After the conclusion of the first week of the 2023 NFL season, Kambi has revealed data around betting activity on the event, presented in partnership with iGaming NEXT.

The 2023 season began on 7 September and will end on 7 January 2024. Week one of this year’s tournament saw 16 games take place across the US.

Kambi said it had significantly improved its selection of live player props and live same game parlay (SGP) capabilities ahead of the new season, helping boost the amount of SGPs as a proportion of live bets to 9%, and the proportion of player props to 14%, in the tournament’s first week.

Most popular games by turnover

Kambi has ranked the first week’s most popular games, teams and players by the amount of betting turnover generated on each.

The most popular game by betting turnover was between 2022 Super Bowl champions the Kansas City Chiefs and the Detroit Lions on 8 September, which saw the Lions edge a surprise victory by 21-20.

Second most popular was the New York Jets vs. Buffalo Bills on 12 September, which saw the two New York State-based teams battle it out in a match that eventually saw the Jets emerge victorious at 22-16.

Third was the New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys match on 11 September, in which the Cowboys destroyed the Giants 40-0 in what has since been described as a “horrible loss” for the team, “among the worst season openers in NFL history”.

Last year’s Super Bowl finalists the Philadelphia Eagles took on the New England Patriots on 10 September, in the fourth most popular game by betting turnover, which the Eagles won 25-20.

Fifth was the Chicago Bears vs. Green Bay Packers, also on 10 September, in which the Packers emerged victorious at 38-20.

Most popular players and teams

The most popular player by betting turnover was Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has played for the team since 2017. 

Mahomes has twice been named the NFL MVP and was also the Super Bowl MVP in last year’s final.

The second most popular player by turnover was Kansas City Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco, followed by 21-year old Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs in third.

The fourth and fifth most popular players by turnover were Lions quarterback Jared Goff and Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Pollard, respectively.

The five most popular teams by betting turnover were the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, in that order.

Most popular bet types 

In terms of pre-game bets, the most popular bet type after moneyline, spread and total points were touchdown scorer bets, which attracted some 16% of pre-match turnover.

In second and third places, bets on the total receiving yards by the player and total rushing yards by the player attracted 12% and 11% of pre-match turnover, respectively.

Spread bets on the first half were the fourth most popular bet type, attracting 9% of pre-match turnover, with bets on total passing yards by the player attracting 6% of turnover in fifth place.

As for live betting, the most popular bet type after moneyline, spread and total points bets were on the team to gain a first touchdown, which attracted 13% of all in-play turnover.

Bets on quarter spread and first half spread each attracted 8% of live turnover in second and third place.

In fourth and fifth, bets on the result of team drives and quarter total points each attracted 7% of live turnover.

Regarding individual player props, the most popular bets in that category were on touchdown scorer, which attracted 24% of all player props revenue.

Bets on the total receiving yards by the player and total rushing yards by the player attracted 19% and 17% of player props revenue, respectively.

In at fourth and fifth were bets on total passing yards by the player and total receptions by the player, which attracted 10% and 6% of player props revenue, respectively.

Bet builders

The most popular bet builder selections, both pre-match and live, featured combinations of spreads, total points, touchdown scorers, moneylines, and total rushing or receiving yards by the player.

Other popular bet builder elements included total passing yards by the player, total touchdown passes thrown by the player, total receptions by the player, and bets on points and spreads in the second half of games.

MGM Resorts International and BetMGM are launching a new responsible gambling campaign across nine NFL stadiums in the US.

Stadium integration

The campaign will see the casino operator and its online joint venture with Entain promote the GameSense responsible gambling programme at the home stadiums of several major NFL teams including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos and New York Jets.

MGM said it is therefore among the first US operators to promote responsible gambling through marketing within NFL venues.

The campaign will take place during the upcoming American football season, which is due to begin next week on 8 September.

In addition, MGM Resorts and BetMGM are together committing more than $1m annually to fund a variety of responsible gambling and problem gambling initiatives, including in the areas of research, advocacy, prevention, marketing and organisational support.

GameSense background

The GameSense responsible gambling programme was first developed and licensed to MGM Resorts by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation in 2017.

The programme “focuses on positive, transparent, and proactive conversations with guests and customers about how to gamble responsibly,” MGM said.

GameSense messaging is currently being delivered to guests on TV screens in MGM Resorts hotel rooms across the US, as well as on slot machines on MGM casino floors.

The programme is also integrated into BetMGM’s online platforms and sports betting kiosks.

Management commentary

“This is an extraordinary moment as we work with our team partners to raise awareness about responsible gaming,” said BetMGM chief compliance officer Rhea Loney.

“Throughout the season, GameSense will play a pivotal role in reminding football fans who bet, to do so responsibly.”

Stephen Martino, SVP and chief compliance officer of MGM Resorts, added: “The landscape of the gaming industry has evolved dramatically in recent years with the broad legalisation of online gambling and sports betting. 

“Collaboration among operators and stakeholders is essential to ensure that responsible gaming remains a top priority.

“These efforts are vital to giving guests, customers, employees, and companies the tools and information needed for a safe and enjoyable experience.”

American Gaming Association SVP Casey Clarke added: “The AGA is proud to work alongside leaders like MGM Resorts and BetMGM to advance responsible gaming every day. 

“Their continued investment to elevate responsibility exemplifies the industry’s commitments and the spirit of Responsible Gaming Education Month.”

NFL gives slots a spin

This week CNBC put out a report on a curious development in the US, as Aristocrat Gaming unveiled its first ever NFL-themed slot machines.

The American football-themed reels are due to hit casino floors when the NFL season kicks off this September.

The new slots are “symbolic of a major reversal for the NFL,” CNBC points out, “from its vehement opposition to legalised sports betting prior to the 2018 Supreme Court decision, which paved the way for states to adopt sports wagering, to partnering with the AGA on responsible gambling initiatives.”

The NFL itself put a more positive spin on the new products, with its SVP of consumer products Joe Ruggiero suggesting “the unveiling of the first NFL-themed slot machines represents an opportunity to bring the League closer to our fans in a new area.”

Aristocrat Gaming was equally optimistic about the development, as CEO Hector Fernandez said: “I truly believe that this could be an industry changing event for slot machines and for casinos themselves … pushing the boundaries, driving innovation to something that really has never been done before.”

The slots will feature customisable skins, allowing players to choose their favorite team, and the game will then load relevant imagery, videos of key game moments and even stadium anthems.

Fernandez suggested that the machines will encourage younger men to give slots a go, helping bring them into a vertical currently dominated by older, female demographics.

When you think of the crossover between sports and casino gambling, is this what springs to mind?

Goodbye, Twitter

Elon Musk hit the headlines once again this week as he unceremoniously dropped Twitter’s existing branding and logo in favour of a minimalist new brand, X.

The change occurred suddenly and without warning, which The Conversation suggested was in keeping with Musk’s movements since taking over the social media giant last year.

“Such drastic changes are usually accompanied by presentations delving into rebrand reasoning from company execs desperate to show how the new image aligns with organisational strategy and company vision,” said the article in its assessment of the rebrand.

Musk’s sudden dropping of the much-loved blue bird is “in keeping with Twitter’s disruptive nature of late,” the article suggests, as the social media network has undergone a series of rapid transformations since it was overtaken by Tesla boss Musk.

The rebrand apparently aligns with Musk’s plans to develop Twitter (sorry, X) into an “everything app”, offering users much more than the ability to simply communicate.

Taking inspiration from China’s WeChat, Musk wants to turn X into a central component of users’ daily lives, facilitating financial transactions, written, audio, and video content, and more.

“But of course, one of the biggest risks of changing a brand identity from one that has global recognition, recall and awareness, is that users may not like the change,” The Conversation suggested. 

“By removing the Twitter brand there is an immediate loss of brand equity – the positive associations consumers have with the brand – which could ultimately encourage people to move to other platforms.”

If the conversation on X this week has been anything to go by, plenty of users have already been “encouraged” to jump ship from the platform.

How do you solve a problem like affordability?

The Racing Post this week offered up a response to the UK government’s Gambling Act review, with one commentator suggesting “I don’t think they truly understand a lot of betting.”

The article focuses closely on the introduction of so-called affordability checks, described as “background checks taking place at a trigger of £125 net loss within a month or £500 within a year.”

A higher tier of enhanced checks has also been proposed for customers crossing thresholds of a £1,000 net loss within 24 hours or £2,000 within 90 days. 

Under more detailed proposals set out in the Gambling Commission’s consultations on the matter, however, “anyone triggering checks at that second tier could be forced to undergo an enhanced check into their finances as often as twice a year,” the piece suggested.

Added to that, it explains, “for the purposes of calculating a net loss, it is proposed that any money won more than seven days ago for those at the £1,000 threshold, and 90 days ago at the £2,000 threshold, would be ignored, meaning that some could be made to prove they could afford their gambling, despite being in profit.”

The piece goes on to set out a number of different example customers, whose gambling activity either would or would not lead to enhanced financial checks being carried out.

The examples point out certain oddities in the way checks would be carried out under the proposals due to the time limits applied to what winnings can be considered, when assessing who needs to undergo checks and who doesn’t.

The piece also suggests that the checks may have the opposite of their intended impact.

“If you are truly trying to get people to gamble in a more responsible way, if I win some money on the first of the month and by the ninth of the month that money doesn’t count any more as my winnings, isn’t that encouraging me to punt through my money quicker, rather than when I actually fancy something?” asked professional gambler Neil Channing.

“’I’d better have a bet because otherwise it won’t count’. That feels totally counter-productive to what they are trying to achieve,” he concluded.

The Gambling Commission’s consultations on the matter are far from over, but the topic of affordability checks continues to be a sticking point for many in the UK gambling market.

Geolocation specialist GeoComply recorded more than 100 million online betting transactions over the latest Super Bowl weekend, an increase of 25% on last year’s figures.

The company completed the geolocation checks across 23 states and the District of Columbia, where online sports wagering is regulated.

The firm also helped register 7.4 million new betting accounts over the weekend, an increase of 32% year-on-year.

More than 100,000 geolocation checks from over 8,000 sportsbook accounts were made in and around State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, where the Super Bowl took place.

“Super Bowl LVII was a record-breaking event,” said GeoComply co-founder and CEO Anna Sainsbury. 

“GeoComply data reveals that Americans’ interest in legally betting on the Super Bowl has never been higher. It also showed that many fans at State Farm Stadium embraced their newfound ability to bet while watching the game in person.”

Both the venue and the home regions of the two participating teams had a positive effect on betting activity in their respective states, GeoComply said.

GeoComply co-founder and CEO Anna Sainsbury: “Super Bowl LVII was a record-breaking event. GeoComply data reveals that Americans’ interest in legally betting on the Super Bowl has never been higher.”

Online sports betting is legal in Arizona, where the game took place, while “huge swaths of Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs fans hail from legal sports betting strongholds,” GeoComply said.

The firm pointed out however, that while it recorded 2.2 million sports betting geolocation transactions in Kansas, many Kansas City Chiefs fans are located in Missouri, where sports betting is still not legal.

Some 250,000 attempts to bet from Missouri with operators in regulated states were blocked by GeoComply over the weekend.

The highest volume of bets on a state-by-state basis took place in New York, where some 13.8 million geolocation checks took place over the weekend.

Ohio boasted 12.6 million checks while Philadelphia saw 11.8 million.

The firm said it also spotted and blocked more than 140,000 fraud attempts over the weekend, as the Super Bowl saw an increased number of cyber criminals try to take advantage of customers through account takeovers, ID theft and other financial fraud.

“It’s no secret that online fraud is a growing concern across all forms of e-commerce,” commented Sainsbury. 

“Online sports betting may be a target for fraud, but because every bettor must verify their location, the industry has the data to stop it before it starts. GeoComply is proud to be a cyber security asset to the industry.”

Sainsbury continued: “GeoComply’s unprecedented transaction figures from this Super Bowl weekend reflect the growth of legal online sports betting. This tightly regulated industry emphasises consumer protection, transparency, and accountability. 

“Every state that regulates sports betting is a blow to the predatory black market that operates in the shadows, providing zero safeguards for bettors and no economic benefit to the local community.”

American Gaming Association predictions released last week suggested that some 50.4m Americans – or 20% of the adult population – would place a bet on the Super Bowl.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, meanwhile, projected that around $1.06bn in wagers would be placed through regulated sportsbooks, accounting for nearly 1% of all regulated US sports betting handle annually.

DraftKings has been selected as the sponsor and exclusive pre-game and in-play odds provider of Thursday Night Football (TNF) on Amazon’s Prime Video.

The multi-year collaboration, which begins this week on 15 September, will see DraftKings deliver pre-game content and unique betting offers every Thursday throughout the NFL season.

As part of the agreement, TNF will also feature DraftKings integrations in the live pre-game, including odds and additional sports betting insights, while the firms will collaborate on TNF-themed offerings including same-game parlays, made available on the DraftKings Sportsbook app.

“The NFL season is the most active time of year for our customers, so collaborating with one of the world’s leading technology brands in order to offer engaging content to viewers of TNF on Prime Video is a tremendous opportunity for DraftKings,” said DraftKings CMO Stephanie Sherman. 

“Prime Video is an innovator in live content and we both have a similar focus on constantly improving our customers’ experiences. We look forward to working with Amazon to bring millions of viewers a premium and enhanced experience during TNF on Prime Video all season long and for years to come,” Sherman concluded.

DraftKings CMO Stephanie Sherman: “The NFL season is the most active time of year for our customers, so collaborating with one of the world’s leading technology brands in order to offer engaging content to viewers of TNF on Prime Video is a tremendous opportunity for DraftKings.”

Danielle Carney, head of NFL sales at Amazon Ads, added: “We are thrilled to collaborate with DraftKings to bring fans more insights and excitement as part of the TNF viewing experience.

“DraftKings content will contribute to lively pregame discussions, fan engagement and, perhaps, some bold predictions from our on-air talent.”

This deal marks DraftKings’ latest sporting event sponsorship. The operator already holds partnership deals with MLB and the NBA, as well as with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and more niche sporting events such as the Drone Racing League and Professional Fighters League.

While it is widely accepted that DraftKings’ investment in marketing and customer acquisition has been exceptionally high, in August the firm revealed that it had beaten its Q2 earnings forecasts, generating $466m in quarterly revenue and a narrowing loss per share of $0.29, its lowest quarterly EPS loss in over a year.