PlayUSA Rewind: Fewer People Expected To Bet On NFL, New York Casinos Approved For Relaunch

Posted on September 15, 2020

The NFL season has returned.

Cue the fireworks and confetti. Finally, the grand-daddy of all sports has made its way back, no doubt leading to mass celebrations and sighs of relief from the public and legal sports betting operators alike.

Yet while millions across the country will watch the games, and millions more will place a wager here and there, recent research shows that betting interest will actually decrease this season.

Fewer Americans to take part in NFL betting

It is not breaking news to establish that 2020 is not any typical year. From the coronavirus pandemic to social justice protests to an election year, 2020 is anything BUT ordinary.

Many of these factors played into recent findings announced by the American Gaming Association. Based on a survey, the AGA concluded that nearly 5 million fewer Americans planned to participate in NFL betting this season.

A survey conducted by Morning Consult determined that 33.2 million people across the country expected to place an NFL wager in 2020. This total is down from 38 million last year.

Among the reasons, some 42% of respondents indicated lowered enthusiasm for the campaign. This could be attributed to increased political activism as well as the absence of social gatherings like attending games or tailgates.

Still, the NFL remains king of the sports betting world and the go-to league for bettors, as previous AGA research showed that 93% of bettors are more interested than the NFL than any other professional sports league.

While just 6.6 million folks will place wagers at retail sportsbooks (down from 6.8 million), 11.3 million will head to legal or even illegal online platforms to bet (up from 11 million). Similarly, an estimated 6 million bettors will complete a transaction via a bookie, a spike of about 1.4 million from a year ago.

Understand, too, that a previous AGA study highlighted that more than half of bettors who mostly use illegal sportsbooks believe them to be legal. As legalized wagering expands across the country, and as more education on the goings-on of offshore operators permeates, more bettors will utilize legal sportsbooks down the road.

At long last: Barstool Sportsbook on the way

After weeks of anticipation, it appears Penn National is ready to roll out its Barstool Sportsbook, starting in Pennsylvania.

Leveraging technology from Kambi, Penn’s newly acquired brand announced its plans to soft-launch in the Keystone State by Sept. 15 with a full launch expected three days later.

In January, Penn bought 36% of Barstool Sports. When news of the sportsbook’s scheduled rollout emerged, stock saw a 5% spike. Indeed, though, it is only the beginning for the Barstool sports betting brand.

Jay Snowden, president and CEO of Penn National, noted that the sportsbook app “is the centerpiece” of Penn’s “omni-channel strategy.”

Part of that strategy means likely forthcoming introductions of the platform in New Jersey and Michigan as well as out west in Colorado.

Ultimately, according to analyst Ryan Sigdahl, Penn could capture up to 20% of the US online casino and sports betting market.

And it will begin in Pennsylvania.

New York casinos get OK to reopen

Speaking of lengthy anticipations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally gave the green light for casinos in New York to reopen starting Sept. 9.

The Empire State stood as the last in the country to not allow its casinos to open their doors back up following pandemic-forced closures.

Since March 16, those properties have remained closed. Some states authorized reopenings within weeks. In fact, nearly 90% of the countries casinos have been open since the end of June.

Regardless, at long last, New York’s four commercial casinos and eight racinos have been given the go-ahead to resume business.

Similar to neighboring New Jersey, New York has capped capacity at 25%, among the lowest in the country. New York has also required hand sanitizing stations, shields, masks and temperature checks prior to entry.

Additionally, casinos must install advanced air filtration systems while only opening slots initially. In order to resume table games, casinos must modify equipment to separate players from each other and staff. Following this step, casinos may apply to get those games up and running.

While it is a belated baby step, it is a step forward nonetheless for New York casinos.

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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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