Are You Ready For Some Football? Peak Of U.S. Betting Season Kicks Off

September 8, 2022
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The National Football League opens its 103rd season on Thursday night and the American Gaming Association predicts a record number of 46.6m adults in the U.S. will bet on NFL games.

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The National Football League (NFL) opens its 103rd season on Thursday night (September 8) and the American Gaming Association (AGA) predicts a record number of 46.6m adults in the U.S. will bet on NFL games.

According to the AGA, 23m, or almost half of the bettors, will wager online before the NFL season ends.

Meanwhile, college football, another bountiful source of sports-betting revenue, is already under way.

“The NFL represents approximately 23 percent of our handle,” said Jay Kornegay, executive vice president of SuperBook Sports Operations at the Westgate Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

“Of that 23 percent, 6.5 percent of that is ‘in-game wagering,’” Kornegay said.

Since originating in Asia in the early 2000s, in-play betting or wagering while competition in a game is ongoing has become the most popular form of betting in Europe.

Americans are more accustomed to betting on games before they start, but in-play wagering seems to be making incremental gains.

“I think in-play continues to grow, but it may not reach European levels due to the popularity of point-spread betting in the U.S. whereas you have so much money-line betting in Europe,” said Joe Asher, president of sports betting at IGT.

Steve Brubaker, a sports-betting analyst and lobbyist based in Illinois, said he grows frustrated by the delays he encounters after he makes an in-play bet.

He singled out tennis as particularly difficult for in-play wagering because the points are played so rapidly.

“There’s a technological delay with in-play bets that nobody has really figured out yet,” Brubaker said.

The delays appear to be caused by computer protocols followed by sports betting companies as they receive in-play wagers and decide which bets to accept.

In-play betting on NFL games this year could become more challenging because weekly games on Thursday night will be streamed exclusively by Amazon Prime except for the season opener between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams.

“Streaming services increase that delay to almost 45 seconds. Well, you can’t bet on the next play with a 45-second delay because the play will already be over,” Brubaker said.

Nevertheless, Brubaker said he is convinced in-play betting has a bright future in the United States.

Ryan Rodenberg, a Florida State University professor and a sports betting scholar, said the NFL and other leagues consider in-play wagering to be a tool for increasing fan engagement as well as more revenue.

“There will probably always be some unsophisticated bettors who are blissfully unaware of the latency issues that make such wagers likely losers,” Rodenberg said.

After originally opposing the legalization of sports betting, U.S. professional sports leagues are now seeking to make money off it, he said.

“The most likely immediate pitfall could be a consumer backlash over the frequency of sports gambling advertisements in-stadium and during broadcasts.”

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