Super Bowl Brings Super Betting

The Super Bowl is not only the biggest sports event of the year, but the biggest sports betting event of the year. According to the American Gaming Association (AGA), a record 26 million Americans are expected to wager on this year's big game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers. That's a 15 percent increase over last year, and represents a total of approximately $6.8 billion in total bets on the NFL's championship game.

Legal sports wagering in America was a phenomenon all but relegated to Nevada until just a couple of years ago. Then, in May 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the 1992 federal law that prohibited all states except Nevada from legalizing sports betting. Since then, there has been a steady expansion of states legalizing all or some forms of sports wagering---although Texas is not among them. "A year ago, we were discussing the 11 legal and authorized markets (for sports betting), and today there are 20 states plus the District of Columbia with legalized sports betting," says Bill Miller, president and CEO of the AGA. "By this time next year, I think we'll be talking about legal sports betting in as many as 30 jurisdictions."

Miller told a media conference call this week the increased numbers reflect the reality that sports betting is more popular than ever, and states and sports leagues should get on board to ensure it is legal and regulated. "I've worked in Washington D.C. for a long time, and I'm hard pressed to come up with another example where something has moved this quickly through statehouses all over this country," he says.

The NFL in particular is benefiting, with television ratings up five percent for the second consecutive season. Miller points to AGA research showing 75 percent of NFL bettors are more likely to watch a game they have bet on. "When Americans have skin in the game, it's clear they are more likely to tune in," he says. "It means the NFL is starting to realize the $2.3 billion opportunity that comes from sports betting annually."

By the way, as of five days before the big game, the Chiefs are a 1-point favorite over the 49ers.

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