Betting on Super Bowl up $20 million in only state with legal sports betting

Super Bowl Wagering In Nevada Hits Record High For Eagles Win

Super Bowl betting Eagles win

Super Bowl XLII was a record-setter for Nevada sportsbooks. Betting on this year’s game was up about $20 million from last year.

Nevada sports betting on the Super Bowl

The game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots on Sunday night was the most wagered-upon game in the history of Nevada sports betting. The Eagles won — and covered the spread — in a game that also easily surpassed the over-under on points.

According to preliminary figures from the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the 198 books in the state took $158,586,934 in wagers. The sportsbooks held 0.7 percent of those wagers, $1,170,432. That’s the direct revenue the books generated from wagering.

Super Bowl wagering historically

Just five years ago, handle for the Super Bowl routinely was under $100 million in the state. Here is a look at handle and win over the past five years:

  • 2017: $138,480,136 handle; $10,937,826 win
  • 2016: $132,545,587; $13,314,539
  • 2015: $115,986,086, $3,261,066
  • 2014: $119,400,822, $19,673,960
  • 2013: $98,936,798, $ 7,206,460

Handle has nearly doubled since 2009, when it was around $81 million.

The number is a fraction of the amount estimated to be wagered via offshore sportsbooks operating illegally in the US. The American Gaming Association’s best guess is that about $4.6 billion is wagered by Americans outside of Nevada sportsbooks.

The prospect for legal sports betting outside of Nevada hinge on the verdict in the US Supreme Court case centering on the federal ban on single-game wagering in the other 49 states.

How would the ‘integrity fee’ work here?

States around the country are lining up to legalize sports betting if the aforementioned New Jersey sports betting case goes the way of NJ. A full strikedown of the federal ban — PASPA — would mean other states could enact their own sports betting laws.

This prospect has led some leagues — the NBA and Major League Baseball — to propose a sports betting integrity fee at the state level. That fee would pay one percent of handle to the leagues on which wagering would occur.

If we were to apply the integrity fee to Super Bowl wagering, that would mean roughly $1.6 milion goes to the NFL. That transfer of money would have made the sportsbooks a net loser on the Super Bowl, as one percent of handle would eclipse the revenue they generated ($1.2 million).

That’s why we’ve seen the leagues and commercial casinos prepare for battle over this issue. While casinos typically hold around five percent of sports betting wagers, over the short term an integrity fee could entirely gobble up any revenue a sportsbook might produce. And even if the books are doing well, it would eat up a sizable chunk of their revenue.

Only one state has actually included an “integrity fee” in its language — Indiana — so far. Such a fee is unlikely ever to be implemented in Nevada, unless it comes from a new federal law.

Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.