Unprecedented times: Super Bowl plus legalized sports betting could equal good fortune for Arizona

BetMGM opened a sportsbook at State Farm Stadium in September, the first one to open in an NFL stadium. The venue, which brought in $2 million in revenue in October, expects record numbers for the upcoming Super Bowl. (File photo by Austin Ford/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Shortly after the final whistle in the AFC Championship gam3, NFL fans quickly shifted their attention to the opening betting lines for the 2023 Super Bowl. For bettors, the Super Bowl is the holy grail of sports betting, as it is the biggest sporting event in the United States. In 2022, a record 31.4 million Americans wagered a record $7.61 billion on Super Bowl 56 in Los Angeles, according to the American Gaming Association.

However, the 2023 Super Bowl differentiates itself from any other when it comes to the betting world. This year marks the first time the big game is hosted in a state where sports gambling is legal. Arizona is expected to bring in a historic amount of money on Super Bowl Sunday.

About a week before the main event, the NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles are favored by 1.5 points over the AFC champion Kansas City Chiefs. However, what makes the Super Bowl special in the eyes of sports bettors are the various prop bets that are only available during the game. This includes an over/under on the length of the national anthem, bets on heads or tails for the coin toss and even what celebrities will be shown during specific advertisements.

As a bettor, the variety of bets during the Super Bowl keeps an audience engaged throughout the entire game.

“I mean, the Super Bowl is the major wagering event of the year for sportsbooks in the U.S.,” said Geoff Zochodne, a sports betting reporter for Covers, a company that provides information analysis and statistics about sports betting. “Bettors just want to wager on everything that has to do with the game for entertainment purposes, and so you have those Super Bowl-specific markets that get a lot of attention.”

One of the biggest beneficiaries of legalized gambling in the Super Bowl is BetMGM. The major sportsbook recently opened its on-site location at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, where Super Bowl 57 will be played. This gives fans who attend the Super Bowl the ability to bet on site, something that can only happen in a state where sports betting is legal. The venue produced $2 million in revenue during the month of October, reports the Arizona Department of Gaming. Imagine the dollar amount possible with the Super Bowl unfolding right next to the sportsbook.

“The fact that it’s in Arizona means you’re probably going to see more interest in betting at some of these in-person facilities,” Zochodne said. “It’s those in-person venues that are going to have tourists coming through that might see an uptick in the amount of handle for the game.”

Since Arizona’s legalization of sports betting in 2021, the amount of sports bettors in the state per month has consistently increased. According to Arizona’s Department of Gaming, bettors in November of 2022 wagered nearly $617 million. Compared to the numbers in November 2021, this represents a 32.2% increase. However, big numbers in the gambling industry came from last February, which included money generated from Super Bowl 56. Sports betting has become a part of the game in Arizona, with more and more bettors month to month.

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“We, in February, actually had $491 million wagered in the state during the month of February, which would encompass the Super Bowl last year,” said Max Hartgraves, a public information officer at the Arizona Department of Gaming, “And I will say generally speaking, we’ve seen continued growth going into this year.”

With a combination of a growing sports betting community in Arizona along with the state hosting the big game, Arizona could be set to shatter betting revenue records for the weekend. On top of that, the state hosts its annual Waste Management Open at TPC Scottsdale, another major sporting event that takes place in the Valley during Super Bowl weekend. Sportsbooks across Maricopa County are hoping that these two big events will generate huge revenue throughout the entire weekend.

Since the legalization of sports betting, Arizona has already seen a large impact in its economy, receiving millions of dollars in revenue for the state. However, the opportunities for revenue in the state are even bigger throughout Super Bowl weekend. From the events leading up to the Super Bowl along with the flock of tourists coming to the game, this year’s Super Bowl could be record-breaking. With that increase in betting, the state is expected to also benefit from unprecedented revenue.

“It’s brought in millions of dollars to the state, and patrons are now able to enjoy it legally and have consumer protections,” Hartgraves said.“So I’m excited to see how the Super Bowl does impact our February figures here in the state.”

Generally, the NFL normally picks warm weather cities to host the Super Bowl. The last three Super Bowl cities – Miami, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles – all fall into this category. In 2024, the Super Bowl will move to Las Vegas, the gambling capital of the world. As the NFL decides host cities for future Super Bowls, could the legalization of sports gambling become a major factor in choosing which city hosts the Super Bowl?

“It really is just another indication that the NFL has gotten very comfortable with the legal gambling industry that it sees it not as part of the game, but it’s part of the culture around the game,” Zochodne said. “Depending on how things go in Las Vegas the following year, it could just be consideration of legal sports, it just isn’t considered at all anymore, that it’s just become something that is sort of secondary to the venue itself.”

The Super Bowl could possibly return to Arizona sooner than later. The last time State Farm Stadium hosted the Super Bowl was in 2015, only eight years ago, showing the NFL has strong connections and preferences to Arizona and the Valley. If the Super Bowls in Arizona and Las Vegas bring in greater revenue for the NFL, sports betting could become a major deciding factor in determining future host cities.

“I think the fact that Arizona has legal sports betting gives the NFL more comfort and having the games in a legal wagering jurisdiction,” Zochodne said. “I think if anything, it probably will depend on how it goes and maybe deliver more support, perhaps for (a) return to Arizona and in future years if everything goes smoothly.”

James Dalpino jayms dal-PEE-no
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

James Dalpino expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in communications. Dalpino has interned with Back Sports Page and the Pecos Independent Baseball League.