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H2: Super Bowl LIV betting set to reach $760m


Licensed US sports betting operators are expected to take a record $760m in wagers on the 54th edition of the Super Bowl, according to betting and gaming data specialist H2 Gambling Capital and its US strategic partner Princeton Public Affairs Group (PPAG).

The match on February 2, which will see the San Francisco 49ers taken on the Kansas City Chiefs at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium, will see amounts wagered almost double from the $400m staked legally on last year’s match. 

This, H2 and PPAG note, will represent almost 13% of total stakes placed on the game, a significant improvement on Super Bowl LIII, when legal US bets accounted for just 6% of total betting activity. 

However, the pair added, this is dwarfed by offshore activity, with an estimated $5.4bn to be wagered via illegal operators. 

With legal betting available across 16 states, which together account for just over 21% of the US population, it has become an increasingly prominent point of discussion around the game. While the Chiefs are viewed as slight favorites, with a 1.5 point spread, this is one of the smallest spreads in Super Bowl history, promising a particularly tight contest.

H2 noted that there are clear signs that sports betting is helping boost National Football League (NFL) engagement and viewing figures. NFL TV viewership grew by more than 5% during the 2019 regular season, to 16.7m people per game, with digital viewership up more than 50%, according to CNBC. 

According to a survey commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA), also released today (January 28), as many as 26m Americans will bet on the game. Of this number, around 4m will bet at a bricks and mortar sportsbook, with a further 5m betting online. 

The rest are expected to bet with an illegal bookie, in a pool or squares contest, or casually with family and friends.

The figures come at a time when the market is experiencing significant rapid growth, H2 and PPAG added. In 2019, they estimate that the total legal US sportsbook handle is expected to rise to $13.6bn, a 94% year-on-year increase. After winnings are paid, this would suggest gross win of $993m, of which football is thought to account for a third. 

Looking ahead to the current year, the pair believe sports betting gross win could rise as high as $2.2bn, and to $7bn within five years. Should the industry’s best case scenario come to pass, where all states legalize all forms of betting and the take rate remains low, revenue could be as much as four times as high.

“These figures represent a significant staging post in the roll-out of the US legal market,” H2 director David Henwood commented. “Almost double the amount of legal wagers shows how regulated sportsbetting has helped generate new eyeballs and interest in the NFL. 

“We believe this trend will continue in the coming years as further states regulate their respective industries and other major US sports also see a significant upswing in fan engagement.”

PPAG principal Bill Pascrell III described H2’s analysis of the market as “the most granular out there”. 

“As further states regulate, they should take note that online already accounts for 60% of all wagers,” he explained. 

“For 2020, PPAG is going to extend its partnership with H2 to offer deep sector advisory on a bespoke basis for all operators, vendors and investors in the space. There’s lots of opportunity out there and now is the time to capitalize on the market.”