Approximately 13 percent of American adults plan to bet on National Football League (NFL) games this year despite less 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; and
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 percent) to be excited about the upcoming season than the general population (18 percent), self-described avid and general NFL fans (41 percent) or casual NFL fans (12 percent). 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 Bill Miller, president and chief executive officer of the AGA.  

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

Morning Consult, on behalf of the AGA, conducted an online survey among a national sample of 2,200 American adults.