Sports betting reaches the NFL with major implications for league revenue
By Ethan Goldstein
September 21, 2021
Photo Credit: Associated Press
With the NFL season now upon us, fans are more invested than ever, packing into the reopened stadiums and cheering on their favorite teams.
The biggest change seen through the first month of the NFL season, however, is not attendance — it’s sports betting.
Prior to the season, the American Gaming Association predicted that a record 45.2 million Americans would bet on NFL games this season, and early returns have validated that we are witnessing a record season for sports betting.
According to data compiled by GeoComply, the opening weekend of the 2021 NFL season saw a 126% increase in wagers compared to the first week of the 2020 season, with 58.2 million bets being placed in total. With the rise of sports betting as an emerging feature of the NFL season, the fan experience has been completely revolutionized. Fans are not only invested in the league to watch their favorite teams play, but many are now showing support with their bank accounts.
The increased sports betting market is tremendous for the value of sports books and platforms such as FanDuel and DraftKings, but it’s also beneficial for the NFL, which is taking advantage of the market growth as well. According to the Washington Post, partnerships with sports betting and gambling operators are expected to generate $270 million in revenue for the NFL this upcoming season.
After league revenue decreased from $16 billion to $12 billion last year – largely due to fan attendance restrictions – this year is a perfect opportunity to utilize the sports betting market to help recoup those losses.
Currently, 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized sports betting, and as more states begin to follow suit, the market will continue to rise. Technavio, a leader in technological research, reports that the global sports betting market is expected to grow by $144.44 billion between 2020-2025. Additionally, a record 6.3 billion minutes of viewership were consumed on the opening Sunday of the season, and with the influx of sports betting, we can expect this interest in the NFL to continue to rise.
Sports betting is establishing itself as a core piece of the fan experience in the NFL, and the league will have plenty of opportunities to utilize this gambling to open more revenue streams and expand their appeal to more fans across the country, and even worldwide.