As NFL Season Begins, Look For Virginia Sports Bets To Surge

Written By Russ Mitchell on September 7, 2022
Virginia Sports Bets

The American Gaming Association (AGA) expects a 3% nationwide increase in NFL bets, but the gains could be much higher in the commonwealth since Virginia sports bets are still relatively new.

The AGA released its projections on the eve of the Thursday night NFL opener between the Buffalo Bills and the LA Rams. The Washington Commanders host the Jacksonville Jaguars at 1 p.m. Sunday.

With permanent Virginia casinos still under construction, sports bets and Virginia Lottery games are the most accessible gaming options in the state for now.

The state launched legal sports betting on Jan. 21, 2021. Here’s a look at how much the sports industry has grown since its debut:

Virginia sports bets increase

Month2021 (in millions)2022 (in millions)Increase
January$58.9 (11-day total)$485.5724%

Virginia is heading into its second fall season of football betting. Here’s what the pace looked like for Virginia sports wagers in its inaugural year:

  • Aug. 2021 — $182.4 million
  • Sept. 2021 — $293.9 million
  • Oct. 2021 — $427.3 million
  • Nov. 2021 — $402.6 million
  • Dec. 2021 — $426.6 million

As the numbers suggest, Virginia bets are ready to hit a seasonal peak.

AGA expects 46.6 million Americans to bet on NFL

Morning Consult conducted an online poll of 2,210 American adults between Aug. 25-27 to create the AGA’s NFL betting forecast.

“The sustained interest in NFL wagering reflects the growth and continued maturation of legal sports betting across the country,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said. “Consumers clearly want legal sports betting options.”

  • At 9%, the Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the most common betting choices to win Super Bowl LVII among NFL fans.
  • The Rams and Kansas City Chiefs come in at 8%.
  • The Dallas Cowboys round out the top five at 7%.

Arizona hosts Super Bowl LVII. It marks the first time the game is played in a state with legal sports betting.

Other American Gaming Association findings include:

  • More than half of American adults can place a sports bet in their home state.
  • Virginia adults are among the 132 million Americans who can bet on sports without leaving their state.
  • Online sports betting is growing fast: 23 million will place an NFL bet online this season. That’s up 18% from 2021.
  • In-person bets are available at Bristol Casino — Temporary Home of Hard Rock. The AGA says 6 million will place a bet in-person at a sportsbook this season, up 2% from 2021.
  • Sports betting is currently legal in 36 states and Washington, D.C. Operators in four of the states are still working on the logistics of going live.
  • The NFL has franchises in 22 states and 18 of the states have legalized sports betting.

Responsible gaming is important

The findings came out ahead of the NFL season. But, the kickoffs coincide with Responsible Gaming Education Month as well.

NFL team partners including Washington Commanders back the AGA’s “Have a game plan, bet responsibly” campaign to promote responsible gaming.

AGA trends suggest bettors are moving away from bookies. Legal betting alternatives help the cause. A year ago, about 15% of bets were placed with bookies. This year, 13% of survey respondents said they’d still place sports bets under the table.

The AGA thinks the message of responsible gaming is getting a foothold around the country. The polling firm Kentar helped with the Aug. 17-23 responses:

  • 90% recall seeing or hearing about responsible gaming in the past year.
  • 51% saw or heard more responsible gaming information in the past 12 months than they had in previous years.
  • 82% of past-year sports bettors told the AGA that responsible gaming programs are very or somewhat effective.
  • And 81% told the AGA they think the gaming industry is committed to encouraging responsible gaming and combatting problem gambling.
Photo by Nick Wass / AP
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Russ Mitchell

Russ Mitchell covered news and sports in Iowa since 1997, including 11 years as managing editor for one of the most decorated community newspapers in the state. He joined PlayIA as a lead writer and managing editor in 2021. He anxious to explore the growing Virginia gaming industry.

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