Just How Super Was Super Bowl LV Betting? Take A Look At The Numbers

Posted By Derek Helling on February 10, 2021
Super Bowl handle how much money gambled spent betting

Super Bowl LV did not exactly deliver on drama, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers controlled much of the game en route to a 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. However, Super Bowl LV betting was far from disappointing, as the event delivered for sportsbooks around the country yet again.

Legal sports betting outlets around the country are reporting record handle for the NFL’s championship game. According to Legal Sports Report, the 12 states (and Washington D.C.) that have reported full or preliminary handle results for Super Bowl 55 so far have totaled a whopping $436.6 million. More than $280 million was reported by legal betting states for the 2020 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers – so there is already a new benchmark.

And because a lot of the money on Super Bowl LV was on Kansas City instead of Tampa Bay, it was a good night for the books in another way.

Super Bowl LV betting setting records across the country

If you want hard numbers to prove the popularity of betting markets on the game, look no further than the most mature online gambling market in the country. New Jersey sportsbooks – apps, casinos, racetracks, websites – handled a new high of $117.4 million.

That’s over twice as much as operators in the Garden State handled on Super Bowl LIV. Oregon also set a new record for handle at $3.5 million. Unconfirmed reports also suggest that handle in Illinois surpassed expectations.

The reality is that the total figure may have been higher, however. Some technical glitches held back some operators from accepting all potential wagers in several markets.

Barstool, BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, and FanDuel sportsbooks all reported service outages during the game. In essence, the platforms were the victim of their own successes. A spokesperson for Kambi, which powers BetRivers and DraftKings, created a backlog in the validation process.

“This specific problem was quickly identified and rectified ahead of kickoff, at which point Kambi processed the highest ever bet volumes in its history,” the spokesman said. “Beyond this specific issue, all systems responded within acceptable performance limits.”

We’ll never know how many more in-game bets bettors could have placed if able on Sunday night. What is clear, however, is that sportsbooks did quite well in terms of hold regardless of the technical difficulties.

NJ sportsbooks record first winning Super Bowl

Since legal online sportsbooks launched in NJ, they’ve mostly lost out to the betting public.

This year’s $11.3 million in hold is a state record for the Super Bowl by a long shot. For Super Bowl LIV, they lost $4.3 million. So why the drastic swing? That’s simple. The public money went on Kansas City at the stated odds.

Before the game, DraftKings Director of Operations Johnny Avello said that the book was heavy on Kansas City at three points. Avello said that moving the line to 3.5 points changed that preference, but the 3-point margin was where the book ended up.

The total, which was set at 54.5 points at most books but wound up being just 40 points, likely confounded many bettors as well. Speaking in generalities, bettors tend to prefer the Over in football games. With Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes at the helm of the offenses, the Over on this contest was likely too tempting to bet against.

With new records in the rearview mirror now, the question is, what’s next for betting on Super Bowl games? Could the action on Super Bowl LVI surpass even these figures? The odds look good right now.

Super Bowl LVI betting may prove superior if things go right

While action on the Super Bowl in 2022 is subject to what the matchup for the game ends up being, there are three solid reasons why legal sportsbooks across the country may have an even better year:

  • New markets: It’s possible that online sportsbooks in Louisiana and Maryland, in addition to retail books in North Carolina, South Dakota, and Washington state could be live in time for Super Bowl LVI
  • More mature markets: Prior to SB LV, online books in Michigan and Virginia were less than a month old. Additionally, online registration in Iowa was just about a month old
  • Better technology: After the server failures that sportsbooks experienced this year, they will likely double their efforts to be able to accept all traffic next February

Could we see handle approach $150 million on Super Bowl LVI in NJ? It’s not out of the realm of possibility. What’s clear is that the ceiling on Super Bowl betting action still isn’t within sight.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Chicago. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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