When the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers faced off in the 2020 Super Bowl, legal sportsbooks were up and running in 14 states and the American Gaming Association estimated Americans would bet $6.8 billion on the big game.
Four years later, with the teams once again playing for the Lombardi Trophy, 38 states and Washington, D.C., allow sports betting, and the gaming industry trade group’s wagering estimate has grown to an eye-popping $23.1 billion.
The AGA expects 11% of American adults to place legal bets on Super Bowl LVIII and 26% to place any type of bet, including illegal online bets and casual wagers between friends. Notably, this year’s game will be held in Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the U.S.
California-based fans of the 49ers and Missouri-based fans of the Chiefs who want to legally bet on the game are out of luck, however. Neither state allows legal sports betting, although a coalition of sportsbooks and professional sports teams are trying to get a legalization measure on Missouri’s November ballot.
More states could allow or expand legal sports betting this year. The AGA is tracking bills that would legalize sports wagering in Hawaii, Georgia and Oklahoma and allow mobile betting apps to operate in Mississippi.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) reportedly backs a bill that would legalize casinos, a state lottery and sports wagering in the state.
But there are major barriers to legalization in holdout states. That includes constitutional bans on gambling, conflicts between Native American tribes and other gaming operators, and religion-rooted opposition, Pluribus News reported in December. The Alabama bill, for instance, must both be passed by the legislature and be approved by voters.
Sports betting brought in more than $1.8 billion for state and local governments last fiscal year. Revenues generated — including on Super Bowl Sunday — depend on whether players or gaming operators win more legal bets.