Illegal bets still rule Super Bowl — even as more states offer regulated action
Posted by Monitor.bet
Posted on Mon, Jan 28, 2019
Even though there are seven more states to allow legal betting on the Super Bowl than a year ago, an overwhelming amount of bets for Sunday’s game — about 95 percent — will continue to be made with bookies, offshore sportsbooks or acquaintances.
The percentage of legal bets (5.3 percent) was calculated by USA TODAY Sports from a survey released Monday by the American Gaming Association ($6 billion in total bets for Super Bowl LIII) and an estimate of the total legal wagers on the NFL title game supplied by sports gambling network VSiN ($320 million).
The AGA estimated ahead of last year’s Super Bowl that 3 percent of bets placed on the game were legal, although the casino industry lobbying group did not provide a projection this year.
“I am not sure when the tipping point will be,” Bill Miller, AGA’s president and CEO, told USA TODAY Sports. “As the general public becomes more aware of the opportunity to do it in a regulated and safe manner, it will move that way.”
Added VSiN founder and chairman Brian Musburger: “It’s a ways off. A lot has to happen and the pricing has to be right. Some of the offshore operators are still offering attractive pricing that will keep customers engaged. If the states over-tax (bettors), it will be hard to kill the offshore business.”
An estimated 22.7 million adults plan to bet on the Super Bowl according to the AGA. The survey conducted by Morning Consult on Jan. 22 included 2,201 adults, who were interviewed online. The survey had a margin of error of 2 percent.
Respondents preferred bets on the Los Angeles Rams (52 percent) to the New England Patriots (48 percent).
VSiN’s legal betting estimation for Super Bowl LIII is actually double the money bet legally a year ago when Nevada was the only state with state-sanctioned sports betting. The projection is not just fueled by Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia accepting bets.
Experts expect Super Bowl bets within Nevada to exceed last year’s record take of $158.58 million.
“I don’t think (other states) will ever take business from Nevada,” said Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill U.S., which operates more than 100 sports books in Nevada along with locations in Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. “Las Vegas is unique. It’s not all about betting. There’s an entire entertainment experience that brings people to town.”
Those seven states that are currently taking sports bets moved forward after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) in May. The federal law essentially limited sports betting to one state (Nevada) for 25 years.
Led by the NBA, attitudes toward sports betting began to change even before the nation’s highest court’s decision. Many major pro sports leagues and teams had already had partnerships with daily fantasy giants DraftKings and FanDuel, but once PASPA was overturned, the ruling was seen as a newfound opportunity for more revenue.
Lobbyists for leagues went to states seeking a so-called integrity fee, which would have resulted in 1 percent of any bet going back to the respective league wagered upon. No state so far has agreed to such a fee.
While the NFL recently made Caesars Entertainment its official gaming sponsor, that doesn’t mean the league — which had fought against legalized sports betting outside of Nevada for decades — is fully on board with the current legalized sports betting environment.
The NFL has sought to ban prop bets, something that has grown in both quantity and popularity over the last couple decades when it comes to the Super Bowl. William Hill, for example, has more than 900 different ways to bet on the Super Bowl, including whether the Rams and Patriots would each net a field goal of 35 or more yards and whether Rams running back Todd Gurley would gain at least 3.5 yards in his first carry.
NFL executive vice president Jocelyn Moore told a Congressional committee in September that such bets “are significantly more susceptible to match-fixing.”
“I can’t speak for their motivations,” Asher said. “We’ve been doing these types of bets in Nevada for decades. It’s our money that we are putting up to take these bets. We know how to protect ourselves. The idea of the NFL telling us what bets we can and can’t offer is crazy.”
No U.S. sportsbook will offer the obscure bets of some offshore sports books, such as how long the national anthem will go. The states, so far, are taking Nevada’s lead, where the state gaming commission only approves bets that are determined on the field of play.
The number of states that will take such bets is expected to swell ahead of the next Super Bowl.
"We have already seen three other jurisdictions (Arkansas, Oregon and Washington D.C.) authorize it ... and another 14 that have introduced bills or begun the process to move forward legislation in their states," Miller said, "My anticipation is that we will see well into the mid-teens, if not 20 states with sports betting, in 2020.”