NFL Scores Record Sports Betting Weekend, And Illegal Attempts

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NFL Scores Record Sports Betting Weekend, And Illegal Attempts
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The NFL’s opening week saw huge wagering numbers in states where sports betting in legal, but also a major effort by people trying to bet where it’s outlawed.

630,000 Tried to Bet Illegally Nationwide

During the Sept. 8 Thursday night NFL season opener, 18.8 million geolocation betting “checks” were recorded in states where sports wagering is legal, according to GeoComply, a Canada-based fraud prevention and cybersecurity firm. 

That game pitted the visiting Buffalo Bills against the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams. Buffalo won, 31-10.

Also on Sept. 8, about 630,000 NFL betting efforts, or “checks,” were recorded from states where sports wagering is illegal.

In Missouri, GeoComply has blocked roughly 104,000 attempts from people in the state trying to access the Kansas market since it launched there on Sept. 1.

The high demand has pushed more states to legalize sports betting across the US. Perfect examples are Maryland, Ohio and Massachusetts. MD is set to go live in November 2022, whereas Ohio betting apps will become available on January 1, 2023. Massachusetts is set to launch online sports betting in March or April of 2023.

Sports Betting's Top 10 States

After Thursday’s game, the opening weekend’s full NFL schedule also resulted in large betting totals.

Geolocation volumes were up from 60.1 million during 2021’s opening NFL weekend to a record 103.1 million this year, according to GeoComply.

Anna Sainsbury, GeoComply’s CEO, called this 71.5% increase “an unbelievable start to the NFL season.”

“The growth of legal betting suggests that Americans are ditching offshore sportsbooks for regulated options in their home states,” she said.

Below are GeoComply’s Top 10 states by betting volume during the 2022 NFL first games from Thursday through Sunday:

  • New York: 15.3%
  • Pennsylvania: 14.8%
  • New Jersey:  13.1%
  • Michigan: 9.4%
  • Illinois: 7.8%
  • Arizona: 7%
  • Virginia: 5.9%
  • Indiana: 4.6%
  • Tennessee: 4.5%
  • Kansas: 3.5%
  • Others: 14.1%

Sainsbury noted that New York remains sports betting’s “King of the Hill,” but added other states showed interesting results.

For instance, Illinois rose from 5 million wagering efforts during the first NFL weekend in 2021 to 8 million this season.

This 60% increase occurred because Illinois lawmakers allowed mobile registration instead of in-person registration at casinos and race tracks, as previously required, she said.


Demand For Sports Betting Soars

Looking ahead, these GeoComply numbers could indicate that public demand for legal sports betting remains high in states where it is now banned.

Sports betting is legal and live in 31 states and Washington, D.C., including the latest, Kansas. It is legal in five other states but not yet operational.

Sports wagering is illegal in the three most-populated states, California, Texas and Florida. 

In the Nov. 8 election, however, California voters will decide between two competing sports betting ballot questions. If that goes through, sports betting in California may go live in 2023. 

One ballot question would legalize the statewide use of mobile apps for sports betting. The other would allow in-person sports wagering at 66 tribal casinos and four horse tracks, but not on mobile apps.

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