Approximately 13 percent of American adults plan to bet on National Football League (NFL) games this year despite lower enthusiasm from fans in general about the 2020-21 season, according to a new survey from the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Of the estimated 33.2 million adults who plan to bet on this NFL season:
- 20 percent (6.6 million) will wager at physical, legal sportsbooks, up from 18 percent last year.
- 34 percent (11.3 million) will place a bet through legal and illegal online platforms, up from 29 percent.
- 18 percent (6 million) will wager with a bookie, either in person or via a mobile platform, up from 12 percent.
- 26 percent (8.6 million) will bet casually through pools, fantasy contests, and squares, down from 31 percent.
- 50 percent (16.6 million) will bet casually with friends, family, or coworkers, down from 53 percent.
Those who plan to wager on the upcoming season are more enthusiastic than NFL fans overall. Sports bettors are significantly more likely (54%) to be excited about the upcoming season than the general population (18%), self-described avid and general NFL fans (41%), or casual NFL fans (12%). The AGA previously found the NFL stands to gain $2.3 billion annually from legal sports betting, largely due to increased fan engagement.
“The NFL traditionally drives a significant amount of action from sports bettors, and this year appears to be no different,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “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.”
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.
Looking to the Lombardi Trophy, 13 percent of NFL bettors plan to wager on the Kansas City Chiefs to win the Super Bowl, followed by nine percent on the Dallas Cowboys, and five percent each on the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, and San Francisco 49ers.
“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,” Miller added.
About the Research
Morning Consult, on behalf of the American Gaming Association, conducted an online survey August 24-27, 2020 among a national sample of 2,200 American adults. The data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on age, educational attainment, gender, race, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of +/-2 percent.