Super Bowl LIII was supposed to be a coming out party of sorts for the nascent U.S. sports betting marketplace. 

Indeed, a study by the American Gaming Association claimed $6 billion would be wagered on the Super Bowl, most of it illegally, and therefore, difficult to verify. Meanwhile, Play USA.com, a source for news, analysis, and research related to the market for regulated online gaming in the U.S., released its own set of estimates for the big game, which included the following nuggets:

  • Nevada will continue to lead the way for legal sports betting, including online sports betting, with a handle of $160 million for the single game. 
  • The Silver State’s handle will be followed by New Jersey ($100 million), Pennsylvania ($30 million), Mississippi ($17.5 million), West Virginia ($10 million), Delaware ($5 million), Rhode Island ($1 million), and New Mexico ($500,000). 
  • Nevada, which set a record last year by collecting $158.6 million in wagers for the game, will set another record this year. The state’s hold percentage and overall win for this year’s game, which was just $1.17 million in 2018, should also improve.

Well, maybe it was the nature of the game (little offensive or scoring), bettor ennui with New England Patriots coming out on top againor a misalignment of the stars, but few of these monetary betting estimates came to fruition. To start, Nevada reportedly only generated $145 million in handle for the 2019 Super Bowl, a decline of 8 percent from last year’s game. Results were not much better for the new sports betting jurisdictions, headlined by the fact New Jersey operators only saw $35 million in wagers. It was also reported that Mississippi non-tribal commercial gaming properties only garnered $4.7 million in bets.

In one word, yuck. Of course, even an event like the Super Bowl can have a bad year every now and then… but what does this stumble out of the gate tell us about the recently established sports betting marketplaces? Well, according to a post-game report by Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG), the results of Super Bowl LIII wagering were not as bad as they seemed for the emerging markets, where future prospects are still very much positive. Among the good news as reported by EKG:

  • Early feedback is that Super Bowl Sunday was a clear win for New Jersey’s online sportsbooks in terms of new customer acquisition. EKG estimated that the market gained roughly 40,000 new registering customers, with roughly half of those customers choosing to make a same-day deposit. In effective terms, the Super Bowl represented a net unique customer gain of 15-20 percent market wide.
  • In a positive long-term signal for the industry, the cross-sell between New Jersey online sportsbooks connected to online casinos was apparently in full effect during the Super Bowl, with operators noting a significant spike in casino traffic once the game concluded. A connected online casino gives online sportsbooks two ways to win: either by being on the right side of the action or by recapturing player winnings in the casino. 
  • EKG thinks next year’s Super Bowl will likely be close to two times the size of this year’s in terms of total handle for operators in New Jersey. Growth will be driven by the entrance of new operators, increased investment from existing operators as they become more comfortable committing marketing resources to their products, and greater consumer awareness.

So although this year’s Super Bowl was a bit of a wagering bust for New Jersey, all signs point to a better event next year. This, after all, is the beauty of sports—you will almost always get a chance to avenge a loss.