The NFL is back again this week with the first game of the new season, and AGA research has suggested that a record 45.2 million Americans will wager on the league this time around. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
A booming US industry
According to research completed on behalf of the American Gaming Association (AGA), a record 45.2 million US residents will bet on the upcoming NFL season. The total represents an increase of 36% from the 2020 season, growth the AGA has attributed to the expansion of legal betting across the country and high fan enthusiasm.
The gaming industry body has predicted that NFL betting will increase across all wagering methods, with the most substantial rise in online. Commenting on the results on Monday, AGA CEO Bill Miller said the increased popularity of sports betting indicates the sector’s “remarkable” growth over the past three years.
more than 111 million American adults will be able to wager safely
Eight more states have legalized sports wagering since the beginning of the 2020 season. As a result, the AGA expects the black market to take a hit as Americans turn towards legal options. “When the 2021 NFL season begins, more than 111 million American adults will be able to wager safely with regulated sportsbooks in their home states rather than with the predatory illegal market,” Miller commented.
Breaking down the numbers
The AGA announced the results of its study on Monday this week. Data intelligence and market research company Morning Consult completed an online survey on behalf of the AGA in August 2021. After analyzing the results of 2,200 American adults, the firm has estimated that around 18% of US residents plan to wager on the upcoming NFL season, up from 13% in 2020.
Of this 45.2 million total, the number of bettors who plan to wager casually with friends has increased 31% year-on-year to 7 million. Meanwhile, 5 million expect to place an online bet, up 73%, and 6 million will participate in a paid fantasy NFL contest or other type of pool competition, an increase of 69%. The AGA also expects retail betting to grow, with the number of Americans planning to wager at a casino sportsbook up 58% year-on-year to 5 million.
Most bettors are currently wagering on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl at 15%, while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are second at 11%, and the Dallas Cowboys third with 7% of wagers. The season will kickoff on September 9 with a game between the Bucs and the Cowboys.
The Morning Consult research has also provided some insight into areas of the US with the highest interest in betting. Around 21% of those expecting to wager on the NFL hail from the Northeast of the country. Meanwhile, the West accounts for 18%, the Midwest around 17%, and the South 15%.
Added to this, the AGA has noted benefits for the league itself. Around 25% of study participants said they are more excited about the upcoming season than any before. In total, 37% of NFL fans plan to wager this season. A further 63% of all fans think stadium sportsbooks will add entertainment value to attending sporting events.
Record-setting revenue in July
In addition to its NFL research results, the AGA also recently posted July commercial gaming revenue for the US market. The sector set a new record for monthly gaming revenue, with the combined total reaching $4.83bn. This surpassed the previous highest total in May, growing almost 30% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
The AGA took to Twitter on Friday last week to publicize the results:
Sports betting and iGaming have made the most considerable growth from pre-pandemic levels. US sportsbooks took revenue of $228.2m in July, an increase of almost 515% from the same month in 2019. Even more impressively, iGaming revenue increased 657% to $305.8m.
the fifth consecutive month of double-digit gaming revenue growth
The gaming body described 2021 as the industry’s “strongest year to date,” with July marking the fifth consecutive month of double-digit gaming revenue growth over 2019. Revenue reached $29.6m for the first seven months of the year. Staggeringly, this has already nearly matched the $29.98bn generated throughout the entire year in 2020.
In part, the AGA has attributed July growth to the return of summer leisure travel. Specifically, the body noted an increase in visitors to the gambling hubs of Las Vegas and Atlantic City following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.