Nevada sportsbooks have been taking bets on Super Bowl LI for nearly a year, but the action has heated up in the Mojave Desert since the teams competing in the big game were settled two Sundays ago.

Super Bowl 51 Nevada sportsbooks offshore sites Tom Brady
New England quarterback Tom Brady is chasing his fifth Super Bowl ring, and while few are betting against him, the only guarantee on the big game is that Nevada sportsbooks will loose to the offshore sites. (Image: Virginia Sherwood/Associated Press)

The New England Patriots remain a three-point favorite over the Atlanta Falcons at land-based sportsbooks in the Silver State. The oddsmakers expect to have $132 million on the books before the 6:30 pm ET kickoff on Sunday, and while that’s a significant number, it pales in comparison to the revenues online casinos are pulling in.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) says in a press release that Americans will wager $4.7 billion on Super Bowl LI, meaning almost $4,568,000,000 will be bet through quasi-legal outlets. The AGA, which lobbies DC politicians on behalf of the gaming industry, says regulated sports betting markets would provide millions in tax revenue to states, and create safer betting platforms for gamblers.

“As we mark the 25th anniversary of a failed law, it’s time for Washington to get out of the way and lift the federal prohibition that pushes sports fans to a rapidly growing illegal betting market,” AGA CEO Geoff Freeman declared. “A regulated marketplace would generate tax revenue and jobs, protect consumers and leverage cutting-edge technology to strengthen the integrity of the games we all love.”

By the Numbers

According to the AGA’s findings, 97 percent of all Super Bowl LI bets will be placed on offshore websites, with underground bookies, or amongst friends and coworkers. The firm says its estimates are on the conservative end of the spectrum.

In its methodology, the AGA says it used the 1999 National Gambling Impact Study Commission’s Final Report on that year’s Super Bowl, and then applied gross domestic product (GDP) growth as reported by the Census Bureau to reach its current figures.

Unfortunately for Nevada’s authorized sports betting markets, as well as those that operate online and overseas, the failure to see the Cowboys or Packers in the big game created less enthusiasm. 

Instead, the AFC Champion Patriots will take on the Falcons, the team that dismantled the Packers in in the NFC title game 44-21.

Passing on PASPA

The AGA believes it’s time to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The federal statute makes it illegal for Americans to place bets on college or professional sports.

Though Nevada continues to take advantage of an exemption it was afforded during the law’s passage in 1992, the vast majority of sports bets today take place on offshore websites and through underground bookies.

That’s reducing tax revenues for state governments and also creating a risky, unregulated environment for those looking to place a financial incentive on a sporting event, at least according to the AGA.

New Jersey is currently petitioning the US Supreme Court to review PASPA and its wishes to legalize sports betting. Though the odds of the high court taking the case would seem unlikely, earlier this month the justices requested the US solicitor general file a brief on the federal government’s view of sports gambling.

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