Like many events in sports and throughout our worlds in the last year, Super Bowl LV will be like no other that has been held in the history of the NFL because of the overwhelming impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Betting is not immune to the clutches of COVID, but the good news for bettors is that online betting options have never been better. While the American Gaming Association recently issued a survey that led it to say it believes there will be a 37-percent decrease in overall betting on 2021 Super Bowl, the same survey revealed that a record number of 7.6 million United States citizens will place their bets on mobile apps and websites this year.
Overall, according to the AGA, approximately 23.2 million Americans are expected to place bets on the NFL championship game, down 12 percent from last year. The total amount wagered, again according to the AGA, is expected to be $4.3 billion – down from the $6.8 billion that was wagered on Super Bowl LIV a year ago.
The reasons for the overall decrease is directly related to the pandemic. Many casual bettors won’t be participating in office pools or traveling to legal sportsbooks in the United States for a day of leisurely gambling. The American Gambling Association projects that there has been a 61-percent decrease in betting at in-person sportsbooks in the last year, obviously due to the pandemic that has closed many of them and tight restrictions put in place to help limit spread of the disease.
The pandemic has led even casual bettors to check out the mobile and online gambling scene more thoroughly, with many viable options such as MyBookie, Bovada and others reliable and readily available to the masses.
The increased adoption of legal betting in the United States, where 25 states and Washington D.C. have now legalized sports gambling in some form, also has contributed to this increase. Michigan and Virginia joined the party by recently launching sports-betting markets, and North Carolina does not appear to be far behind in at least opening up in-person sportsbooks at two casinos that already are operating and ready to go.
There are other noticeable impacts COVID has had on this year’s Super Bowl, including the fact that it’s actually cheaper to buy a ticket to see the game in person. As of Friday afternoon, the average ticket price was $6,200, which represents an 18-percent decrease in the average of $6,381 per ticket that fans paid to see the big game live last year.
In addition to the fact that it still remains an inflated ticket price out of the range of most average fans, is that the ticket is harder to get nonetheless. Because of the pandemic, the NFL is allowing only 25,000 fans into Tampa Bay’s 65,000-seat Raymond James Stadium, including 7,500 vaccinated health workers.
So fewer tickets are available. And of course there is the risk that those in attendance might catch COVID, although the NFL has taken precautions in an attempt to keep that from happening.
The NFL has said it will distribute kits that include hand sanitizers and KN95 masks to fans in attendance for Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the hometown Tampa Bay Buccaneers to help limit any spread.
NFL executive Jeff Miller (who oversees the NFL’s public and policy affairs) told CNBC that mask-wearing will be mandatory for fans, players and team personnel, and that the league will also enforce social-distancing measures.
“It’s been a lot of work by a lot of people and a lot of engagement with local, state, and national health officials to do this as safely as can be done,”