Super Bowl showdown to provide betting bonanza

By Frank Pingue

Feb 11 (Reuters) – The Super Bowl has long been the single biggest sports betting event of the year in the United States and Sunday’s showdown in Glendale, Arizona could reach new heights as wagering on the NFL’s championship game has exploded in popularity.

It will be the first Super Bowl held in a state that offers legal sports betting and there is even a physical sportsbook on the same grounds as the stadium that will host the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs.

Mix in the fact that there are three additional states that offer legal sports betting compared with a year ago, for a total of 33 states plus Washington, D.C., and it is no wonder a betting bonanza is on the horizon.

Sports betting was allowed to be legalized at state level in 2018 when the U.S.Supreme Court struck down a 1992 federal law that barred it in most places.

The NFL, like many other leagues, had long been against sports betting due partly to concerns about the integrity of the game but changed its tune and turned it into a viable revenue stream through agreements with sportsbook operators.

“The fact that the Super Bowl is being played in a state where you can legally bet on sports was almost unthinkable five years ago,” American Gaming Association (AGA) President and CEO Bill Miller told Reuters.

“There is important symbolism and economics around the fact that a Super Bowl is being held in a state where sports betting is legal, no question about that.”


According to analysts at PlayUSA, legal sportsbooks across the United States could take in a record $1.1 billion in Super Bowl wagers, led by Nevada ($176 million), New York ($161 million) and New Jersey ($115 million).

A survey by the AGA, a trade group for the industry, showed a record 50.4 million American adults, or about 20% of the population, are expected to bet $16 billion on the Super Bowl.

The AGA said the number of expected Super Bowl bettors would represent a 61% increase from last year while the wagers, which include bets made with legal sportsbooks, illegal bookmakers or casually with friends, would be double last year’s estimates.

According to Ryan Wade, staff psychiatrist at Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut and a specialist in addiction, the ease with which bettors can now easily use their mobile devices to place bets on gambling apps is a cause for concern.

“If you can place a restriction on yourself and not have access to it, it’s a lot more difficult to engage in,” said Wade.”But now, if you can just pull it up on your phone without even leaving the couch it’s putting people more at risk.”

Due to its popularity there are no shortage of betting options around the Super Bowl, including countless proposition bets that have nothing to do with the actual game, like wagering on the coin toss and which brand will air the first commercial.

Wade said the Super Bowl proposition bets, which outnumber those for any other sporting event, not only appeal to NFL fans but even to casual observers who may otherwise not even have bothered to place a bet.

“They entice all these people that may have difficulties controlling their gambling behaviour,” said Wade.”They don’t even have to know football.

“It isn’t necessarily something new as far as the Super Bowl but I think we are paying more attention to it now because more people have access to bet.” (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)