More than 33 million Americans expected to bet on 2020 NFL season

Fewer Americans are expected to place bets on NFL games this year.

According to research published by the American Gaming Association (AGA) yesterday, an estimated 33.2m American adults plan to place bets on National Football League (NFL) games during the 2020-21 season.

This number represents 13% of all US adults and is down by 15% (nearly 40m people) on the number of adults who planned to bet on NFL games in 2019.

The AGA’s research

The AGA commissioned Morning Consult to conduct an online survey between 24 and 27 August 2020 with a national sample of 2,200 American adults.

Of the 33.2m people estimated to bet on NFL events, 20% (6.6m) plan to place bets at legal land-based sportsbooks, up 18% on last year’s survey. The research found that 34% of adults (11.3m) will place bets via legal and illegal online sportsbooks, up 29% year-on-year. On top of this, 18% (6m) will wager with a bookie, either in person or via a mobile platform, up from 12% last year.

The AGA also noted that 26% of adults (8.8m) will bet casually through pools, fantasy contests, and squares, while 50% (16.6m) will bet casually with friends, family, or coworkers.

AGA President and CEO Bill Miller, said: “The legal sports betting market continues to grow to the detriment of dangerous, illegal offshore operators. The NFL and its teams must continue to prioritize and act on the shared responsibility to educate customers on regulated markets and responsible gaming principles in order to realize the full benefit of legal sports betting.”

Less enthusiasm for NFL season

The AGA report also noted that sports fans report less enthusiasm about the upcoming NFL season than they have in previous years, with 42% of respondents saying their enthusiasm has waned due to several factors.

The AGA report said: “Engagement from sports bettors will prove even more important to the NFL as fans report generally lower enthusiasm for the NFL season. 4 in 10 (42%) American adults say they are less excited about this season than last year, citing the increased political activism around the league (36%), absence of fans in stadiums (19%), and inability to gather with friends to watch games (17%) as the main factors contributing to their lessened interest.”

The survey also highlighted that NFL fans who plan to bet on events are 54% more likely to be enthusiastic about the season compared with 18% of the general US population and 41% of football fans.

Miller said: “The NFL traditionally drives a significant amount of action from sports bettors, and this year appears to be no different. While we’ve known for a long time that bettors are more engaged fans—particularly when it comes to football—continuing to drive them to the legal market is essential for protecting consumers and the integrity of the games they wager on.

The AGA noted that in terms of bets placed to date, 13% of all bettors are wagering on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl again, followed by 9% who bet on the Dallas Cowboys to win.

NFL season kicks off this week

The NFL season is set to kick off tonight with the Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, hosting the Houston Texans.

A full line up of games is set for Sunday, however, due to the coronavirus pandemic, most teams will not have fans present in their stadiums during games. 

Some teams, such as the Dallas Cowboys, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, Kansas City Chiefs, and Miami Dolphins will allow a limited number of fans to attend games.

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