When states across the country began to authorize legal sports betting this year at a rapid pace, one question came up repeatedly: Will new legal markets be ready in time for football season?
As the National Football League’s 100th season kicked off, we had our answer. At that time, 13 states offered legal, regulated sports betting—more than double the number of legal, operational markets at the start of last season. This momentum comes as 38 million American adults plan to bet on an NFL game this season, according to a survey from the American Gaming Association and Morning Consult.
Consumers want legal sports betting options—no surprise, as it offers protections from the dangerous illegal market. As a result, 1.2 million more Americans are expected to place a bet on the NFL this season compared to last year. For legal operators, this represents 1.2 million extra opportunities to show consumers what responsible gaming looks like: unlike illegal operators, we comply with rigorous regulations, work to prevent underage gaming, are committed to the integrity of games and provide education and assistance to promote responsible consumer choices.
Leagues are also benefitting from the shift towards legal wagering. Our survey found there are heightened levels of fan engagement with NFL games when bets are placed. Seventy-five percent of bettors say they are more likely to watch a game they have bet on, and many are more likely to buy tickets to a game.
There’s even a correlation between where the highest percentage of expected bettors live—Massachusetts—and the team most adults we surveyed choose to win Super Bowl LIV—the New England Patriots.
This cycle and loop effect between enthusiasm for betting and sports has helped to spur more than 45 new partnerships between leagues, teams and gaming companies since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), the failed federal ban on sports betting, was overturned in May 2018.
With five more states and the District of Columbia poised to open legal markets in the coming months, nearly one in three adult Americans could potentially place legal bets in their home states in time for Super Bowl LIV.
The casino gaming industry, our regulatory partners and the NFL are off to a strong start, but we can’t sit content on the sidelines and run out the clock. Let’s keep the progress going.