After disruption from the pandemic, the Olympic Games are finally set to begin in Tokyo, Japan. Although Tokyo might feel like a world away for most Americans, for sports bettors in certain states, the action is closer than ever.
The 2021 Tokyo Games mark the first time that legal betting on the Olympics will be more widely available in the U.S. Many people plan to capitalize on this opportunity, as an estimated 8% of U.S. adults will place bets on the Tokyo Games according to GamblingGuy.com.
This is big news for sportsbooks and the travel industry for a number of states. This is because if people want to bet on the Olympics but sports betting isn’t legal in their states, they might travel to nearby states with legal sports betting to do so. Crossing state borders to place a sports bet is already a common occurrence. In fact, 74% of sports bettors in New York have traveled to New Jersey or Pennsylvania to make a legal bet.
As with regular sports betting, people might travel to neighboring states with legal sports betting during the Olympics to get the experience of a physical sportsbook - similar to March Madness in Nevada where thousands of people hang out at sportsbooks all day and watch the games. In addition, people might travel so they don’t have to deal with the risk and headache that comes with signing up for illegitimate offshore sportsbooks that only take cryptocurrency or other questionable forms of payment. It’s much easier - and safer - to instead cross state lines and sign up to bet in a state where it’s legal.
Crossing borders to bet on the Olympics will inevitably lead to other forms of tourism for the states where it’s legal. As a result, visitors will bring in revenue from not only sportsbooks, but also lodging and accommodations, food and drink, and other activities Olympic bettors could engage in while visiting.
During the Rio Olympics in August 2016, for example, Nevada residents wagered millions on miscellaneous sports betting. That included the Olympics, golf, boxing, and other less popular sports. In the 2021 Olympics, that spending is expected to grow - especially given that the
Olympics is a unique case when it comes to sports betting. People can bet on countries, medal tables, and individual and team sports such as gymnastics, soccer, and basketball.
The popularity of Olympic sports betting in Nevada signals many opportunities for the travel industry in other states whose summer seasons were write-offs last year. In addition to Nevada, betting on the Olympics is legal in Colorado, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, and even Virginia, where it was previously not allowed. If you operate in any of those states, prepare to see more revenue coming in from residents and tourists looking to try their hand at Olympics betting. After a year of turmoil for the travel industry, the 2021 Olympics are sure to be a milestone.