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Headline Grabbers in the U.S. Legal Sports Betting Scene

Jimmy Garoppolo #10 of the San Francisco 49ers looks toward the sidelines during the 4th quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on January 22, 2022 (Photo by Patrick McDermott / Getty Images via AFP)

This past weekend’s scintillating NFL Divisional Round capped off yet another fluid few days in the U.S. legal sports betting scene. Upsets in the NFL playoffs were joined by numbers trickling in from participating U.S. legal wagering states, a potential game-changing development in Nevada’s sports betting scene, PointsBet‘s big week, and hiccups for Florida and Maryland concerning the launch of their platforms.

Let’s catch up on a few headline grabbers from the betting industry’s past few days.

NFL Divisional Round Provides Plenty of Drama

Betting activity from this past weekend’s NFL Divisional Round was heavy, and unlike last week, there were plenty of upsets to keep bettors and oddsmakers on their toes.

Three underdogs prevailed in what may go down as one of the most exciting weekends of NFL playoff action in years. Cincinnati outlasted Tennessee as a 4-point road underdog, the 49ers shocked the Packers as a 6-point dog, and the Rams tried hard to hand the Bucs a win but prevailed as a 3-point underdog. The Chiefs were lucky to emerge as the only favorite to prevail.

If the Divisional Round taught us anything, it’s that anything can happen. Oddsmakers already have the Chiefs as solid favorites to top the Bengals Sunday and the Rams as 3.5-point favorites to beat the 49ers. Make sure to keep an eye on our NFL Picks page for up-to-date info on the best picks for this weekend.

Pennsylvania and Mississippi Release December Sports Betting Numbers

Numbers from participating legal sports betting states continue to trickle in and follow a general trend of month-over-month percentage dips.

• Pennsylvania, which has consistently ranked as a top-3 legal sports betting state, is out with their December report, which revealed a slight drop in month-to-month sports wagering activity. In December, the state's sportsbooks took a still-impressive $750.4 million, a 1.47% slide from the $761.6 million reported in November. 

• Mississippi's December sports betting handle came in at $56.8 million in December, a 6.17% month-to-month drop from the $60.6 million reported in November. 

Nevada's Move to Modernize

Last week, Nevada finally moved toward modernization of sports wagering in the grandfather state of legal gambling. Previously home to a mobile sports betting platform that required a visit to a brick-and-mortar facility to sign up, the Nevada Gaming Commission finally granted bettors the opportunity to register for mobile sites and fund mobile betting accounts remotely. 

The change puts Nevada's legal sports betting scene on par with other heavyweight betting states like New Jersey and Pennsylvania, which consistently report over 90% of their monthly handles coming from mobile providers.

Nevada has been topping out in the high-60% range concerning its mobile app contributions. That number is sure to rise with news of the regulatory change.

The bottom line should be a massive boost to Nevada's overall legal sports betting handle.

PointsBet's Good Week

One of the heavyweight providers in the U.S. legal sports betting industry, PointsBet, ended last week with good news on two fronts. The legal sports betting provider was granted a license to operate in what has been a top-3 U.S. sports betting jurisdiction in Pennsylvania while also putting the final touches on an impending launch into New York. 

PointsBet, who will get the advertising benefit of their exclusive partnership with NBC Sports, was granted a license to operate in Pennsylvania Thursday thanks to their relationship with Penn National Gaming.

Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Rush Street Interactive have been operating in the state for the whole two weeks, with BetMGM being added to the family a week ago. Meanwhile, PointsBet is just waiting on regulatory approval to launch in what has already been an impressive New York mobile scene. Once those hurdles are cleared, PointsBet joins a market that reported over $600 million in wagers during its first two weeks.

Florida and Maryland certainly aren't making it easy on regulators hoping to launch what is potentially a lucrative and comprehensive legal sports betting platform.

It continues to be a mess in Florida, with the enormous question that remains about parlaying that support into enough signatures to get the subject on the next election ballot. The deadline for the petition is about a month away and isn’t near where it needs to be.

Maryland continues to be without an actual timeline for its mobile sports wagering platform. Last week, the Sports Wagering Application Review Commission (SWARC) meeting provided little clarity. The meeting between the Maryland Lottery and Gaming Control Agency the next day was disappointing.

Maryland seems to still be on a late-2022 timeline for the launch of a mobile sports betting platform - there are faint hopes that the start of the 2022-2023 NFL season in September is in play. It will certainly be something the eyes of the U.S. legal sports betting universe will be keeping an eye on.

BetMGM Reports on 2021 and Prognosticates 2022 

BetMGM provided an update on their 2021 performance and a peek into what they think 2022 will look like for the company late last week.

Highlights included:

• BetMGM is achieving market share in line with its long-term target of 20% - 25% in U.S. sports betting and iGaming

• Live in 19 jurisdictions – 4 iGaming, 19 sports betting

• Strong financial performance in F.Y. 2021

• F.Y. 2022 net revenue from operations expected to be over $1.3 billion

• BetMGM anticipates reaching positive EBITDA in 2023, based on its current assumption of future live markets

A Few Other Headlines Worth a Quick Mention

• Louisiana reported a respectable $39.5 million sports betting handle for December despite the lack of a mobile platform. There is still no clear answer as to when the more lucrative mobile wing will launch after Thursday's Louisiana Gaming Control Board meeting. But before the Super Bowl, February 13 is still the goal.

• Happy 1st Birthday Michigan and Virginia Legal Sports Betting Industries. Michigan’s Birthday came on January 22, while Virginia celebrated one year of legal sports betting on January 21. Both have become reliable members of the monthly handle “Top-10 Club” – terrific additions to the U.S. legal sports betting family.

Bettor Best Awards of the Weekend

Moneyline Miracles - A PointsBet bettor wagered $5,000 on the four moneyline winners of the NFL Divisional Round. He was able to cash when Patrick Mahomes got his team into field-goal range with 13 seconds to go in the 4th quarter to tie and ultimately lead his team on a game-winning touchdown drive on the first possession of overtime. 

Similarly, a bettor won $2,550 on the Kansas City moneyline (+1600) with 13 seconds left in regulation after placing a $150 wager on the FanDuel app.

Make sure to keep an eye on our Live Odds page throughout the week to get the best lines possible and connect with others in the SBR community on our popular sports betting forum.