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How Many Americans Will Bet on the NFL This Season?

A new sports betting survey provides further proof that the NFL betting floodgates are officially open at long last.

A record 45.2 million Americans plan to wager on the upcoming 2021 National Football League (NFL) season according to a new survey conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the American Gaming Association (AGA).

That figure represents a full 36% percent increase compared to the 2020 season as the league and its franchises continue to adopt increasingly progressive policies regarding betting and fantasy.

“Sports betting is more popular than ever among Americans, and the enthusiasm of bettors for the upcoming NFL season highlights the remarkable growth of the industry over the past three years,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller in a statement.

“Importantly, when the 2021 NFL season begins, more than 111 million* American adults will be able to wager safely with regulated sportsbooks in their home states rather than with the predatory illegal market,” he said.

To no one’s surprise, the reigning AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs (15%) and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11%) lead the way as the most popular picks to win the Super Bowl according to survey data. The two conference champs are followed, however, by a team that did not make the playoffs last year: The Dallas Cowboys (7%).

“America’s Team” is worth $6.43 billion according to Sportico, the next closest team is the New England Patriots at $4.97 billion.

Key findings from the AGA survey include:

  • 7 million American adults will bet on the 2021 NFL season casually with friends, up 31% year over year from 2020.
    7 million will place a bet with a bookmaker (up 13% YoY)
  • 5 million will place a bet online, both legal and illegal (up 73% YoY)
  • 6 million will participate in pay-to-play fantasy football or a similar pool-based competition (up 69% YoY)
  • 5 million will place a bet at an in-person sportsbook, (up 58% YoY)
  • Fans from the northeast region (21%) are the most frequent NFL bettors, followed by the west (18%), midwest (17%) and south (15%).
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“Fans are the heartbeat of professional sports, and leagues like the NFL are realizing the full potential of sports betting to drive fan engagement,” added Miller. “To capitalize on this tremendous opportunity, the NFL and its 32 teams must also realize their responsibility to educate fans and promote responsible gaming.”

The study notes that as it stands, 32 of the 50 states plus Washington DC have legalized sports betting to date, though seven of those states’ platforms and services are yet to go live.

Nearly 50 million bettors will wager on NFL games this year despite only half the states in US states boasting fully operational infrastructures.

What that means is simple — the football world is only beginning growth potential as a giant of the sports betting industry. By this time next year, 45.2 million might feel like an awfully small number by comparison.