April 8, 2021 4 min read


US Sports Gambling Report by Kambi Shows Where the Big Plays Are

It’s a well-established fact that sports gambling has always been popular in the US, even before the Supreme Court killed PASPA in 2018. With the demise of that misguided piece of legislation and the subsequent attention, states have given to sports gambling, there have been continuing efforts to introduce legal markets across the country, with over 25 states now on board. More are on the way and there is even the possibility that sports gambling will be addressed at the federal legislative level. Kambi, a company that provides B2B sports gambling services, has released a detailed report on the productivity of sports gambling in the US last year. It might be enough to help lawmakers realize the positive impact legal sports gambling markets have.

Football Still King of Sports Gambling

Football, particularly NFL football, continues to be the top option for sports gamblers. It enjoyed the biggest percentage of the overall handle last year, followed by basketball and baseball. The game between the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last November saw the largest regular-season handle, while Super Bowl LV took the top spot overall. Not unsurprisingly, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bucs took the top two spots, respectively, in terms of the handle.

Tom Brady got off to a slow start in his first year as quarterback for the Bucs, which could explain his position among the top five players by the handle. Two Chiefs quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce took the first two spots, but Brady was bested by New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara and had to settle for fourth place. The seven-time Super Bowl champ and five-time Super Bowl MVP ultimately showed that he still has his skills, leading the Bucs to take Super Bowl LV against the Chiefs.

Alternative Bets Gain In Popularity

Moneyline and spread bets are consistent favorites among sports gamblers in football, but prop bets have gained significant ground in recent years. Now, with legal sports gambling markets popping up across the US, live wagers, instant bets and in-game options are beginning to see a lot of action. Live wagers increased by 390% last year over the 2019 result and in-game wagers continue to become a more lucrative option for gamblers. According to Kambi, in-game stake sizes on mobile platforms were 50% larger than pre-game stakes last year.

Stand-alone games, those played at times when no other games are being played, proved to draw a crowd. The handle on these games was three times higher on average than that of other games and instant betting volumes doubled when they were played. Instant wagers saw a great deal of action, as well, and were responsible for 40% of all live NFL wagers. That allowed the handle from instant markets to see year-on-year growth of 400% and the popularity of these markets increased as the season advanced.

Final Super Bowl Betting Numbers Still Absent

In 2020, the legal sports gambling market in the US saw a handle of around $300 million on the Super Bowl. The final tally hasn’t yet been produced for Super Bowl LV this year, but initial indications have put the handle at possibly over $500 million – over $136 million of which was just in Nevada. Regardless of the outcome of the game, the states win as they collect revenue on all wagers, but this latest Super Bowl proved to be especially lucrative for sportsbooks. The Chiefs, set on defending last year’s title win and coming off a strong 2020-21 season performance, were expected to beat Brady and the Bucs. Most of the gambling money – around 74% by some estimates – was spent on Kansas City to win, but the upset victory by the Bucs gave sportsbooks a nice payday.


Erik brings his unique writing talents and storytelling flare to cover a wide range of gambling topics. He has written for a number of industry-related publications over the years, providing insight into the constantly evolving world of gaming. A huge sports fan, he especially enjoys football and anything related to sports gambling. Erik is particularly interested in seeing how sports gambling and online gaming are transforming the larger gaming ecosystem.

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