PlayUSA, which tracks the regulated sports betting market in the US, is projecting that bettors will place more than $20bn in single-game wagers on NFL and college football games into legal US sportsbooks during the 2021 season, resulting in as much as $1.5bn in revenue for those operators. That figure excludes parlay bets.
Again excluding parlay bets, PlayUSA predicts that at least $12bn in bets will be made on the NFL this season, producing at least $800m in revenue. College football will attract $8bn in wagering, it said, producing $550m in revenue.
Variables, such as when many new markets launch later this year, make a precise prediction difficult, it advised. However, football-related handle in 2021 could triple the estimated $7.5bn in bets that were placed on the sport during the 2020 season.
Dustin Gouker, lead analyst for PlayUSA.com Network, said: “Propelled by the launch earlier this year of legal sports betting in relatively large states like Michigan and Virginia, in addition to states such as Arizona that are expected to launch near the beginning of the NFL season, the US market has grown significantly since the beginning of the 2020 football season.
“The US sports betting market looks entirely different than it did just one year ago. There is no question that it will be a historic football season unlike any we’ve seen before.”
Michigan and Virginia have both successfully launched full-scale sports betting since the end of 2020 to become the fifth and seventh-largest markets in the US, respectively. PlayUSA notes that the states that launch next during the football season could benefit the most.
College football is likely to play a more robust schedule after being affected by the pandemic in 2020, and operators are expected to invest millions in promotions around football.
New operators, such as the Barstool-branded app, have also made strides, having expanded its footprint significantly since the 2020 football season. High-profile newcomers, such as SI Sportsbook based on the Sports Illustrated brand which recently launched in Colorado and is expected to expand its reach through the year, have also entered the market.
Eric Ramsey, data analyst for the PlayUSA.com Network, commented: “The expansion of sports betting over the last year has been relentless, with far more legal markets and more operators than ever before. That has made the industry ultra-competitive, with football being a litmus test of sorts for the coming year.
“Operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel are gearing up for massive football-related media campaigns to drive customers to their sites, harkening back to the days of the advertising onslaught both operators made surrounding daily fantasy sports in 2015.”