Legal sports betting booms in US ahead of Super Bowl

(NewsNation) — Super Bowl Sunday is quickly approaching and a lot is on the line for sports bettors, as gamblers in a number of states are going to be able to bet legally on the big game for the first time.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) predicts that a record 50 million Americans will place a wager on this year’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs — an increase of 61% from last year.

An estimated 1 in 5 American adults will make some sort of bet, laying out a whopping $16 billion, or twice as much as last year, according to an industry trade group.

Johnny Avello, the director of sportsbook operations at DraftKings, told NewsNation that he expects this year’s numbers to be higher than previous years, especially since the big game is being played in Arizona, which has legalized sports betting.

“That’s a plus to add to the total, and both teams are in jurisdictions where gambling is legal. That has never happened before. So looking for a big one here,” Avello said.

Plus, Super Bowl bets go beyond football.

People place wagers on everything, like how many hot dogs are sold, Rihanna’s hair color during the halftime show and, of course, the color of the Gatorade shower for the winning coach.

“Basically anything that there’s a yes or no, a definitive black or white answer you can bet on,” sports analyst Albert Nguyen said.

The sports betting industry in the country is booming, with it legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C, Forbes reported — although most of the action is still off the books.

The vast majority of people, in other words, are still betting with friends and family, participating in office pools or taking their chances with a bookie.

Last year, states and the federal government generated more than a billion dollars from sports betting alone, but some argue the tax revenue should be more — one of the reasons why: industry-friendly tax rates for operators.

As for the Super Bowl specifically — regardless of the outcome — it’s a win-win for the AGA.

“The biggest thing to know about sports betting is even though you win or lose money, at the end of the day, the house always wins,” Nguyen said.

But legal sports betting still represents just a small piece of the pie.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming Research, an independent analytics firm in California, estimates that just over $1 billion of this year’s Super Bowl bets will be made legally. The leading states are: Nevada ($155 million); New York ($111 million); Pennsylvania ($91 million); Ohio ($85 million) and New Jersey ($84 million.)

The research firm estimates 10% to 15% of that total would be wagered live after the game begins.

Another 15% to 20% would come in the form of same-game parlays, or a combination of bets involving the same game, such as betting on the winner, the total points scored and how many passing yards Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts will accumulate.

As legal sports betting grows, so too has concern about its effect on people with gambling problems.

On Tuesday, New Jersey gambling regulators unveiled new requirements for sports books to analyze the data they collect about their customers to look for evidence of problem gambling, and to take various steps to intervene with these customers when warranted.

As of Tuesday, the Eagles were 1.5-point favorites over the Chiefs on FanDuel, the official odds provider to The Associated Press. Bettors are evenly split on who will win the game, according to the gaming industry association.

The Associated Press’s Wayne Parry contributed to this report.


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