With more states launching legalized sports betting operations, a record number of Americans are likely to make a wager during the upcoming NFL season.
Roughly 45.2 million Americans may place a bet on the nation's most popular sport in 2021, a 36.2% rise from last season, according to a study conducted for the American Gaming Association, or AGA. Fans in 26 states and Washington, D.C., now have access to operational legalized sports betting — including Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Wyoming, which launched sports betting Sept. 1 — ahead of the upcoming Sept. 9 season kickoff.
Sixteen of the 23 states where sports betting is legal are home to NFL teams.
AGA said five more states could proffer legalized sports betting this season by Sept. 9. The Supreme Court in May 2018 repealed a law that had limited sports betting to Nevada.
"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 and CEO Bill Miller in a statement. "Importantly, when the 2021 NFL season begins, more than 111 million American adults will be able to wager safely with regulated sportsbooks in their home states rather than with the predatory illegal market."
All told, Americans have legally wagered nearly $27 billion on sports over the first seven months of 2021, generating more than $350 million in federal, state and local taxes, according to AGA.
The study — an online survey of 2,200 adults conducted by Morning Consult from Aug. 25-30 — found that 19.5 million sports fans will opt to make wagers online, whether legally or illegally during the 2021 campaign, up 73% from the 2020 season. Some 14.6 million will participate in a paid fantasy contest or other types of pool competition, a 69% jump from last season, while 10.5 million will place a bet at a brick-and-mortar casino sportsbook.
Another 6.7 million indicated they might place a wager illegally via a bookie.
The study notes that sports betting holds significant value and appeal for the league, with 37% of NFL fans planning to wager on the upcoming season, including just under half who identify as avid NFL fans. Moreover, 44% of all Americans and just under two-thirds of NFL fans view in-venue sportsbooks as an entertainment feature that holds value to their attending sporting events in-person.
To that end, the New York Jets have signed a multiyear partnership with the Fubo Sportsbook. Expected to debut in the fourth quarter, Fubo Sportsbook's initial sponsorship of a professional team calls for the creation of the first authorized, branded mobile sports betting lounge at MetLife Stadium for Jets' home games, beginning with the 2021-22 season.
The NFL itself, which for years had endeavored to distance itself from any direct connections with points spreads and other sports betting lines, has now approved seven sportsbooks to run sports betting commercials during games.
The networks — NBCUniversal Media LLC's NBC (US), ViacomCBS Inc.'s CBS (US), Fox Corp.'s FOX (US), and The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC (US) — will be allowed to run one category message per quarter, as well as single units in pre-game and halftime coverage. The league's in-house service, NFL Network (US), will also deliver such messaging.