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What's the average amount bet on the Super Bowl?

A far cry from the days of the neighborhood bookie, sports betting is now big business in the US, and no event more encapsulates this than the Super Bowl

Jan 31, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; A general overall aerial view of the Los Angeles Convention Center, site of the Super Bowl LVI Experience, and the downtown skyline Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby LeeUSA TODAY Sports

Gambling is big business in America, and if Las Vegas is its capital, then the Super Bowl is Christmas, Easter, and birthdays all rolled into one. Placing a bet on the big game is nothing new, although the method has changed over the years.

Not so long ago, gambling was the preserve of bookies. With only Nevada and New Jersey having legal betting, the vast majority of Americans had to resort to the local bookie. Although illegal, it was something more akin to prohibition, where everyone seemed to be of the opinion that the law was wrong-headed and simply turned a blind eye.

In the seemingly-unrestricted Wild West that the internet operates in, states have grappled for decades to try and tighten their hold over online gambling. In this, however, they have been fighting a losing battle as both public opinion shifted the landscape, leading to a landmark Supreme Court decision in 2018 which legalized sports betting at the federal level. So far, 30 states have responded by legalizing the practice.

How many will place a bet?

It is estimated that 23.2 million Americans will place a bet on the Super Bowl in 2022, representing around $6 billion. In this new, legal world of gambling, the majority of these will not be through a bookie, but through a legal, regulated, and crucially taxable, gaming organization. An impressive revenue windfall stands to find its way into the public purse for those states that have gotten on board.

These numbers represent only the official, Vegas-style bets, either through a casino or legal gaming company, be that online or bricks-and-mortar, but the majority of bets will be informal, personal bets with family and friends. These tend to be low-value bets for just a few bucks, certainly less than $100, but the telling part is just how many people will participate.

The Generational Divide

A recent survey reported that 51% of Americans will place some sort of bet on the Super Bowl this year. If accurate, this would revise upward the number of American adults who will be betting on the game to 131.7 million people, five times the official estimate.

This report identifies a serious generational gap in the betting activity as well, with 67% of millennials planning to place a bet versus only 26% of baby boomers. This could be seen as a shifting of values over gambling and perhaps bodes well for the nationwide legalization of the practice in the next few years.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has reiterated the league’s commitment to protecting the integrity of the game in several statements, but with the sponsorship deal that they have with Caesar’s Entertainment it looks as if the revenue streams available may prove too tempting.