The American Gaming Association (AGA) has called for more to be done to tackle illegal online gambling websites, after a study forecast an increase in consumers using offshore sites to place online bets on the 2020-21 National Football League (NFL) season.
Some 33.2m of American adults are set to place some form of wager on the NFL during the upcoming season, which begins later today (September 10) with the Kansas City Chiefs playing the Houston Texans.
Should this be the case, this would represent a 12.6% decline on the 38m adults that were expected to place bets in the 2019-20 campaign, which ended with the Chiefs beating the San Francisco 49ers 31-20 to clinch Super Bowl LIV.
However, this year’s study, which Morning Consult carried out on behalf of the AGA, only surveyed 2,200 American adults, compared to 11,001 last year.
Of those set to place bets, the AGA said 34%, or 11.3m, would do so through legal or illegal online gambling platforms, up from 29% last year.
With this in mind, AGA president and chief executive Bill Miller said that while the legal sports betting market in the US continues to expand, it is critical the NFL and its teams continue to educate bettors about the dangers of betting with illegal 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 said.
In terms of other types of betting, the AGA said approximately 6.6m adults (20%) will bet at legal, retail sportsbooks across the US, an increase from 18% last year.
However, the number of adults betting casually through pools, fantasy contests and squares is expected to total 8.6m, or 26% of all bettors, falling from 31% in 2019-20.
Casual betting is also set to decline, with the AGA forecasting that half of those placing wagers, or 16.6m, will do so with friends, family of co-workers. This would be down from 53% in the previous season.
The AGA’s research also suggested that adults who plan to wager on the season are more enthusiastic than NFL fans, with 54% of bettors excited about the new campaign, ahead of 18% of the general population and 41% of NFL fans.
“The NFL traditionally drives a significant amount of action from sports bettors, and this year appears to be no different,” Miller said. “While we’ve known for a long time 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 said this engagement from bettors will be significantly more important in the 2020-21 season, which look set to feel the impact of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) on its traditional schedule.
Around 42% of American adults are less excited about the new season, 36% of which said was due to political activism around the league, 19% because of the absence of fans and 17% as they cannot watch games with friends, the latter of which are both due to Covid-19.
In terms of which teams bettors will be backing, 13% plan to wager on the Chiefs winning the Super Bowl for the second consecutive year. Some 9% of bettors are backing the Dallas Cowboys, with 5% each for the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots and the 49ers.