Sports Betting Soars As NFL Season Kicks Off

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Sports Betting Soars As NFL Season Kicks Off
© USA Today

When the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams kick of the NFL season tonight, they’re also ushering in the busiest time of the year for sports betting. On a weekly basis, NFL games are the most heavily wagered sporting events in the county. College football helps boost the betting totals that begin to soar at the end of summer.

This is good news for bookmakers operating mobile apps and on-site casino sportsbooks. Casey Lewless, sportsbook manager for the Boomtown and Margaritaville riverboat casinos in northwest Louisiana, said NFL games are “our December shopping season.”

The Penn Entertainment sportsbooks he operates were gearing up Thursday for the Bills-Rams clash at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Kickoff is at 8:20 p.m. ET. The game marks the start of a busy betting period, culminating with this season’s Super Bowl, scheduled for Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

“Football probably comprises 70-some percent of our yearly handle,” Lewless told, “and I expect a big first weekend.”

NFL Betting Big for States

Across the country, gaming officials also anticipate an increase in wagering as NFL betting gets underway.

In Kansas, after Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill in May legalizing sports betting, officials wanted wagering to begin in time for the Sept. 8 season opener between the Bills and Rams. 

On Sept. 1, state officials gave the green light for mobile and on-site casino sportsbooks to begin accepting legal bets in Kansas.

States that already are up and running also have been eager for football to get going. 

Ronnie Johns, Louisiana's Gaming Control Board chairman, told he expects sports betting to take off with the start of football season, following the slower summer months when bettors have little to choose from except baseball games.

“I am very confident our numbers this coming fall are going to be substantial,” Johns  said, adding Louisiana is a “football state.”

Sports Betting More Accessible Nationwide

Louisiana, New York, Arkansas and Kansas have joined the multiple states that have launched sports betting since the start of this year. Ontario also went live in April.

Nationwide, sports betting is legal and live in 31 states and Washington, D.C. It is legal but not yet operational in five more states.

Of the 22 states that are home to NFL teams, 18 have legal sports betting.

Sports Betting Totals Show NFL Increase

The American Gaming Association recently released a report highlighting the interest in sports betting nationally.

According to the AGA:

  • 46.6 million American adults intend to bet on the current NFL season, up 3% year-over-year.
  • Six million Americans will place a bet in person at a sportsbook this season, up 2% from 2021.
  • Twenty-three million people in the U.S. will place a legal bet online this season, up 18% from 2021.
  • Americans have legally wagered more than $50.4 billion on sports in the first seven months of 2022, generating more than $809 million in federal, state and local taxes.

Super Bowl Favorites

For the first time ever, the Super Bowl will be played this season in a state (Arizona) with legal sports betting.

The most popular picks to win Super Bowl LVII are the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9%), according to the AGA. These picks are followed by the Rams and Kansas City Chiefs (8%) and the Dallas Cowboys (7%).

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