What to Expect from NFL Betting During the Playoffs and Super Bowl LVIII

Grant Mitchell
By:
Grant Mitchell
01/03/2024
Industry
American Football Ball

Highlights

  • An estimated 50.4 million Americans wagered $16 billion on last year’s Super Bowl
  • Ohio accepted more than $1.1 billion in first-month bets during the playoffs last January
  • Most of the teams alive for the playoffs are from states with local sports betting markets

2023 was the most successful year for sports betting since it became legal in 2018. But with the Super Bowl on the immediate horizon, sportsbooks and states alike should expect their most important returns yet. 

The American Gaming Association (AGA) estimated last year that 50.4 million Americans would wager $16 billion at legal sportsbooks. With this year's Super Bowl set to be held in America’s gambling capital of Las Vegas, Nevada, those jaw-dropping numbers could soon become memories of a distant past.

But just how high will the handle climb for the NFL playoffs and Super Bowl LVIII? The answer could help determine the future of American sports betting.

The Super Bowl is King 

There is no event in America that draws more of a television audience than the Super Bowl.

“Every year, the Super Bowl serves to highlight the benefits of legal sports betting,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller before last year’s championship match.

Super Bowl LVII, which featured the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles, drew an average of 115.1 million concurrent viewers. That represented a 2.5% increase on the previous year, which produced 112.3 million average viewers. 

Americans also set a national record by wagering more than $100 billion in a calendar year during 2023. That was helped by the expansion of sports betting to new states such as Ohio, Massachusetts, and Kentucky, along with new operators such as Fanatics and ESPN Bet entering the fold.

All of the momentum leads into the usual busiest time of the year for sportsbooks. Ohio, which launched sports betting on Jan 1, 2023, accepted more than $1.1 billion in first-month bets largely because of the Cincinnati Bengals’ participation in the playoffs. 

Pennsylvania, home of the Eagles, also boasted a then-record $456.8 million in sportsbook revenue in February, a 21.6% increase year-over-year, largely because of Philly’s journey to the Super Bowl.

Many of the teams that will feature in the postseason are located in states where users can tap into online sportsbooks. Of the nine teams that have clinched playoff berths, five are from legal sports betting jurisdictions, and of the 11 that are still alive for a spot, eight are from states with a legal sports betting market.

The influence of team success 

According to Sportinglad, seven of the 10 most popular NFL teams are either in or still alive for the postseason. Of them, three are from states where sports betting is not legal, which presents an opportunity for even more future growth.

The most popular team is the Dallas Cowboys, also known as “America’s Team.” Worth an estimated $9 billion, the Cowboys are a marketing behemoth that dominates headlines.

However, Texas is one of 12 states that do not have a sports betting market, and local legislators have remained steadfast in their criticism of gambling.

Despite that, the Lone Star State could be headed for a change of direction. Several lawmakers have verbalized an interest in capitalizing on the economic boom that sports betting would provide, and the Texas Sports Betting Alliance has given lobbyists a platform to share their message.

The Kansas City Chiefs, the defending Super Bowl champs, are also in a state (Missouri) without a sports betting market. That’s despite heavy pressure from owners of all local professional sports teams and frequent debates in the Congress.

The most desirable Super Bowl for sportsbooks, taking into account legal status and local market activity, would be the Buffalo Bills (+800 at BetMGM Sportsbook) against the Philadelphia Eagles (+1100).

However, the most likely matchup, bet betting odds, is between the San Francisco 49ers (+210) and Baltimore Ravens (+350).

Grant is a sports and sports betting journalist who prides himself in his up-to-the-minute reporting on the latest events in the industry. A member of Virginia Tech’s 2021 graduating class, he has quickly put together an impressive portfolio since moving to the professional world full-time. Grant’s favorite sports to cover are basketball and both types of football (American and soccer), and he is pushing written, audio, and video content. He has been employed by companies as highly regarded as Forbes and continues on a great trajectory in the industry. When he’s not on the clock, you can find Grant at the gym, looking for adventures, or hanging out with his family.