New NFL Season Set to Attract Over 33.2m American Bettors

  • Sports bettors are more likely to be excited about the new season than non-betting fans
  • 36% cited increased political activism surrounding the NFL as a reason for standoffishness
  • 11.3 million people are expected to wager legally or illegally online this NFL season
  • Super Bowl LIV winners Kansas City Chiefs are the bettors’ favorite for Super Bowl LV
NFL locker room
As the 101st season of the NFL gets underway, a new survey published by the American Gaming Association has revealed 33.2m US adults plan to bet on the upcoming season. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Season kickoff is tomorrow

Ahead of the NFL kicking off on Thursday night, a new survey by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has estimated 33.2 million adults plan to bet on the 2020-21 NFL season. A national sample of 2,200 American adults was surveyed online from August 24-27 by Morning Consult on behalf of the AGA.

54% of sports bettors are excited for the 101st NFL season

The survey found that 54% of sports bettors are excited for the 101st NFL season, as opposed to just 41% of avid and general NFL fans.

About four out of ten (42%) Americans said the upcoming season excited them less than the previous season. A total of 36% cited increased political activism surrounding the league for their waning passion, 19% referenced lack of fans in stadiums, and 17% an inability get together with friends to watch games.

11.3 million people, or 34%, are expected to wager legally and illegally online this season.

In a 2018 study, the AGA said the NFL’s annual revenue could increase by as much as $2.3b from legal, regulated sports betting, which is largely driven by increased fan engagement.  

Football a good bet

In addition to the increase in online NFL wagering, 6.6 million people – 20% – are expected to place wagers at legal brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, up from 18% last year.

In the official press release, AGA president and CEO Bill Miller said that “bettors are more engaged fans – particularly when it comes to football.”

“The legal sports betting market continues to grow to the detriment of dangerous, illegal offshore operators,” added Miller. In an AGA survey released earlier this year, it was found that legal sports betting had increased by 12%, with a 25% decline in spend with illegal operators.

Miller also said that NFL and its the teams must continuing making it a priority to educate bettors on regulated markets and the principles of responsible gaming “in order for them to realize the full benefit of legal sports betting.”

The survey also found Super Bowl LIV winners Kansas City Chiefs are the bettors’ favorite for Super Bowl LV, with 13% believing they will raise the Lombardi Trophy again. The Dallas Cowboys were the runners-up at 9%.

United States of football betting

A staggering figure to emerge from the latest AGA survey is that, compared to the start of last season, 29 million more Americans have access to legal sports betting in their home states.

This 54% increase reflects just how fast the sports betting tsunami has spread across America.

18 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized sports betting in some capacity

Since 2018, when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by the Supreme Court, 18 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized sports betting in some capacity. While sports wagering is legal in Washington, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia, the four states have have yet to launch operations. Seven states are considering legislation.