A Ridiculous Number of Americans Plan to Bet On the NFL This Season

At least that's what the American Gaming Association wants us to think

A display of prop bets for the Super Bowl.
The NFL is the most popular game in town for sports bettors.
Ethan Miller/Getty

“The NFL is not changing our position as it relates to legalized sports gambling,” National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell told pro football scribe Peter King in 2017. “We still don’t think it is a positive thing.”

The thinking at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan has obviously changed dramatically as the NFL is now intertwined with sports gambling in a major way five years after the Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), making it possible for individual states to approve legal wagering. So far, 34 states plus Washington, D.C. have done so, with four more states set to take the plunge soon.

Like the NFL, Americans as a whole have embraced the new normal and a new survey conducted by the American Gaming Association found that 73.5 million American adults will wager on the upcoming pro football season, with 49.7 million planning to place a traditional bet online, at a casino or with a bookie. That’s a huge jump from the record 46.6 million Americans who planned to bet on the NFL last season and the 45.2 million who were going to bet on the league the year before that.

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If 73.5 million Americans put their money where their mouth is, that will mean approximately 28% of the adults in the United States will place a bet on the NFL this season. The NFL has to be hoping that none of its players fall into that group as the league has already had to suspend 10 players for gambling violations this year. In spite of that, there’s no way to put the toothpaste back in the tube and the NFL is only going to become more involved with legal sports gambling as time goes on, much like America itself.

Football fans will have their first chance to bet on an actual NFL game tonight when the league’s 104th season kicks off tonight in Kansas City with the Chiefs hosting the Lions. The defending Super Bowl champs are favored by 4.5 points despite the possibility of being without two key players — Travis Kelce (the league’s best tight end) and Chris Jones (the league’s best defensive tackle).

The expectation is that both Kelce and Jones should be back soon (if they miss time at all) and the Chiefs are favored to win the Super Bowl for the second year in a row (+600). Kansas City is followed by the Eagles (+800), Bills (+900), 49ers (+1000), Bengals (+1100) Cowboys (+1500), Ravens (+1800), Jets (+1800), Lions (+2200) and Chargers and Dolphins (both +2500).

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