(Reuters) – Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the hometown Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals is expected to result in Nevada sportsbooks breaking the record for wagering on the National Football League’s championship game.
The Super Bowl typically creates a legal gambling frenzy in Nevada and the surge in betting activity at the state’s sports books late last year suggests Sunday’s game will top the record $158.6 million handle, or total amount of bets, set in 2018.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board said sportsbooks in the Western state recorded over $1 billion in wagers in three consecutive months from last October to December.
Prior to October, that threshold had never been reached and the Nevada Gaming Control Board sees no reason why bettors would shy away ahead of one of the year’s most anticipated games.
“The trend line is telling me you are going to set a record. The trend line isn’t telling me you are not going to,” Mike Lawton, senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Control Board told Reuters.
“We are recording numbers we’ve never seen before.”
The American Gaming Association said earlier this week a record 31.4 million Americans plan to bet a combined $7.6 billion on the Super Bowl, up 35% and 78% respectively, from last year.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have taken a bite out of Super Bowl bets last year that will be much less a factor this weekend as Nevada joined a growing list of U.S. states that have announced plans to loosen mask mandates.
“Having a team from Southern California playing in the Super Bowl is good for Las Vegas geographically because Southern California is our number one feeder market,” said Lawton.
“Plus, customers are healthy based on what we’ve seen this year as far as their savings and what they are willing to spend in terms of gaming and entertainment options.
“I would be surprised if we didn’t see a record on wagering.”
While billions will be wagered on the Super Bowl, only a portion of the funds will be devoted to the actual winner or on the game itself.
Aside from more traditional bets, gamblers can take a chance at proposition bets, like deciding which team will score first and what color liquid will be poured on the winning coach.
Among some of the more unique proposition bets are whether a player will propose to his girlfriend on the field after the game and whether Snoop Dogg will smoke on stage while performing at the Super Bowl halftime show with other hip-hop artists.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)