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Record number of Americans betting on the NFL this season

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) heads the ball during the AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs on January 23, 2022 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.

William Purnell | Sportswire icon | Getty Images

As legalized sports betting grows in the United States, a record 73.5 million Americans plan to bet on the NFL this season, according to the American Gaming Association’s latest survey of Americans’ betting plans. released Wednesday.

Last year, around 46 million people bet on the NFL in the United States, according to the AGA.

The association said its survey found that 19% of American adults plan to place a bet online, in a casino or at a bookmaker this year, up 56% from last year. Of all American adults, 35.1 million, or 14%, plan to bet online, while 13.6 million, or 5%, plan to bet at a physical sports betting site.

Self-identified NFL fans are expected to place more bets than ever this season, with 37% expected to place a bet. This is a 42% increase over last year.

Sportsbooks are expecting a windfall as the NFL’s first game of the season kicks off on Thursday.

“We expect this to be the riskiest NFL season in BetMGM’s history,” Seamus Magee, commercial team manager at BetMGM, told CNBC in an email.

The NFL is interested in the game

The NFL was once a strong opponent of sports gambling. But the league changed its mind when the Supreme Court cleared the way in 2018 for states to legalize sports betting.

Sports betting is now legal in 34 states and in Washington, DC Four other states are legal but not yet operational.

The growth of legal gambling and the ability for Americans to place bets on their phones has drawn a flood of users to major players like DraftKingsFanDuel, Caesars And BetMGM. The space has proven to be crowded for business, including with the entry of ESPN, but the leagues have no shortage of business partners.

In 2021, the NFL signed five-year deals worth an estimated $1 billion, combined with DraftKings, FanDuel and Caesars to become the league’s official sports betting partners.

Then came sports betting in stadiums. The Washington Commanders have a physical sportsbook in their stadium. The Arizona Cardinals, who hosted the Super Bowl last year, have one just outside their venue, as do the New York Giants and Jets outside their joint MetLife Stadium.

NFL owners voted this year to allow sports betting to operate on game days in states where sports betting is legal, starting next season.

Recently, the league reached an agreement with Aristocrat to allow NFL-branded slot machines in casinos across the country. And in another example of synergies, FanDuel’s latest promotion is giving fans $100 off the NFL’s “Sunday Ticket” just for placing a small bet.

After changing its stance on gambling, the NFL appears to have found that gambling betting engages longtime fans in new ways, increases casual viewer loyalty, and establishes new revenue streams.

The game poses new challenges

As the league adjusts to the new normal of play, it has also had some growing pains. Player confusion over the league’s betting rules has led to several suspensions.

Over the past two years, at least 10 players have been suspended for violating NFL play policy.

where does the money go

The Kansas City Chiefs are the favorites to win the Super Bowl this year, and bettors are backing them to cover the point spread in Game 1 of Week 1, according to BetMGM.

The bookmaker says the teams betting the most to win the Super Bowl also include the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions.

BetMGM said a bettor bet $100 on the Cardinals to beat the Houston Texans in the Super Bowl in a matchup between two teams expected to finish among the league’s worst this year. If the bettor is right, this bet would win him $1 million.

At FanDuel, the Eagles receive the most bets to win the Super Bowl with 14%, followed by the Chiefs with 10%.

Philadelphia quarterback Jalen Hurts receives almost a quarter of the bets for MVP.