Super Bowl LIV nationwide (legal) betting handle to exceed $300 million

By Dave Tuley  (VSiN.com senior reporter) 

January 27, 2020 11:50 AM

LAS VEGAS – The Vegas Stats & Information Network projects a record nationwide (legal) betting handle of at least $300 million for Super Bowl LIV.

Most football fans, bettors and oddsmakers got the matchup they wanted with the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers winning (and covering) as popular touchdown favorites in the respective conference championship games last Sunday. Bookmakers have been reporting brisk early betting after the point spread opening pick ‘em with the Chiefs favored by 1 to 1.5 points as of this Sunday night, plus the growing menu of propositions wagers.

Last year, there was around $195 million to $200 million legally wagered on the New England Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams in the first Super Bowl after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on sports betting on May 14, 2018, with Nevada being joined by New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, West Virginia, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. However, the amount of bets fell short of expectations as Nevada (which previously had a virtual monopoly) handled just $145.9 million, well short of the state’s record (and de facto national handle record) of $158.6 million in 2018 when the Philadelphia Eagles upset the Patriots 41-33.

John Avello of DraftKings gave VSiN the most thorough prediction.

“Pennsylvania had just started taking bets before last year’s Super Bowl and mobile wasn’t even available, so they’ll be much bigger this year,” Avello said. “If the total was $195 million or so with $145 million coming from Nevada, there was only about $50 million from the other states and we should blow that away this year.

“There’s been a bunch of states that have been added this past year, including Indiana, which has been a huge over-achiever for our company and the other operators in the state. I think you have to take Nevada’s handle and double it as the other states should add up to about the same amount, so if we’re thinking $175 million in Nevada, it could be $350 million nationwide.”

We’re not sure we’d go that high with our official projection, but $300 million looks like a safe bet with 14 states now having legalized sports betting after New Hampshire joined the game on Dec. 30. It’s hard to get completely accurate projections or results as Caroline Ponseti, director of media relations for the American Gaming Association, points out that Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Indiana and Oregon are currently the only states to break down their handle by sport.

In addition, Leland Moore from the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General said its state doesn’t do projections. Last year, New Jersey handled $34.89 million after others had projected it could be closer to $100 million. The Garden State should far exceed that figure as betting handle has continually increased over the course of this year with 88 percent of its handle in December coming on mobile devices.

There were several reasons for the lower-than-expected handle last year. For starters, some Nevada bookmakers cited “Patriots fatigue” as bettors could have been turned off by the Pats’ third straight appearance on Super Sunday and fourth in five years. There were also fewer million-dollar bets (only three reported in Nevada last year compared to five the previous year). And then, once the game started, in-game betting was relatively non-existent in the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever.

“In-game wagering has exploded in popularity in recent years, but that’s driven by teams trading scores back and forth,” said Vinny Magliulo, longtime Vegas bookmaker who is now with the South Point and Gaughan Gaming as well as appearing on VSiN’s “My Guys in the Desert” with Brent Musburger. “That killed the handle last year. Besides this great matchup between the Chiefs and 49ers and all the great props, the increase in in-game betting alone should help Nevada set a new record.”

You’ll probably be seeing more stories about Super Bowl betting predictions this week as the American Gaming Association is having a media conference call at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday to release its poll on Americans’ betting plans for Super Bowl LIV as well as projections for the sports betting landscape in 2020. Last year, the AGA estimated that $6 billion (with a “b”) was wagered on the Super Bowl, but that includes betting with illegal bookies and offshore.

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