Albany Times Union

Legal bets just small piece of pie

- By Wayne Parry

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — As legal sports gambling proliferat­es, the number of Americans betting on the Super Bowl and the total amount they’re wagering is surging — although most of the action is still off the books.

An estimated 1 in 5 American adults will make some sort of bet, laying out a whopping $16 billion, or twice as much as last year, according to an industry trade group.

Even as legal gambling has spread to two-thirds of U.S. states, independen­t analysts say only about $1 billion of the total being wagered on Sunday’s game will happen through casinos, racetracks or companies such as Fanduel and Draftkings, whose ads have become ubiquitous during sporting events.

The vast majority of people, in other words, are still betting with friends and family, participat­ing in office pools or taking their chances with a bookie.

More than 50 million American adults are expected to bet on the national championsh­ip game between the Philadelph­ia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, according to the American Gaming Associatio­n. That’s an increase of 61 percent from last year.

Experts in addiction say aggressive advertisin­g is contributi­ng to a rise in problem gambling.

“As sports betting expands, the risk of gambling problems expands,” said Keith Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling.

Thirty-three states, plus Washington, D.C., now offer legal sports betting, and more than half of all American adults live in one of those markets.

“Every year, the Super Bowl serves to highlight the benefits of legal sports betting,” said Bill Miller, the gambling associatio­n’s president and CEO. “Bettors are transition­ing to the protection­s of the regulated market ... and legal operators are driving needed tax revenue to states across the country.”

But legal sports betting still represents just a small piece of the pie.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming Research, an independen­t analytics firm in California, estimates that just over $1 billion of this year’s Super Bowl bets will be made legally. The leading states are: Nevada ($155 million); New York ($111 million); Pennsylvan­ia ($91 million); Ohio ($85 million) and New Jersey ($84 million.)

The research firm estimates 10 percent to 15 percent of that total would be wagered live after the game begins. Another 15 percent to 20 percent would come in the form of same-game parlays, or a combinatio­n of bets involving the same game, such as betting on the winner, the total points scored and how many passing yards Eagles QB Jalen Hurts will accumulate.

On Tuesday, New Jersey gambling regulators unveiled new requiremen­ts for sports books to analyze the data they collect about their customers to look for evidence of problem gambling, and to take various steps to intervene with these customers when warranted.

As of Tuesday, the Eagles were 1.5-point favorites over the Chiefs on Fanduel, the official odds provider to The Associated Press.

Bettors are evenly split on who will win the game, according to the gaming industry associatio­n.

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