Sports wagers on Super Bowl LV to break records

Football stadium with light effects.
Football stadium with light effects.

It’s not possible to talk too much about the upcoming Super Bowl this weekend. This is expected to be one of the hottest Big Games in history, with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looking to keep Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs from winning their second consecutive Lombardi Trophy. The hype has been building for a while and, as Super Bowl LV approaches, it is beginning to look like the game is going to be another huge success for the sports gambling market.

Over the past 12 months, since Super Bowl LIV was held, 36 million more Americans can now place wagers in legal markets in the U.S. As a result, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA), it is estimated that 23.2 million Americans will place bets, with $4.3 billion expected to be wagered. Leading the crowd will be online wagers, with 7.6 million gamblers forecast to turn to online sportsbooks this year. That’s a 63% increase from last year. 

Bill Miller, AGA’s president and CEO, predicts, “This year’s Super Bowl is expected to generate the largest single-event legal handle in American sports betting history. With a robust legal market, Americans are abandoning illegal bookies and taking their action into the regulated marketplace in record numbers.” 

The figures, which were provided through a limited survey conducted by Morning Consult, show an overall drop in gambling dollars to be spent this year. This is primarily due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation; however, if history repeats itself, the prediction will fall short of the actual handle after all the numbers are run through calculators. There are now 21 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have legal sports gambling markets up and running. Four other states have approved the activity, but haven’t been able to work quickly enough to get everything in place in time for the Big Game. Last year, it was predicted that around $6 billion would be wagered on the game, but the final tally was over $21 billion.

With the online sports gambling segment expected to see an increase in Super Bowl activity, other segments have to lose some of their market share. The survey indicates that live sportsbook wagers are expected to drop by 61% this year, with 1.4 million Americans making in-person bets, and bookie bets will lose 21%. Gambling pools could see a loss of about 19% of their activity, with casual betting between friends shrinking by 18%. It isn’t clear where Mattress Mack stands in all of this, or if he plans on trying to recover the $1 million he lost taking the San Francisco 49ers against the Chiefs in last year’s Super Bowl.