A record number of people in the United States are expected to place bets on the upcoming Super Bowl game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, highlighting the expansion of legal sports betting across the US.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated on Tuesday that more than 50 million people — about 20 percent of the US population — would place bets on Sunday’s game, for a total of about $16bn.
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The figure represents legal wagers, as well as casual bets between friends and those illegally placed with a bookie.
“Every year, the Super Bowl serves to highlight the benefits of legal sports betting: Bettors are transitioning to the protections of the regulated market, leagues and sports media are seeing increased engagement, and legal operators are driving needed tax revenue to states across the country,” said Bill Miller, the association’s president and CEO.
The AGA estimated that the number of people in the US that plan on betting on the game has skyrocketed 61 percent compared with last year, and the total figure of $16bn is also more than twice the previous year’s total.
That uptick is partly attributable to the growing expansion of legalised sports betting in the US, where more than half of all adults now live in an area where the practice is legal, including 33 states and the capital of Washington, DC.
According to the AGA, people in the US placed nearly $58bn in sports bets in 2021, more than double the amount recorded a year earlier.
The National Football League (NFL) championship game between the Eagles and Chiefs will take place in the city of Glendale in the western state of Arizona. This is the first time the Super Bowl is being held in a US state where sports betting is legal.
The AGA survey found bettors evenly split in advance of the game, with 44 percent backing Kansas City and an identical percentage betting on Philadelphia. The remaining 12 percent were undecided.
The Eagles were 1.5-point favourites as of Monday night on FanDuel, the official odds provider to The Associated Press news agency.
Led by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is dealing with an ankle injury, the Chiefs are coming into the championship matchup after defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 on a late-game field goal on January 29.
The Eagles more easily secured their Super Bowl spot, cruising to a 31-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC Championship game.
In an interesting twist, Sunday’s game will also mark the first time two brothers play each other in the Super Bowl, as Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Eagles centre Jason Kelce hope to help their teams to victory.
“It’s a special moment,” said Travis, who helped Kansas City to the championship three years ago. “It’s something that, obviously, we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.”
In last year’s Super Bowl, an exciting touchdown in the last 90 seconds gave the Los Angeles Rams a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.