Super Bowl expected to smash records for legal and illegal betting


Nearly 68 million American adults — about one in four — plan to bet on this year’s Super Bowl, setting a record by a wide margin, according to the gambling industry’s national trade association.

Figures released Tuesday by the American Gaming Association include bets placed with legal outlets, as well as with illegal bookies and online operations in other countries.

The volume of betting participation is projected to be 35 per cent higher than last year, which was the previous record.

Bettors plan to wager an estimated US$23.1 billion on this year’s Super Bowl, up from $16 billion last year, the group predicted.

Of that, about $1.5 billion is projected to be bet with legal outlets, the group said, citing consensus estimates from various sources. That is in the same ballpark as the $1.25 billion in legal bets projected by Irvine, California-based research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

Sports betting is legal in 38 states plus Washington, D.C.

“There’s a good chance that every Super Bowl for the next ten or so years will be the most bet Super Bowl thanks to the underlying growth of regulated sports betting in the U.S.,” said gambling analyst Chris Grove, a partner at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

Sunday’s game will feature the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs against the San Francisco 49ers in a rare rematch from four years ago.

The 49ers are favored by 2.5 points, meaning they would have to win the game by 3 or more points for bets on them to be winners. Conversely, if the Chiefs win, or if they lose by no more than 2 points, bets on Kansas City would win. Those odds are from FanDuel Sportsbook, the official odds provider for The Associated Press.

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The romance between Chiefs star tight end Travis Kelce and pop superstar Taylor Swift might be helping drive interest in this Super Bowl. About 73 per cent of adults say they plan to watch the game this year, about 10 per cent higher than in recent previous years.

“I think the `Taylor Swift effect’ will be more obviously felt in terms of the total number of people watching and betting on the game than it will be in the total dollars bet on the game,” Grove said. “But there’s little doubt that sportsbooks will be seeing Swifties sign up that otherwise would not have given sports betting a second thought.”

Likewise, Cait DeBaun, a vice president with the American Gaming Association, said Swift could be one of several reasons for increased betting on this year’s Super Bowl, along with “the compelling matchup,” the game being held in Las Vegas, the nation’s betting capital, and the growing availability of legal sports betting in the U.S.

The largest group in the survey — 42.7 million adults — plans to place a wager online (legally or illegally), at a retail sportsbook or with an illegal bookie, an increase of 41 per cent from last year.

About 36.5 million adults plan to bet casually with friends, or as part of a pool or squares contest, up 32 per cent from last year.

Bettors are nearly split on the outcome of the game, with 47 per cent planning to bet on the Kansas City Chiefs and 44 per cent planning to bet on the San Francisco 49ers, according to the association’s survey conducted Jan. 30 through Feb. 1 of a national sample of 2,204 adults. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

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Eilers & Krejcik forecasts that nearly 13, New Jersey (9.6), Illinois (7.3) and Arizona (5.6 per cent). Other states are projected to account for 3.6 per cent or less individually.

About 10 per cent to 15 per cent of legal bets will be made live after the game already has begun, the company predicted.

Brian Becker, senior vice president of Tipico Sportsbook, is among many gambling industry executives who predict a record-breaking betting level on this year’s Super Bowl.

“The game-watching experience has become more immersive than ever before,” he said. “As we approach Super Bowl Sunday, we also expect the festivities in Las Vegas to have a ripple effect across the country and entice more fans to place bets than in years past with the microscope of media and advertising on Vegas culture.”

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