Super Bowl 53 Could See a $6 Billion Handle, Patriots Get Most of the Action

On Monday, the American Gaming Association released the results of a recent survey focused on Super Bowl 53 betting. These findings were absolutely staggering, as the AGA found that nearly 23 million American adults plan to bet on this year’s Super Bowl. That’s nearly 1 out of every 10 American adults betting on the biggest sporting event of the year.

With that many adults placing wagers on the Super Bowl, the AGA expects legal sportsbooks across the country to take in a total handle of $6 billion dollars.

Why Such a Huge Sports Handle?

The term “handle” refers to the total amount of wagers placed on an event or game. For SB LIII, the AGA expects a $6 billion dollar handle before sportsbooks have to pay out the winners.  This number would shatter all previous records.

The reason for such a massive handle is because the United States Supreme Court overturned PASPA in May 2018, which now allows states to legalize sports betting if they choose.

Since that landmark decision by SCOTUS, seven states have joined Nevada with full legalized sports betting: Delaware, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Mississippi and New Mexico.

There are at least another dozen states examining the possibility of legalizing sports betting in 2019, with active bills currently being studied by each state’s legislature.

Bill Miller, president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, commented on why he believes the handle will be so high:

“The interest in legal, regulated sports betting in the United States has never been higher. More Americans than ever before will be able to place their bets with legal sportsbooks now operating in eight states, generating valuable revenue for state, local and tribal governments and increasing fan engagement with the game.”

Which Team Will These 22.7 Million Americans Bet On?

According to the AGA’s study, 52% of the 22.7 million Americans plan to bet on the Los Angeles Rams. That leaves 48% of these bettors claiming they will wager on the New England Patriots. Despite what the survey claims, that’s not what sportsbooks have been seeing so far.

When the odds first came out, the Rams were favored by 1 point. That sparked a massive initial rush of wagers on the Patriots, which shifted the line 3.5 points. Currently, New England is favored by 2.5 points with most sports betting sites.

The first few days of Super Bowl betting saw at least 80% of the action placed on the Patriots and 85% of the handle placed on New England.

With just 6 days until SB 53 is played, Nevada sportsbooks are reporting that roughly 67% of the action has been on the Patriots spread. Almost 90% of the money bet on the SB 53 spread has been for New England to cover the 2.5 points.

One way that sportsbooks have tried to get more money on the Rams, has been to bump up the spread to Los Angeles +3. This line change can be seen at both Vegas sportsbooks and online betting sites like Bovada. It has also inspired bettors to place more action on the Rams.

Despite the current action, many Vegas sportsbooks expect the majority of SB bets and money to be placed over the final two days before kickoff. That means, there’s still a chance for these reported percentages within the AGA’s study to hit.

Illegal Gambling Is Still Expected

Although 8 states now offer legal sports betting, it’s still expected that a large number of Americans will continue to participate in “illegal” sports betting. According to the AGA’s study, an estimated 1.8 million American adults plan to illegally place SB 53 wagers through bookies and offshore sportsbooks.

Illegal sports betting has been a catalyst for many states to legalize betting on sporting games and events. However, there still is stiff opposition within each state’s legislature and from professional sports leagues. The NFL continues to try and oppose legal sports betting.

Their latest attempt was to try and get SB 53 prop bets banned. It’s surprising as to how hard the NFL is fighting this losing battle, especially considering that the AGA believes the NFL can make over $2 billion dollars annually due to legalized sports betting leading to an increase in fan engagement.

About the Super Bowl Study

This survey was conducted by Morning Consult on behalf of the AGA, and took place on January 22, 2019. Roughly 2,200 adults were interviewed online. The results have a (+/-) 2% margin of error.

Rick Rockwell

As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at to become the self-professed "King of the Blog" in his first year with the site.

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