge has to be how operators are governed on a state level as well as a national level,” he says. “It’s different to any other market that we work in, as every state where we are authorised to operate has specific standards that must be met.

“For our sites, we tend to have a one-size-fits-all approach on the pages intended for a national audience. This means that we try to please as many stakeholders as possible there. Conversely, in the US, most of our sites also feature state-level pages that are catered specifically to the requirements of each region.”

The answer: Sportsbooksonline.com

Leadstar secured both its sports betting and internet gaming supplier licences in the state of Michigan in January of this year, building on its already strong US presence and positioning the company at the centre of one of the fastest developing markets worldwide. Leadstar is now firmly in US waters and the team is prepared to help players in every state as and when those states legalise. 

Sportsbooksonline.com is one of Leadstar’s high-quality, localised products. It provides expert analysis of the top US sportsbooks and guides to the best bonuses available to help customers find online sportsbooks that meet their needs. 

From listing the pros and cons of each operator in an engaging format, information in state-by-state categories, visuals of each operator and the welcoming bonuses on offer, the website truly is a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about US sportsbooks.

To promote compliance and player safety, the guide only lists and reviews operators that are licensed and regulated by state gaming boards. By using the state’s legal online sportsbooks instead of offshore sites, players can benefit from safer and more accessible payment methods such as Visa, Mastercard and PayPal, reliable and efficient withdrawals, and greater protection of data from fraudsters thanks to strong security measures such as Secure Sockets Layer (SSL).

A new approach to advertising?

Many countries have been compelled to change their sports betting culture over the years to support both operators and players, and with the global appeal of US sports, it’s possible regulators in the country will encounter similar challenges.

In the UK, for example, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that gambling advertising cannot have a “strong” appeal to children. Consequently, gambling firms can no longer employ popular sportspeople to market their products and must put in place procedures to safeguard young and impressionable audiences.

Similarly, Corkery anticipates gambling firms, broadcasters and sports organisations will begin to face resistance in the United States, driving an even deeper desire for a product that stays up to date. “I think there will be tighter regulations on the advertising of sports betting brands,” he says. “Commercials for online sportsbooks are virtually inescapable if you’re watching sports these days, and you’re starting to see some pushback.”

Recent state launches suggest this pushback is already happening. “Ohio and Massachusetts have both recently launched with a lot of hand-wringing over advertising regulations, and the American Gaming Association has tightened the guidelines around how bonuses can be advertised.”

In March, the AGA reviewed its Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering to protect impressionable young adults by prohibiting college partnerships that promote, market or advertise sports wagering activity. Of course, adding in measures such as age restriction (21+), banning the use of “risk free” in advertising and enhancing protection for college-aged audiences will undoubtedly make it harder for operators to advertise. 

However, cracking down on regulation isn’t all bad. It often protects and boosts affiliate reputations, helps mitigate compliance risk and prevents fraud from non-compliant affiliates. It also means more opportunities for companies like Leadstar as a whole.

As Corkery says, none of these measures are likely to kill a multibillion-dollar market, however the cat’s out of the bag “The regulated sports betting industry is here to stay in the US and will most likely be legal in even more states in a few years. Once Texas, California or Florida enter the ring, it feels like only a matter of time before most states that don’t currently have legal sports betting follow suit.”

The prizes still to be won: Texas case study

Recent estimates from gaming research company Eilers & Krejcik show that Texas could generate $2.3bn in gross gaming revenue after an initial 4-5 year period were it to regulate and could therefore bank approximately $180m in tax revenue – money that could be used to fund public welfare. As a result, state governors are reconsidering the possibility of legalising sports betting.

“The US has the potential to be the biggest online sports betting market in the world and those three massive states failing to go live are what’s holding it back a bit right now,” says Corkery.

Rick Perry, the former US secretary of energy and Texas governor is now a spokesman for the Texas Sports Betting Alliance. He has highlighted widespread support for the legislation, noting it was backed by every professional sports team in Texas. “There’s never been this coming together, to work on one issue [before],” he said on iGB’s World Series of Politics podcast in March.

“I’ve been in politics since around 1984, so I’ve seen a lot of interesting efforts but this one caught my attention for a number of reasons,” he told the podcast. “Not least, that it is abundantly clear to me that the people of the state of Texas enjoy their sports. They are fanatical about it.”

The Leadstar gameplan

If Corkery’s prediction of stricter regulation is correct, Leadstar remains in a strong position to inform and empower players across America and beyond. It’s clear that in many states, including Texas, the drive is there. It’s now up to affiliate companies Like Leadstar to point players in the right direction.

Alongside Leadstar’s Sportsbooksonline.com is Unitedgamblers.com, which pools the legal online casinos and poker rooms in each state. Leadstar has even made a foray into the US Spanish-speaking market with the launch of Miscasasdeapuestas.com/us and has released a similar product for the French-speaking market in Canada, named Leonparisportif.com/ca.

While the American gambling industry is still evolving, Leadstar is determined to seize every opportunity. “At this stage, we operate in just about every state that we can. It’s now more about taking more market share as we’ve already set up shop.” Corkery says.

“The good thing about the US market is that there’s always a chance to grow. New states are constantly discussing legislation to legalise sports betting for their residents, so that opens up future possibilities. But at this point, we’re focusing on improving the depth and quality of our content so we can reach more and more users where we already work.”

In this constantly moving market, Leadstar’s sports betting products represent an invaluable source of information to players and operators. With huge potential in markets like Georgia and Vermont, both of which are discussing plans to give betting the green light next year, and a US sports betting market estimated to be worth $23.2bn by 2030, the future looks bright for both Leadstar and the industry as a whole.

Patrick Corkery is a Website Manager & Associate Team Leader for the Stockholm-based igaming affiliate company Leadstar Media. He manages the company’s several US-facing products.

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