Are Super Bowl Locations Forever Linked To Legal Sports Betting?

Written By Derek Helling on January 24, 2023
locations super bowl lvii future hosts

Super Bowl LVII starts a string of NFL championship games that will happen in states with legal sportsbooks. While that might seem to suggest a preference by the NFL for such locations, reality dispels that notion quite profoundly and quickly.

There are many factors that go into the league’s decision on where to hold the Super Bowl each season and the locally relevant gambling laws are likely quite far down that list. The NFL gets its revenue from Super Bowl betting regardless of where the Lombardi Trophy gets hoisted each year.

Super Bowl LVII starts a trend

Yes, it’s true that Super Bowl LVII takes place in Glendale, Arizona, this year. It’s true that online sports betting is legal in Arizona. Additionally, there is a physical BetMGM Sportsbook adjacent to State Farm Stadium.

It’s also true that the next two Super Bowl games will also take place in states with legal sports betting. The locations are:

  • Super Bowl LVIII – Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Super Bowl LIX – Caesars Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

So far, the NFL has not yet announced locations for Super Bowl LX or beyond. If past results are a predictor of future events, though, it’s a safe bet that this streak of venues in sports betting states will end soon.

Count on another California or Florida game soon

To this point, 30 of the 56 Super Bowls (almost 54%) played have taken place in either California or Florida. Given that the next two years feature sites in Louisiana or Nevada, the law of averages suggests that another game in California or Florida should happen quickly thereafter.

In fact, NBC Sports reports that the odds-on favorite to host Super Bowl LX is Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. One of the reasons why these states are so common for hosting Super Bowls should be obvious to anyone who understands seasonality in the Earth’s northern hemisphere.

Compared to much of the rest of the United States, the weather in these states is quite amiable during February. That is a crucial component as Super Bowl festivities are much larger than the game itself.

The NFL tends to turn the area around host stadiums into an entire entertainment complex, much of it outdoor. Thus, amenable weather simplifies everything. It doesn’t look like either California or Florida will offer legal sports betting anytime soon.

The weather is one of several factors that outweigh gambling permissibility for the league, though.

How the league picks Super Bowl sites

In 2019, Miami Super Bowl Host Committee President Michael Zimmer gave Lauralys Shallow of CNN some insight into how the selection process works. Zimmer did not mention gambling laws whatsoever.

Zimmer explained that the league approaches leaders of select cities years ahead of actual games and invites them to make presentations for why the league should choose them.

“It takes a little over a year to put together a bid,” Zimmer told Shallow. “It is about a 600-page document. What we do is go to the owners meeting, we pitch to the owners, and then the 32 owners vote on the cities they want to host the games.”

Zimmer said that what a city can do to enhance the experience is a key component of those pitches. Theoretically, legal sportsbooks could be part of that. However, current events suggest that hasn’t been the case.

Arizona and Louisiana didn’t have legal sports betting until September 2021 and January 2022, respectively. The NFL owners likely made the decisions for Super Bowl LXII and Super Bowl LIX without giving sports betting much consideration.

That makes sense if you understand how the NFL makes revenue from legal sports betting.

Legal sportsbooks are just another promotional outlet

The biggest value in legal sports betting for the NFL and its member franchises is how the gambling form serves as a promotional product for its games. It’s a domino effect of sorts.

  • Wagering on NFL games drives interest in watching them
  • More eyes boost ratings and streaming numbers
  • Broadcasters can charge more for commercial slots during games
  • The NFL can ask for more money for its broadcast rights

To be thorough, however, the league and the teams therein do get some revenue directly from sportsbook operators. That takes a few forms:

  • Advertisements around/inside stadiums
  • Commercials in league/team media
  • Licensing of official trademarks
  • Licensing of official data rights

Those are likely all flat fees as opposed to percentage deals. Thus, the volume of sports betting happening on a Super Bowl doesn’t immediately affect how much revenue the NFL is pulling from its gambling partnerships. Akin to the broadcast contracts, it just gives the league more leverage when it comes time to negotiate those rights.

The bottom line is that other aspects of a city’s readiness to host a Super Bowl matter far more than its gambling laws. The NFL is getting a cut of sports betting revenues regardless. For that reason, the trend of Super Bowl cities with legal sports betting opportunities could be short-lived.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a lead writer for PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including legislation and litigation in the gaming industry. He enjoys reading hundreds of pages of a gambling bill or lawsuit for his audience. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa.

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