It’s a given in each state that the February sports betting handle can never match the numbers from January. Not only are there fewer calendar days, but all but one NFL postseason game is played in January.
Plus that’s the month for the NCAA college football championship game, while February mostly is left for the NBA and NHL with some tennis and golf bets thrown into the mix.
Because of those factors, many states see handle drop by 20% to 30% each February compared to the previous month.
Yet according to February betting figures finally released by the Arizona Department of Gaming on Wednesday (about a month later than most states announced them), the AZ sportsbooks took in $609 million in bets – compared to $591.2 million in January.
That February figure also was up a whopping $117 million versus February 2022 in Arizona. That surged Arizona all the way up to sixth place in betting handle for the month, bettered only by betting behemoth states New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Nevada, and Ohio.
ADG Director Jackie Johnson issued a statement that he believes fueled this anomaly of being the only U.S. state to see a handle rise in February compared to January.
“These figures highlight a robust event wagering market during the month, which encompassed wagering from Super Bowl LVII hosted here in Arizona,” Johnson said.
It is difficult to picture any other reason for the unique numbers.
Where The Big Bettors Are From
The Super Bowl brings in tens of thousands of wealthy tourists – some of whom spend the weekend celebrating without having a ticket to the game that was played on Feb. 12 at State Farm Stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale.
This year not only marked a first for a Super Bowl in terms of the host state featuring legal sports betting, but the Philadelphia Eagles also became the first “Super” team from a state with legal sports betting.
So for many Eagles fans from all over Pennsylvania who traveled to Arizona for the game, signing up for a mobile betting app or making in-person bets adjacent to the stadium must have seemed only natural.
The 17,000 square foot BetMGM Sportsbook in the Great Lawn section of the stadium complex includes a 265 square foot video wall with more than 35 HD TV screens. There also are five traditional sports betting windows and more than two dozen self-service betting kiosks.
Sports betting is not yet legal in Missouri, home of the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs, nor is it legal just across the nearby border in Kansas.
So some visiting Chiefs fans no doubt exploited their opportunity to give legal betting a try during their stay. And with the prevalence of in-game live betting options, some of these generally well-off fans had an opportunity to keep trying to win big throughout the game.
Of course, a major portion of Super Bowl tickets go to corporate sponsors of the NFL. And some of those visitors obtaining tickets – particularly those from the largest U.S. states California, Florida, and Texas, none of which have legal betting – also presumably helped boost the month’s handle to very surprising heights.
What’s Next For Super Bowl Betting?
The NFL already has announced that the 2024 Super Bowl will be held in Las Vegas – which being part of Nevada, shared the statewide virtual monopoly on sports betting in the U.S. until a landmark ruling by the Supreme Court in 2018 spawned a multi-billion dollar new industry.
The numbers that just came out from this year’s Super Bowl mean no one will be stunned to see a major increase in wagering totals in Nevada next February.
However, mobile sports betting accounts currently only can be opened there by first visiting a casino in person to sign up. If that regulation isn’t tweaked by the weekend of next February 9-11, that could mean long lines at the casinos of visitors unaware of that quirk.
The 2025 Super Bowl will be held at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, and Louisiana has no such limitation of signing up for mobile sports betting apps.
The NFL has not yet announced the sites of future Super Bowls, but it will be interesting to see if the league schedules future title games in states that don’t offer legal sports betting.
Florida (17) and California (14) have played host to more than half of the 57 Super Bowls, and Texas has been the site four times while Georgia and Minnesota – which also have yet to legalize sports betting – have been chosen twice each as the home state for the Super Bowl.