AGA: 45.2m Americans expected to wager on 2021 NFL season

Research by the American Gaming Association is projecting a record 45.2m Americans are likely to place a bet on the 2021 NFL season, a 36% increase YoY.
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Research by the American Gaming Association (AGA) is projecting a record 45.2m Americans (18%) are likely to place a bet on the 2021 National Football League (NFL) season, a 36% increase year-on-year (YoY).

The rise in betting can be correlated with the expansion of legal sports betting options across the US, as well as the ‘increased enthusiasm’ for the upcoming season, said the association.

At the start of the 2020 season, fans in 18 states and Washington, DC had access to operational, legal sports betting. As the 2021 season kicks off, Americans can place legal sports wagers in 26 states and Washington, DC, with five additional states likely to be added by the end of the season, including the anticipated launch of Arizona, South Dakota, and Washington markets by NFL kick-off on September 9.

AGA President and CEO, Bill Miller, commented: “Sports betting is more popular than ever among Americans, and the enthusiasm of bettors for the upcoming NFL season highlights the remarkable growth of the industry over the past three years.

“Importantly, when the 2021 NFL season begins, more than 111m American adults will be able to wager safely with regulated sportsbooks in their home states rather than with the predatory illegal market.”

NFL betting is forecasted to rise across all wagering methods, but betting with online sportsbooks is expected to see the largest increase over 2020 while illegal bookies are expected to see the slowest growth.

AGA research predicts that 7m American adults will bet on the 2021 NFL season casually with friends (up 31% from 2020), 5m will place a bet online (up 73% YoY), 6m will participate in a paid fantasy contest or other type of pool competition (up 69% on the previous year), 5m will place a bet at a physical casino sportsbook (up 58% from 2020), and 7m will place a bet with a bookie (up 13% YoY).

The association’s research also shows sports betting’s significant value to the league, with 37% of NFL fans planning to wager on this year’s NFL season, including nearly half (47%) of self-described avid NFL fans. Moreover, 44% of all Americans and 63% of NFL fans believe that in-venue sportsbooks will add entertainment value to attending sporting events in person.

AGA noted that increased fan enthusiasm will also drive NFL betting this year, as 25% of Americans are more excited about the upcoming season than previous seasons, up from 18% last year.

Fans from the Northeast (21%) are most interested in NFL betting this year, followed by the West (18%), Midwest (17%), and South (15%).

Miller added: “Fans are the heartbeat of professional sports, and leagues like the NFL are realizing the full potential of sports betting to drive fan engagement. To capitalize on this tremendous opportunity, the NFL and its 32 teams must also realize their responsibility to educate fans and promote responsible gaming.”

Among expected bettors, the Kansas City Chiefs are the most popular pick to win the Super Bowl (15%), followed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11%) and the Dallas Cowboys (7%).