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As legal sports betting rolls out across the US, the biggest sector of the market is betting on the NFL.
Pro football is the most-watched sport in America, and that translates to it being the most bet-on sport, as well.
Read on for more information about betting on the NFL in 2020 and the market for it in the US.
There are more than a dozen states where you can legally bet on NFL football games currently. Here is the list of states where sports betting is legal, or where it has been legalized pending launch (click through to learn more about betting options in any of these states:
|State||Is sports betting legal?||Is online sports betting legal?|
|Delaware||Yes||Yes, launch undetermined|
|Mississippi||Yes||Yes, on-property only|
|Montana||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
|New Mexico||Yes, at multiple tribal casinos||No|
|North Carolina||Yes, pending launch||No|
|Tennessee||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
|Washington DC||Yes, pending launch||Yes, pending launch|
Online betting is currently live in these states, which should be the largest markets for sports wagering in short order:
The second biggest market for betting on the NFL is New Jersey, and it will likely surpass Nevada in the near future — if not this year, then 2020 or 2021.
That’s for several reasons:
There are no shortage of apps in the state:
Pennsylvania is the biggest state that has legal sports betting apps. Population centers and football-crazy cities Philadelphia and Pittsburgh create a good starting based for legal sports gambling.
There are only a handful of apps in the state as of September 2019, but more are on the way.
There are also a trio of physical sportsbooks. While betting on West Virginia University is huge, expect a lot of betting on the NFL teams in surrounding states as well.
Sports betting has been around for decades in Nevada, and it’s the biggest market for NFL betting right now. Hundreds of millions are wagered on NFL games in Las Vegas and beyond.
While there are more than 100 physical sportsbooks, nearly all of them also have a sports betting app. While the tech in Nevada lags behind other markets, and you have to sign up in person for an app, they are still a good option.
Mobile betting accounts for more than half of all betting — NFL and otherwise — in Nevada.
Iowa went live with sports betting in the summer of 2019, rolling out physical sportsbooks and online sports betting apps almost in parallel.
There are already more than a dozen sportsbooks in the state, along with apps that you have to register for at a casino and racetrack.
If you’re not in one of the states mentioned above, you are not betting at a site that operates legally in the US or in your state.
While many people believe that sports betting became widely legal in 2018, all that happened was the repeal of a federal ban allowing states to legalize sports betting.
So if you want to bet on the NFL, keep in mind where you’re betting. While individual bettors are unlikely to get in trouble for betting at a site that operates outside of the constraints of US law, the sites themselves do run afoul of federal and state law. Despite the fact that these sportsbooks will tell you they are operating legally, that is far from the truth.
If you’re in Nevada, New Jersey and other states that have betting laws, you have a number of regulated choices to choose from. Unfortunately for much of the country, there is no legal option. That includes large states like California and Florida. In New York, you can bet at some upstate sportsbooks but only in-person.
Despite the fact that the NFL has the fewest games of any pro team sport, it’s by far the most popular to bet on.
With a handful of preseason games, 16 in the regular season and then a win-to-advance playoff system, there’s a premium on every game. That dynamic makes the NFL the most popular sport to watch on TV; the Super Bowl every year is the most-watched program on TV in the US.
All of that interest creates a robust market for betting on the NFL in the US, despite the fact that single-game wagering has only been legal in Nevada before 2018. People still find myriad ways of having a monetary interest on the outcome of games, from fantasy sports, to betting against friends, to using illegal offshore sportsbooks.
If you include fantasy and social betting, the number is certainly in the hundreds of millions. If limited to offshore books, the number has been estimated from the tens of billions to $150 billion.
The advent of legal sports betting outside of Nevada will increase all of these figures even more. The NFL, as the country’s most popular sport, will drive betting handle in most states.
The interest in betting on the NFL usually follows a rhythm, starting out strong before hitting a crescendo in the postseason:
NFL fans love to watch games at sportsbooks. Nevada has long cashed in on the intersection of betting and lots of TVs, packing sportsbooks in Las Vegas and elsewhere with fans on NFL Sundays.
It is usually a good experience, except it can be difficult to get your bet down in-person on a busy Sunday. The lines to place bets in states with legal sports betting are usually extremely long; in states where online betting is legal, it’s far more convenient.
Here’s a bit of a breakdown:
If you are betting on the NFL, there are a variety of ways to do so. Here is a quick look at some of the ways:
Note that all of these types of winning bets will include vigorish or a commission that the sportsbook charges on winning bets. More on sports betting terms can be found here. And that’s not an exhaustive list of bet types either.