Record number of Americans betting on the NFL this season

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) passes the ball during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on January 23, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.

William Purnell | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

As legalized sports gambling expands in the U.S., a record 73.5 million Americans plan to bet on the NFL this season, according to the American Gaming Association’s latest survey of Americans’ betting plans released Wednesday.

An estimated 46 million people bet on the NFL in the United States last year the AGA.

The association said its survey found that 19% of American adults plan to place a bet online, in a casino or at a bookmaker this year, up 56% from a year ago. Of all U.S. adults, 35.1 million people, or 14%, plan to bet online, while 13.6 million, or 5%, plan to bet at a physical sportsbook.

Self-proclaimed NFL fans are expected to place more bets than ever before this season, with 37% expected to place a bet. That is 42% more than in the previous year.

Sports bettors are expecting a blessing as the first NFL game of the season begins Thursday.

“We expect this to be the busiest NFL season in BetMGM history,” Seamus Magee, head of the trading team at BetMGM, told CNBC in an email.

NFL warms up to gambling

The NFL was once a staunch opponent of sports gambling. But the league changed its tune when the Supreme Court cleared the way for states to legalize sports betting in 2018.

Sports betting is now legal in 34 states and in Washington, DC. In four other states it is legal but not yet ready for use.

The growth of legal gambling and the ability for Americans to place bets via their phones has led to a flood of users and big gamblers alike DraftKingsFanDuel, Caesars And BetMGM. The space has proven crowded for companies, including since ESPN’s entry, but the leagues have no shortage of business partners.

In 2021, the NFL joined DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars in signing five-year deals worth an estimated $1 billion, becoming the league’s official sports betting partners.

Then came sports betting in stadiums. The Washington commanders have a physical sports betting provider in their stadium. The Arizona Cardinalswho hosted the Super Bowl last year have one right outside their venue, as do the New York Giants and Jets outside their shared stadium MetLife Stadium.

NFL owners voted to allow sports betting this year working on match days in states where sports betting is legal, starting next season.

Recently the league made a deal with aristocrat to allow NFL-branded slot machines on casino floors across the country. And another example of the synergies: The latest promotion from FanDuel is offering fans $100 off the NFL’s Sunday Ticket just for a small bet.

Having changed its approach to gambling, the NFL appears to have found that betting on the game appeals to longtime fans in new ways, increasing the loyalty of casual viewers and opening up new revenue streams.

Gambling presents new challenges

As the league adapts to the new normal of gaming, it has also experienced growing pains. Players’ confusion over the league’s betting rules has led to several suspensions.

In the past two years, at least 10 players have been suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policies.

Where the money goes

According to BetMGM, the Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to win the Super Bowl this year, and bettors are backing them to cover the points lead in the opening game of Week 1.

Sportsbooks said most bets on teams that win the Super Bowl also include the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

According to BetMGM, a bettor has placed a $100 bet on the Cardinals to beat the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl, in a matchup of two teams expected to be among the worst in the league this year. If the bettor is right, this gamble would win $1 million.

At FanDuel, the Eagles receive the most bets to win the Super Bowl at 14%, followed by the Chiefs at 10%.

Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts is receiving nearly a quarter of the MVP bets. Record number of Americans betting on the NFL this season

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