Record 45.2M Americans Expected to Bet on NFL This Season

Posted on: September 8, 2021, 12:05h. 

Last updated on: September 8, 2021, 06:05h.

A record 45.2 million Americans are projected to wager at least one bet on an NFL outcome during the 2021-22 football season. That’s according to results from a new survey conducted on behalf of the American Gaming Association (AGA), the gaming industry’s preeminent lobbying group in DC.

NFL sports betting American Gaming
Tampa Bay Bucs QB Tom Brady celebrates the team’s Super Bowl win on February 7, 2021. More than 45 million Americans are likely to bet on an NFL game this season. (Image: Getty)

The AGA contracted online survey research firm Morning Consult for its latest review of sports betting. A national sample of 2,200 US adults completed an online survey expressing their likely sports betting plans for this year’s NFL schedule.

Eighteen percent of US adults — 45.2 million people — are projected to place one or more bets on a professional football game. That’s up 36 percent from last year.

The AGA links the surge in betting plans to the continued expansion of legal sports betting across the nation. There’s also an overall heightened enthusiasm for this year’s NFL season compared with the mostly fan-less 2020 games.

When the NFL season kicks off on Thursday night, 111 million US adults will reside in a state where they have legal access to a sportsbook. That number assumes that legal sports betting operations go live as planned in Arizona, South Dakota, and Washington prior to the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers 8:20 pm ET kickoff in Florida.

Online Continues Growth

In states where online sports betting has been legalized, it has become clearly evident that mobile wagering is the preferred method of placing a bet.

The AGA expects 19.5 million Americans to facilitate a sports bet through the internet — up 73 percent from a year ago. That includes both regulated, legal mobile sportsbooks, as well as unregulated, illegal offshore platforms.

The 2020 NFL season was unlike any other, as stadiums were largely vacant. The inability to attend live games, paired with a variety of health and economic concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in reduced enthusiasm for pro football.

A year later, that has changed, the AGA claims. The study concluded that 25 percent of Americans are more excited for the upcoming season, compared with previous seasons. Prior to the kickoff of the 2020 NFL season, only 18 percent of Americans were projected to be more excited for the schedule than they were in 2019.

“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,” said AGA President Bill Miller.

Bookie Business Still Growing

Prior to the US Supreme Court’s 2018 decision that repealed the federal sports betting ban and effectively gave states the power to determine whether to authorize sports betting, offshore sites were thriving. Ridding such illegal bookies has been a key factor in driving lawmakers in more than two dozen states to legalize sports betting.

The AGA 2021-22 NFL betting review found that illegal bookies are expected to see the slowest year-over-year growth (13 percent). An estimated 6.7 million US adults will likely make a wager with an unlicensed operator.

However, it’s nonetheless growth for the offshore enterprises.

An anonymous bookie recently told Sports Illustrated that many customers stay with him because they “like working with people they can build a relationship — not to mention a more flexible payment plan.”