As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off the 2021 NFL season with a victory, sports wagering in the United States followed behind with a win of its own. Not only did more states legalize sports wagering before the start of the 2021 season, but an increase in wagers placed on NFL games was recorded too.
The NFL’s popularity is a major reason why government officials worked to legalize sports wagering in various states before the start of the 2021 season. The average television viewership of a single NFL game ranges between 14 to 16 million viewers, making it one of the most-watched sports in the United States. Also due to the closure of land-based casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic, wagers placed online became increasingly popular. Keeping the NFL’s popularity and the growth of online gaming in mind, government officials in states such as Arizona took major steps to legalize sports wagering just in time for the NFL’s season opener. The legalization of sports wagering in states such as Arizona, not only helps in setting up online sportsbooks, but also retail locations. This provides NFL fans with local sports wagering options as compared to other states.
The NFL weekend opener also proved to be a moneymaker for the U.S. sports wagering market. According to a report by GeoComply, “there were 58.2 million geolocation transactions across 18 states and the District of Columbia, from Thursday, September 9th through 7 PM ET on Sunday, September 12th”—this is a 126% increase when compared to the 2020 NFL season. Out of the 58.2 million transactions, Arizona’s newly legalized sports wagering market recorded 6.1 million geolocations transactions on the first day of the NFL season. GeoComply’s Managing Director of Gaming, Lindsay Slader, mentioned: “Preparing for this NFL season has been a process that began before the end of last season, and we expected high volumes, but what we have seen has surprised us nonetheless.” During the NFL opening weekend, Arizona’s figures prove that regulated sports wagering is popular and in-demand around the United States.
Keeping the current trends and growth in mind, the 2021 NFL season is set to be a game-changer for America’s sports wagering industry. Not only will this season contribute a major segment to America’s online gaming revenue, but it may also inspire regulators to legalize sports wagering throughout the country.