It’s a football Friday as we are on the eve of the biggest live sporting event in the United States, the Super Bowl. A season that started in training camp back in June will culminate in one final match-up between the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers and AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs (or are they the Chefs? Great googly moogly!).
In a game that is projected to attract more than 200 million viewers, on linear and streaming, globally the biggest storyline may not take place on the field. As we addressed in our 2023 Year in Review post, the romance between Taylor Swift and Kansas City star Travis Kelce has dominated headlines the entire season and will continue to do so long after the final whistle. However, arguably the biggest storyline is in fact the location of the game.
In a move that has seemed inevitable since sports gambling’s widespread legalization which started in 2018 and hit the fever pitch in 2020 when the NFL franchise Raiders made the move from Oakland to Las Vegas official, the Super Bowl will be held in the town known as Sin City. The controversial move by the NFL to host their biggest game in a town synonymous with gambling and poor decision making in general, think “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” is a curious one that has been years in the making.
The NFL as recently as a mere few years ago were ardently against gambling in any form. As with most major sports leagues, here in the US - international leagues have embraced sports betting for years, the NFL feared sports betting. It threatened the very existence and integrity of the game. If, like the Black Sox, Pete Rose, or NBA Referee Tim Donaghy, sports betting was allowed, the temptation to influence the outcomes of games for the promise of major payoffs would be too great and ultimate players, coaches, and league officials would become corrupt. To this day the NFL has strict policies against gambling. Non-player employees of the league or individual teams are barred from wagering on sports in any form. While NFL players themselves are barred from betting on the NFL but may place wagers on other sports as long as the wager does not take place, at or on team property, the team hotel, or at an in person sports book site.
This convergence of league policy, government regulations, commercial interests, and advancement in betting technology has become the biggest talking point of the game. As the league puts its product on display under the glitz and glamor of Vegas, sports betting is also garnering National attention as we weigh the continuing impact of the legalization of sports gambling on the game and the population as a whole.
As we continue to shape cultural understanding we analyzed all things Super Bowl with a lens towards sports gambling:
Are those tuning into the Super Bowl more likely to be gamblers? And if so, what betting apps are they using? Are fans of the Chiefs or the 49ers more likely to have an interest in sports betting?
As the Super Bowl is one of the biggest gambling events of the year, it’s not a surprise that those who watched the Super Bowl last year are 1.25x more likely to be Gamblers than the average American consumer. The Super Bowl being in Vegas may be a big boon for these people as they are also 1.35x more likely to be interested in Casinos.
Of course, gambling in person isn’t the only thing that drives Super Bowl viewers, they’re also extremely interested in gambling on their phones. The NFL has direct mobile sportsbook partners, including deals with MGM, Caesars, FanDuel, DraftKings and more, which represent over $2 billion in yearly revenue.
The Super Bowl viewer is 1.66x more likely to engage with Betting apps than the average American consumer, meaning they’ll have one eye on the big screen and one eye on their mobile screen during the game on Sunday.
So, outside of Taylor Swift (1.23x more likely to engage with her than the US population by the way), do Kansas City Chiefs fans have other interests, including gambling? The answer is unquestionably an emphatic yes as they are 1.54x more likely to be Gamblers than the average US consumer. On top of that, they are also 1.40x more likely to be Gamblers than football fans in America. It certainly sounds like those Chiefs fans who live in Missouri are making the trip across the border to Kansas to gamble on the games using their favorite betting apps.
California might not have legalized sports betting yet, but the San Francisco 49ers are one of the most popular teams across the country, so it should come as no surprise that their fan base is even more likely to be gamblers than the Chiefs fanbase. The 49ers fan base presence in America is shown by only 42.62% of their fanbase being located in California.
Even though sports betting is not currently legal in California, sportsbooks should not shy away from trying to use the Niners, as potential influencers, or their fan base. It’s perhaps lucky that the Super Bowl is taking place in Vegas when 49er fans are 1.95x more likely to live in Nevada than any other states, second only to their home state of California. Unsurprisingly this audience of Niners fans living in Nevada are 10.27x more likely to engage with Casinos. So even though they may not be able to attend the game itself, they may find themselves in their favorite casino to watch it.
Whether you’re one of the two hundred million people planning on watching to see if Travis proposes to Taylor on Sunday or are watching for the actual football itself, then you’ll be sure to see a few sports gambling commercials. Even though some sports fans may be grumbling about how ubiquitous gambling content has become during the games, people who watch football are undoubtedly more likely to gamble than the average American. And that means those pricey Super Bowl commercial slots are well worth the money for sports books. Sports gambling is here to stay and we’ll be seeing content for it during the Super Bowl long after Taylor Swift is attending them.