Since the ban on sports betting was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court in May of 2018, seven states have legalized above-board sports betting; Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. This year’s Super Bowl, Super Bowl 53 marks the first year that betting on the outcome of the game will be legal and is expected to be the biggest betting event of the year.
According to leading sports betting analyst Dustin Gouker, roughly one million people are expected to bet around $325 million nationally on the game between the New England Patriots and the Los Angeles Rams. This number is double the $159 million that was spent on betting in Nevada alone last year.
One of the leading states so far is New Jersey. There has been a reported $1 million wagered on just Super Bowl 53. The sportsbook of New Jersey had handled around one and a quarter billion in bets during their first six months of operation after the ban was lifted.
One of the huge draws for sports betting on this year’s Super Bowl is the accessibility; Johnny Avello of DraftKings, an online fantasy football experience, commented that sportsbooks are focused on customer experience. Bookkeepers are aware that the Super Bowl will draw in a large number of casual viewers and betters, and have created hundreds of low-risk “proposition bets” to attract them. These wagers are focused on non-game aspects, such as what color shirt Adam Levine will wear during the halftime show. By creating low-risk situations for those who are inexperienced with sports betting, the bookkeeper is hoping to make them comfortable with the service and incentivize these users to continue.
This type of tailored user experience isn’t new to just legalized sports betting. Online platforms such as DraftKings and FanDuel, which allow users to pick fantasy teams to win money, have tailored their experience to maintain user loyalty for years. They have been in hot water due to legal issues for years, as many argued that their service was classified as gambling, which before 2018 was considered illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court. They are also closely linked with many professional sports associations, such as the NBA and MLB, with many NFL players having advertisement deals with these fantasy draft platforms.
This year, DraftKings is running a $3 million Championship Millionaire, while FanDuel is running a $2.5 million Big Game Bowl. The prize payout will be $1 million to the first-place winner and the contests are expected to have over 300,000 entrants.
This year, the national wagers for Super Bowl 53 are expected to be worth about $6 billion, with an estimated 22.7 million adults participating.
Sarah Slane, the senior vice president of the American Gaming Association told NBC News that, “Super Bowl betting is part of the experience now.”
She also expects that as many as 20 states will seek to legalize sports betting by 2020, based on the amount of revenue expected this year. As sports betting gains popularity, it is almost inevitable that it will become more accessible and will likely attract increasingly high bids. Although sports betting often occurs under the table, many states are unwilling to legalize it simply because of the scale of work it will take to fully register working casinos. Many states laws must be overturned to get a ball rolling towards fully operational and legal sports betting within their borders.
While states are still working out the kinks in legalizing sports betting, one man in Nevada, who wagered $1 million against the New England Patriots last year, jumped into the craze surrounding Super Bowl 53 and wagered $1.5 million that the L.A. Rams will beat the New England Patriots.