Kambi Report Shows Just How The NFL Rules Among U.S. Bettors

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The just-completed NFL season provided plenty of information to Kambi about sports bettors in Pennsylvania and elsewhere in the U.S., including the fact that two of every five across the country used a pro football game last fall for their first legal wager.

The European-based business-to-business company, which supplies odds in running the sports betting platform for five of Pennsylvania’s sportsbooks, last week publicly released its Kambi 2019/20 NFL Season Report. Pennsylvanians who use the online sites of DraftKings, BetRivers, PlaySugarHouse, Unibet, and Parx were among those nationally whose habits were summarized.

“Football was the most popular sport to bet on in the U.S. in 2019 and is now the fourth most popular sport across the entire global Kambi network,” the report stated. “By some distance it is also the sport most favored by first-time bettors in the U.S.”

It noted that in September, in particular, 60% of new U.S. bettors placed their first wager on the NFL rather than anything else and 19% did so on a college football game.

U.S. bettors aren’t always like rest of the world

It has long been known that U.S. bettors favor football, especially the NFL, over other sports wagering opportunities, but Kambi has been accustomed to dealing with different interests elsewhere in the world.

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The company jumped at the chance to enter the U.S. market after the Supreme Court lifted a federal ban on sports betting outside Nevada in 2018. During this past NFL season, it was providing odds, risk management, and other services for online and/or retail sports betting operators in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, Indiana, New York, and Iowa.

Kambi found the top 10 most popular sports for betting by U.S. customers in 2019 to be, in order, football, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, hockey, golf, UFC/MMA, boxing, and cricket. Elsewhere in the world, soccer dominated, followed by tennis and then basketball, with football fourth.

While the NFL is No. 1 for them, most U.S. bettors don’t want to wager on it alone, Kambi found. The report said only 3% of those betting do it solely on the NFL, while 58% place bets across the board on it and college football, pro and college basketball, MLB, and the NHL.

The favorite type of NFL bet among customers of Kambi-backed sites before games started was on the point spread, followed by the over/under on total points and a parlay of the moneyline and total points.

For live, in-game NFL betting, the moneyline was most commonly used, followed by spread and total points. The “result of drive” option made up 8% of the live handle.

At retail locations, Kambi said, two-thirds of bets made were by kiosk instead of at betting counters, and kiosks were used for 80% of in-game wagers placed within the casinos.

Among the 32 teams, the most bets during the season were placed, in order, on the Patriots, Seahawks, Chiefs, Packers, and Eagles, Kambi reported.

Aside from the Super Bowl, the biggest handle on any game was for the Jan. 19 NFC Conference Championship, in which the 49ers hosted and beat the Packers.

Photo by Jason Vinlove / USA Today Sports

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Gary Rotstein

Gary is a longtime journalist, having spent three decades covering gambling, state government, and other issues for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in addition to stints as managing editor of the Bedford (Pa.) Gazette and as a reporter for United Press International and the Middletown (Conn.) Press. Contact Gary at [email protected].

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