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Navy vs. Notre Dame kicks off college football season 2023 and the associated sports betting

Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, usually hosts rugby matches. On Saturday, Aug. 26, it will once again be configured to meet U.S. college football dimensions for a Navy-Notre Dame game. Here's how Aviva looked in 2012 when the two teams played there. (Photo by Papachinzo via Wikipedia CC)

The 2023 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college football season kicks off this Saturday. I'll be yelling (yes, literally screaming at my TV in joy and, no doubt, frustration) for the Naval Academy's midshipmen as they take on Notre Dame in Ireland.

Yep, the country of Ireland. Talk about an international home field advantage.  

The nearly 100-year-old intersectional meeting of Navy and Notre Dame will be before a sold-out crowd of more than 48,000 in Dublin's Aviva Stadium. An estimated 40,000 of the spectators will be U.S. fans who are making the transatlantic trek.

The gridiron — can I still call it that even though Aviva usually hosts European football and rugby matches? — spectacle is a fitting start to a college season that over the summer underwent some dramatic conference changes.

College conference turnovers: California's one-time powerhouses UCLA and USC will be playing their last season as part of the Pac-12. They're headed to the Big Ten in 2024.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 will have 14 members this season. You'd think that when UT-Austin and OU go to the SEC next year, the Big 12 would then be correctly named, at least mathematically. But no, in 2024, the conference is adding four schools, meaning (if my math is correct) the Big 12 will have 16 schools.

Some college football things, however, never seem to change. The SEC begins 2023 as the top football conference. Again.

And two-time defending national champion Georgia is the team to beat. Again.

Record-setting sports betting: Another college football constant is betting on the games. The practice has been legal since the 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave states the right to decide whether to allow sports wagers within their borders.

So far, 37 states and Washington, D.C., have authorized such transactions. Not all are taking bets just yet, but the option is on its way.

The start of summer and a reduced sports calendar slowed the bets a bit, notes the American Gaming Association (AGA), the national trade group representing the U.S. casino industry, in its Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker for the second quarter of 2023.

Still, notes the AGA, second quarter sports wagering revenue jumped 58.5 percent year-over-year to $2.33 billion. That's a new second quarter record.

Of the quarterly total, $347.1 million was generated in states that didn't have working sports betting operations a year ago. The new revenue producers were Kansas, Massachusetts, and Ohio.

Even excluding these new markets, the AGA says quarterly sports betting revenue was up 34.9 percent year-over-year. Nationwide, Americans bet $23.91 billion on sports in the second quarter, accelerating by 21.7 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

Six months into this year, the AGA says commercial sports betting remains on track for another record-setting year. Through June 2023, the year-to-date total hit $5.18 billion, up 66.5 percent from the same period last year. Same market revenue grew 40.1 percent compared to the first half of 2022.

More state tax money: The expansion of all commercial gaming revenue has led to a windfall in 2023 taxes for state and local governments.

In 2023's second quarter, the AGA says gaming operations paid an estimated $3.62 billion in direct gaming taxes to state and local governments.

Estimated Q2 gaming tax revenue growth of 9.6 percent outpaced the 8.3 percent growth in gaming revenue. This quarterly growth is in large part due to the domination of by sports betting and iGaming, sectors that are on average subject to higher tax rates, according to the AGA.

At the halfway point, the gaming industry is on track to generate more gaming tax revenue for state and local governments in 2023 than in any previous year. The approximately $7.28 billion in gaming taxes paid during the first six months is 13.0 percent ahead of the same period in 2022.

And given American sports' fans love of college and professional football, you can bet that this weekend will be the start of that increase.

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