For Super Bowl LIII, around $325 million was wagered legally in the U.S.. According to many accounts, over $6 billion in bets were seen between the legal and the illegal markets, although it’s difficult to know exactly how much would have been bet illegally. With more states now offering legalized sports gambling, the gambling industry is prepared to see gamblers begin to switch toward legal bets, and the hopes are that the legal industry will pick up at least $400 million, according to PlayUSA.com. A good prop bet for the upcoming NFL Championship would be an Over/Under on $400 million in legal wagers – the Over would definitely win.
There are now 13 states in the U.S. that allow legal sports wagers, giving access to over 70 million potential gamblers. The list includes Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Compared to last year’s legal market, which only included seven states, exposure to legal gambling has more than doubled.
Forbes sports reporter Kristi Dosh quotes PlayUSA.com lead analyst Dustin Gouker as explaining, “With the proliferation of legal sports betting across the U.S., there is no doubt that this will be a record year for legal bets on the Super Bowl. An interesting matchup that is nearly a pick ’em will help spur action, too. As a result, records in states such as Nevada and New Jersey, where both online and retail sports betting were legal for last year’s game, are also in jeopardy.”
With 70 million potential gamblers ready to embrace the big game, compared to the 30 million from last year, breaking the $400-million mark shouldn’t be difficult. Given that eight of the now legal states, Indiana, Iowa, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia, now allow online wagers, as well, the odds for the Over on a legal gambling market prop bet to hit become even greater.
Explains Gouker, “Not only has the number of legal sports jurisdictions doubled from last year’s game, states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania have boomed. That all adds up to a historic weekend ahead for sports betting… Online and mobile sportsbooks are a key tool in driving in-game and prop betting, giving states with a robust digital presence a significant advantage. In New Jersey, nearly 88% of all bets were made online in December. And that allows operators to attract bettors with prop bets and keep them engaged with in-game betting.”
According to a survey by DraftKings, interest in Super Bowl gambling is at an all-time high. The survey only polled 1,000 people, so it may not be the best source of data, but DraftKings found out that 31% of the US population has already placed a wager on the game. Additionally, 82% of the population – a staggering amount – are interested in gambling on the Super Bowl.
According to Betfirm, the amount of money wagered on the annual NFL Championship game has increased steadily since 1991. The only noticeable drop came between Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII the following year, which saw a decrease of about $1.6 million in bets. This could be primarily due to the fact that the Buffalo Bills were making their fourth consecutive appearance and fans were tired of seeing the same results year after year.
With the substantial gains in the legal gambling industry, the prevalence of online sportsbooks and the attention the activity is getting, it’s hard to imagine this year’s Super Bowl not easily breaking well above $400 million in legal wagers. This is just the beginning, too, as next year will have an even larger field of action as more states embrace sports gambling.