The National Football League’s 2021 season has finally arrived, and this past weekend was an incredible source of excitement and entertainment for sports fans across the country, particularly in the 26 states (plus Washington D.C.) that have licensed sportsbooks now operating.
GeoComply, a geolocation security company that supports almost 100% of the United States online sports betting market reported 58.2 million online transactions from Thursday through Sunday in 18 states. That’s a 126% increase over the same four-day period of the start of the 2020 NFL season and represents significant growth in the domestic sports betting market.
Specific State Results
New Jersey, which recently became the state with the largest sports betting handle in the country, had the highest volume of sportsbook transactions in Week 1 of the NFL. New Jersey was followed by Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Illinois. Arizona recently launched its legal sports betting market just hours before kickoff between the Buccaneers and Cowboys in the first game of the NFL season. More than 271,000 newly created sportsbooks in Arizona over the past week combined for over 6.1 million transactions over the four-day span of the start of the NFL season.
Some questions have persisted over whether or not the vast expansion of sports betting platforms both online and in retail locations would impact Las Vegas, which traditionally held a monopoly over sports wagering. However, early results have been great for Las Vegas, as well. John Murray, the executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN that the sports betting handle over the past weekend is up 20% from the same weekend last year.
American Gaming Association Predictions
The American Gaming Association previously predicted that a record 45.2 million Americans will bet on the upcoming NFL season, up 36% from last year. Additionally, the AGA’s survey showed that 25% of NFL fans are more excited for the upcoming season than previous ones; that number is up from 18% last year. Online sports betting is expected to grow 73% from last year to 19.5 million participants, while people placing bets at physical casinos will increase by 58% from last year to 10.5 million. As more states continue to launch both online and retail sports betting offerings, these projections may even end up being on the conservative side of things.
Commercial Value of NFL Sports Betting
The advent of sports betting will be significant for the NFL and its commercial properties, as well. The NFL reached agreements with Caesars, DraftKings, and FanDuel earlier this year to become its official sports betting partners – these agreements span five years and are worth a combined $1 billion. FOX Bet, MGM, PointsBet, and WynnBet were later added to the list of official NFL sports betting platforms.
Sports betting will be a significant source of revenue for the NFL’s broadcast partners. CBS saw its ad sales reach $609 million during the 2020 NFL season, up 15.2% year-over-year. That number should continue to rise this season. Sports betting operators are expected to spend up to $1 billion in advertising this year, with up to six sportsbook ads permitted during NFL games.
Sportsbooks reported a winning Sunday with underdogs 11-4 ATS and eight outright upsets. The NFL continues on Monday night with the Baltimore Ravens 4-point road favorites over the Las Vegas Raiders.