It seems like it has been forever since NFL games could enjoy fan attendance but, as the new season gets underway, stadiums are now packed with screaming fans. Teams aren’t disappointing the crowds, either, with some massive wins already being recorded. The New Orleans Saints took down the Green Bay Packers in a 38-3 rout that no one had anticipated and, last night, the Las Vegas Raiders and the Baltimore Ravens turned their game into an instant classic. Although the Raiders ultimately pulled off the win in overtime, 33-27, this game was an incredible battle that endured from the first kickoff to the very last play. With so much going on and the NFL running in a post-COVID-19 lockdown, the excitement of the games, the thrill of the chase and the adrenaline rush of the win have proven to already be huge draws for sports bettors.
Sports Bettors Coming Out in Droves
It was already predicted that this was going to be a massive year for NFL sports wagers, but the initial reports coming from sportsbooks show how big. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, several books in Sin City are being overrun with bettors, with “long lines of gamblers” stretching from the “books to the casino floors” well in advance of the first whistles. The media outlet quotes Jay Kornegay, the VP of Westgate SuperBook, as reporting, “At 9 a.m., the levee broke and the book was slammed and remained that way all day. There was no doubt the numbers and energy easily surpassed last year.”
This past Sunday delivered mixed emotions – some of which had likely been forgotten for way too long – to football fans everywhere. There’s also heartache and elation on game days, but this past Sunday brought both simultaneously to more than a few fans, as well as sports bettors. Adds Chuck Esposito, the sportsbook director for Red Rock Resort, “One of the louder opening days in pro football that I can remember. Great energy and atmosphere. Everyone was super excited that football is back.”
Bob Porreca of Huntington Beach, CA, was one of those who had to deal with mixed emotions during a game. The 67-year-old and his son-in-law trekked to Vegas on Sunday to watch last night’s Raiders-Ravens game and were met with a dizzying back-and-forth contest that was shaped by huge gains and goal-line stops. Porreca, like many others traveling to Vegas, was likely unsure what he was getting himself into because of COVID-19 and health restrictions, but the experience was worth it. He said, “It’s not anything like last year. They were taking your temperature, and I think a lot of people were more frightened about COVID. People have kind of gotten used to it now. They do have safeguards in place. They make you wear a mask whether you’re vaccinated or not. I feel pretty comfortable, even gaming at the tables (Saturday) night, that Vegas will remain open. It’s pretty normal.”
Online Sportsbooks Find Their Niche
With Week 1 having wrapped up yesterday, it’s too early to know how much money was wagered, but books have been dropping hints at some pretty big figures. If data from GeoComply Solutions is any gauge, all predictions of a record betting season were right on target. GeoComply’s geofencing solution is used in states across the US and, from last Thursday through Sunday night, recorded 58.2 million geolocation transactions in 18 states and Washington, DC. That’s 126% more than it recorded last year in the same period.
There are now 26 states, plus DC, that offer legal sports betting and while some states, like Nebraska and Maryland, still haven’t finished framing their own markets, the number is a substantial increase from the 18 states that were live a year ago. Given that some estimates put online sports betting at 80% of the entire segment, those states that were smart enough to approve mobile operations are going to see the most bang for their buck.
GeoComply’s data revealed that most of the activity was found in five states – Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Arizona is the latest to join the group, having just launched its sports betting market last Thursday as the first game of the NFL regular season was about to be played. Since then, Arizona has proven to be a hotbed of sports wagers, with 6.1 geolocation transactions being recorded from 271,000 new in-state sports betting accounts. Although the transactions don’t necessarily correlate directly to a wager, they’re a good indication of what’s coming, and what other states are missing.