How Sports Betting Became The Comeback Story Of The Year

Written By Nicole Russo on February 15, 2022
Sports Betting records

While industries like travel and entertainment continue a slow climb back to pre-pandemic levels, the gaming industry is stronger than ever. The American Gaming Association (AGA) broke down key growth factors and sports betting records while highlighting goals for the upcoming year in a Feb. 15 webinar.

Gaming is up 20% with all-time high numbers jumping $23 billion over COVID-impacted 2020. The industry shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Why has gaming seen such a boom in the last few years?

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Legal Sports Betting Is Bigger Than Ever

Currently, more than 130 million adults can legally wager on sports close to their homes. Sports betting is now legal in some form in 30 states plus Washington, DC.

According to the AGA’s report on commercial gaming, sports betting generated over $57 billion in handle and over $4 billion in revenue in 2021.

Those numbers represent 165% and 177% increases over 2020 numbers, respectively.

Why is the growth so big?

One key factor discussed in the webinar was how quickly gaming establishments re-opened their doors amidst COVID-19. Communities pushed to re-open gaming properties when other entertainment venues still remained closed.

Plus, online sports betting never went anywhere to begin with. Four new commercial gaming markets opened in 2021. Arizona, Connecticut, Virginia, and Wyoming launching gave more people than ever access to sports wagering.

Those new customers were eager to bet, especially on huge events like the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl LVI Breaks Sports Betting Records

Before kickoff, the AGA estimated that over 31 million American adults planned to wager over $7 billion on the Super Bowl.

Compared to last year’s big game, 35% more Americans planned to make a wager on the matchup between the Rams and the Bengals. Around 12.9 million Americans planned to place those wagers online, up 70% from 2021.

Not all states have released official numbers yet, but the ones that have are sharing record numbers.

Nevada sportsbooks took in a record-setting $179.8 million in wagers on the Super Bowl. That beat the state’s previous record from four years ago by $21 million.

New Jersey reported $143.7 million was wagered on this year’s big game. Sportsbooks made $7.8 million in revenue.

Generous new-user offers from online sportsbooks definitely added to the growing interest in wagering. After the Rams’ comeback, FanDuel Sportsbook paid out $38 million to new customers with its “bet $5, win $280” offer.

American Gaming Association Releases 2022 Goals

The AGA is well aware that American adults have always bet on sports — now, they just have regulated options to do so. One of the organization’s goals for 2022 is getting more people away from offshore sportsbooks and onto regulated ones.

Legal sportsbooks are now searched 10x more often than their biggest offshore competitors, and the majority of Americans favor online sports betting ads shown on tv.

But, the media still frequently uses offshore odds, giving unregulated sportsbooks free publicity. The AGA aims to stop that this year.

Another goal moving forward is more resources and visibility for responsible gaming. Streamlining access to problem gambling resources is a top priority in 2022. As gaming continues to expand and sports betting records continue being broken across the country, the need for these resources continues to rise.

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Written by
Nicole Russo

Nicole Russo is the Brand Content Strategist for Previously, she covered the gambling industries in Tennessee and Indiana as a content editor for and She comes from the world of poker, leading the marketing efforts for online poker in Nevada and New Jersey with the WSOP. Russo also assisted with the marketing efforts for the Caesars Sportsbook launch in 2019.

View all posts by Nicole Russo