Super Bowl Bets: $23.1 Billion Expected, But What Does it Mean?

BetSided's Wade Snow takes a look at the $23.1 billion expected in Super Bowl bets, and what it means for the game and sports betting as a whole.

Super Bowl LVIII - Previews
Super Bowl LVIII - Previews / Ethan Miller/GettyImages

Super Bowl Sunday has been an American staple for nearly six decades, but it will look much different this year than ever before.

According to a recent study from the American Gaming Association, 68 million American adults are expected to wager $23.1 billion on this Sunday's matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers.

That means that 26% of all legal Americans will be wagering on "The Big Game" for an amount surpassing the annual GDP of Zimbabwe.

Yes, you read that correctly.

If you are a frequent visitor of BetSided, chances are you already have at least one bet locked in for the Super Bowl or at least know what direction you are leaning.

But what about this game has led to a 35% increase in expected bets from last year's Super Bowl? Hint: it has nothing to do with the game itself.

Sports betting, in some capacity, is now legal in 38 states, while mobile sports betting is now available in 30 states. Consequently, more than two thirds of Americans can now legally sports bet.

However, that is only a marginal increase from 2023, with 37 states allowing some form of sports betting and 28 states allowing mobile bets. What has changed?

The answer is simple: consumer exposure.

The sports betting industry is rumored to have seen an investment of $2B in 2023, up 8% from the previous year. But three of the four top sports betting brands (FanDuel, DraftKings, BetMGM, PrizePicks) saw a decrease in advertising spending. How, then, have they managed to increase exposure?

It all comes down to television.

While FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM saw decreased total advertising costs, all saw massive increases in TV marketing.

FanDuel saw an 18% increase in TV spending, with its budget rising to $157.7 million. DraftKings is up 23% in the same category, while BetMGM saw its TV spending increase by 45%. PrizePicks, the only one of the four that saw a total increase in advertising expenditure in 2023, increased its TV spend by a jaw-dropping 413%.

Why the focus on television over other mediums like digital, print, and social media?

Direct engagement, of course. It is much easier to ignore advertisements through those channels than television.

A recent study conducted by CBC's Marketplace and researchers from the University of Bristol saw that, on average, 21% of sports broadcasts are spent watching gambling advertisements. It is important to note that this study was conducted throughout seven games, five NHL and 2 NBA.

Why is it essential, you may ask?

Even with a seven-game sample size, it is evident that leagues like the NHL and NBA are receiving enormous investments from the most prominent sports betting brands. But it pales in comparison to the NFL, which receives 80% of betting brands' TV ad spending. While the Super Bowl attracts hockey, basketball, and non-sports fans, it is safe to assume that most viewers have seen at least one other NFL game this season.

With the increase in the number of ads consumers see, there has also been a rise in industry investment in "responsible gambling." 75% of traditional Super Bowl bettors report seeing a responsible gambling message in the last year, up 4% from the previous year. 47% of all legal Americans also reported seeing the same messages, up 7% annually.

So, whether you are a sports bettor or not, it is nearly impossible to escape advertisements for sports betting or warnings of its dangers.

By now, you understand the increase in sports betting nationwide. But where will the majority of that $23.1 billion be bet? And what will it be bet on?

Source: American Gaming Association
Source: American Gaming Association /

As you can see, most Super Bowl betting will be done online, but how much will it be done through legal outlets? 

Even though the U.S. gaming industry indicated that legalizing things would eliminate underground bookies and offshore sportsbooks, rogue bets are still beating out the legal ones. Of the $23.1 billion expected to be gambled, only $1.5 billionor less than 6%, will be done through legal channels.

As far as the actual game is concerned, bettors are split on the outcome. According to the AGA, 47% of bettors are expected to be siding with the Chiefs, with 44% leaning toward the 49ers. That number indicates the percentage of bettors, but what about the overall money?

Early bets are heavily slanted toward Kansas City, with BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel each reporting 71%-76% of spread bets being placed on the Chiefs. That majority increases substantially when looking at moneyline bets, with 85% being placed on Kansas City as of Feb. 2.

But, as any seasoned gambler will tell you, public money is rarely the best indicator of the outcome. It is crucial to watch the "sharp" bettors to fully understand betting trends and where you can find value.

If you are unfamiliar,  sharp bettor refers to individuals or groups who approach sports betting as a serious business aimed at making money. Unlike casual bettors who wager for fun or to spice up the game, these sharps focus on outsmarting the sportsbooks and making a profit. They are typically responsible for the most significant wagers placed.

So, where are the sharp bettors leaning? Let's look at the biggest bets the legal sports outlets have received so far.

$1 million: Caesar Sportsbook reported the first of what is expected to be several million-dollar bets on the San Francisco money line (-120).

$260,000: FanDuel received a $260k bet on the San Francisco moneyline at -130. If the 49ers win, he will receive $200k.

$105,000: The King of Vegas, Hall of Fame Bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, is taking the 49ers -1.

$25,000: A DraftKings bettor took Isiah Pacheco to win the Super Bowl MVP at 40-1 odds for a payout of $1 million.

While early bets seem that the sharp bettors are all over the 49ers, we will keep track as Sunday inches closer. You can read more about what our team at BetSided thinks about the game here.

If you will be one of more than 68 million Americans betting on the Super Bowl, I wish you the best of luck. As I often have to remind myself, it is a game at the end of the day. Please bet responsibly and enjoy the country's most celebrated holiday.

Odd refresh periodically and are subject to change.