New AGA Study: Interest In NFL Sports Betting Has Never Been Higher

Written By Grant Lucas on September 11, 2019 - Last Updated on June 8, 2022

The popularity surrounding the NFL is no secret, particularly as it relates to legalized sports betting.

A recent study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) not only adds credence to this fact, but it also indicates how widespread regulated wagering might be during the professional football league’s 100th season.

A national survey conducted by global technology company Morning Consult revealed that 38 million adults, reflecting 15% of the American population, intend to wager on the NFL this year.

While many will continue to participate in office pools and fantasy leagues or even lay money down with offshore bookmakers, an estimated 7 million people will take their betting business to a regulated sportsbook.

That figure reflects around a 21% spike from last year, when some 5.7 million adults indicated their intent to wager on the NFL.

Last year, AGA research estimated that the NFL could earn upward of $2.3 billion annually by 2020, largely as the result of increased fan engagement. As legalized sports betting continues to expand, the AGA noted that “bettors are more likely to engage with the league, its media partners and with other fans.”

Translation: There is certainly no shortage of betting interest in America.

More legalized sports betting, more fan engagement

The national survey of 11,001 adults not only showed that the public is “gravitating toward” the legal sports betting market, but it also indicated how wagering influences the public’s connection with the NFL.

Per the study, 39% of self-described “avid” NFL fans plan to wager on NFL games this season. Additionally, 24% of Americans said they would lay down bets if the industry was legal and convenient to do so in their home states.

As for staying on top of NFL action:

  • 75% of bettors are more likely to watch games on which they wagered.
  • 63% said they were more likely to watch games with friends and family.
  • 51% said they were more likely to watch pregame coverage.
  • 28% said they were more likely to attend games on which they wagered.

Sports betting continues to expand

Early in the AGA’s press call on Wednesday, president and CEO Bill Miller noted how 13 states across the country now boast live and legalized sports betting, stretching from New Jersey to Oregon.

As a result, Miller said, 1 in 5 Americans can now place wagers in their home states with regulated markets.

Such expansion has led to increased visitations to retail sportsbooks at casinos, Miller pointed out. However, the public has expressed an 8% increase in betting online.

Miller emphasized that the AGA pushed for legalized sports betting for a variety of reasons: eliminating the black market, enhancing consumer protections and protecting the integrity of the game and bets placed on them.

Miller said all three objectives have been realized.

“Increased popularity means the industry is providing more consumers with great entertainment options than ever before,” Miller said.

He later added: “If the past is any indicator, legal sports betting is just getting started.”

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Legal sports betting continuing to grab headlines

Regulated wagering has quickly permeated the country.

Since the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA, 13 states have since gone live with sports betting and another handful have passed legislation to green-light the industry.

“Recognizing how difficult it is to move legislation … and get votes and reconciliation between House and Senate … and enacted by regulators is nothing short of remarkable,” Miller said.

“My view is, as states see their neighbors moving forward with sports betting, it’s our belief that states will realize this important opportunity that their neighbors are taking advantage of and then those legislators will follow suit.”

Led by New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the wagering industry has become a more accepted form of entertainment by the public. These two states are also one of the few that boasts online sports betting, and the only two states home to NFL franchises as well as retail and mobile wagering.

“Convenience is an important thing,” Miller said. “Our survey work showed a higher percentage of individuals would place a bet on NFL games if it were convenient for them. Convenience is important for success from a sports betting endeavor.”

Interestingly, the NFL’s season opener Thursday night — a yawn-inducing 10-3 win for the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears — seemed to support the AGA’s findings.

John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal shared that overnight ratings for that game were “up 14%-15%” from the 2018 season opener. To boot, Ourand said:

“TV ratings numbers from last night’s Packers-Bears game that will most interest league and network execs: some markets with legalized sports betting were up big. Pittsburgh (+23%) and Providence (+36%) are two markets with statewide mobile betting.”

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Grant Lucas

Grant Lucas is a longtime sports writer who has covered the high school, collegiate and professional levels. A graduate of Linfield College in McMinnville, Grant has covered games and written features and columns surrounding prep sports, Linfield and Oregon State athletics, the Portland Trail Blazers and golf throughout his career.

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