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Super Bowl weekend is upon us, and anticipation is soaring as the Kansas City Chiefs gear up to face off against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday 11 February.

Here are four things the gambling and betting industry should expect from this year’s Super Bowl:

1. Record betting activity

This year’s Super Bowl is poised to shatter previous records in betting activity.

Approximately 68 million American adults, representing about one-fourth of the population, are expected to place bets, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).

The total amount wagered is projected to reach $23.1bn, marking a significant increase from last year’s $16bn.

Regulated outlets are expected to handle around $1.5bn of this total, based on consensus estimates from multiple sources, the group noted.

Research firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming (EKG) predicts legal betting handle of $1.25bn, making the Super Bowl out as the US sports betting industry’s single-largest betting event every year, alone accounting for nearly 1% of the industry’s total annual handle.

“We did not project revenue given the inherent volatility; however, we note that, for sports betting operators, making money is not necessarily the core aim of the game.

“Rather—and per operator channel checks— the Super Bowl is mainly an opportunity to acquire casual customers who can be cross-sold or reactivated next NFL season.”

Nonetheless, the firm added: “A bad Super Bowl (something like a Chiefs win, Christian McCaffrey, Travis Kelce and Deebo Samuel all scoring TDs and Pat Mahomes going over his props) could wipe out a couple of months of profits.”

2. In-play and same-game parlays

In-play betting and same-game parlays are expected to play a significant role in this year’s Super Bowl wagering.

EKG predicts that around 10% to 15% of the online handle will come from in-play bets.

“That mark is below broader industry averages (FanDuel, for example, has previously disclosed that around 44% of its total handle comes from in-play),” EKG said.

“However, on in-play, football skews lower—and the Super Bowl skews even lower still due to the high number of recreational customers who overwhelmingly favour pre-match betting.”

In addition, EKG estimates that between 20% and 25% of Super Bowl online handle will be bet via same-game parlays.

3. The biggest markets

With sports betting legal in 38 US states, the Super Bowl draws bets from across the nation.

Nevada is expected to lead the way with 13% of the nationwide betting handle, thanks to its status as the host state and its tourism-driven sports betting market.

New York at 12% and New Jersey at 10% are also projected to see significant betting activity, capturing the second and third-largest shares of the handle, respectively.

4. More betting options than ever

The Super Bowl isn’t just about the game anymore; it’s also about the entertainment surrounding it.

This year is all about Taylor Swift.

Swift, whose regular appearances at Kansas City games began when she officially started dating Kansas City Chiefs’ Travis Kelce in September 2023, has presented new challenges for bookmakers.

Firms now have to come up with odds for questions such as: What sort of outfit will Taylor Swift wear to the game on Sunday? What colour lipstick will she wear? Will she cry if the Kansas City Chiefs lose to the San Francisco 49ers?

The New York Times quoted Tim Williams, director of public affairs for Bet US: “If it’s something that’s going to attract some attention and we can make legitimate odds on it, there’s a good chance that we’re going to do it.”

However, another bookmaker clarified: “It’s more for fun. We’re not trying to make a buck off this. Honestly, we’ll probably lose on a lot of these because it’s a real challenge for us to keep up with this stuff. Like, I don’t know what colour lipstick she’ll wear.”

Meanwhile, Flutter Entertainment revealed how difficult this really is. In a news release on the Super Bowl, the operator highlighted that accurate bookmaking is not so much about picking winners, but more about calculating the different probabilities of any imaginable outcome becoming reality.

“Our aim is to get the right price, the true probability of what may happen,” said Keith Goldner, FanDuel’s vice president of data science, sports modelling and innovation.

To get the prices right, “we also need to quantify how much we don’t know in order to calculate better probabilities.”

5. The halftime show

While not directly related to sports, the halftime show is always a highlight of the Super Bowl spectacle.

This year, Usher will take the stage, following in the footsteps of past legends like Beyoncé and Prince.

However, the halftime show hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Remember the infamous “Nipplegate” incident involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake in 2004?

So, this year, Usher will take to the stage, and yes, of course, there are plenty of Usher odds too. The big question that BetMGM has posed to the bettors is: What will Usher’s first song be?

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