How Much Money is Bet on the Super Bowl

The most popular sport to bet on is the NFL, making the Super Bowl one of the most bet on individual events in all of sports each year. This was evident again this past year as the $158.6 million wagered on Super Bowl LII at Nevada sportsbooks was a new record, breaking the previous record of $138.5 million in Super Bowl LI just one year before.  The Nevada State Gaming Control Board releases their Super Bowl numbers around 24 hours after the game, at which point we will update our information.

Below is a table showing the total handle (amount) and profit reported by Nevada sportsbooks on each Super Bowl since 1991. Parentheses ( ) indicate a loss for that year.

Amount Legally Wagered on the Super Bowl Each Year

YEAR SUPER BOWL AMT WAGERED PROFIT RETURN WINNER LOSER
2018 LII $158,586,934 $1,170,432 0.7% Eagles Patriots
2017 LI $138,480,136 $10,937,826 7.90% Patriots Falcons
2016 50 $132,545,587 $13,314,539 10.10% Broncos Panthers
2015 XLIX $115,986,086 $3,261,066 2.80% Patriots Seahawks
2014 XLVIII $119,400,822 $19,673,960 16.50% Seahawks Broncos
2013 XLVII $98,936,798 $7,206,460 7.30% Ravens 49ers
2012 XLVI $93,899,840 $5,064,470 5.40% Giants Patriots
2011 XLV $87,491,098 $724,176 0.83% Packers Steelers
2010 XLIV $82,726,367 $6,857,101 8.29% Saints Colts
2009 XLIII $81,514,748 $6,678,044 8.19% Steelers Cardinals
2008 XLII $92,055,833 ($2,573,103) -2.80% Giants Patriots
2007 XLI $93,067,358 $12,930,175 13.89% Colts Bears
2006 XL $94,534,372 $8,828,431 9.34% Steelers Seahawks
2005 XXXIX $90,759,236 $15,430,138 17.00% Patriots Eagles
2004 XXXVIII $81,242,191 $12,440,698 15.31% Patriots Panthers
2003 XXXVII $71,693,032 $5,264,963 7.34% Bucs Raiders
2002 XXXVI $71,513,304 $2,331,607 3.26% Patriots Rams
2001 XXXV $67,661,425 $11,002,636 16.26% Ravens Giants
2000 XXXIV $71,046,751 $4,237,978 5.97% Rams Titans
1999 XXXIII $75,986,520 $2,906,601 3.83% Broncos Falcons
1998 XXXII $77,253,246 $472,033 0.61% Broncos Packers
1997 XXXI $70,853,211 $2,265,701 3.20% Packers Patriots
1996 XXX $70,907,801 $7,126,145 10.05% Cowboys Steelers
1995 XXIX $69,591,818 ($396,674) -0.57% 49ers Chargers
1994 XXVIII $54,483,221 $7,481,541 13.73% Cowboys Bills
1993 XXVII $56,811,405 $7,174,869 12.63% Cowboys Bills
1992 XXVI $50,334,277 $301,280 0.60% Redskins Bills
1991 XXV $40,080,409 $3,512,241 8.76% Giants Bills

The House Always Wins (In the Long Run)

Sports books have made out extremely well when it comes to the Super Bowl.  A big reason why is that square bettors (those that don’t usually bet) are attracted to the big game and they are prone to making high-risk bets like parlays and props that are unlikely to win.  There have been just two cases since 1991 when books have produced a net loss on the Super Bowl – 1995 and 2008.

In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers were the biggest favorites in Super Bowl history (18 points), but that didn’t detract bettors from loading up on the obviously better team, as well as the over.  The Niners covered and the total went well over the 53.5 mark (San Fran won 49-26, a 23-point victory with 75 points scored).

The 2008 Super Bowl played out much differently.  The New England Patriots were 14-point favorites against the New York Giants.  For this game the public did something it rarely does – it bet overwhelmingly on the underdog.  Not only did the Giants cover the spread, they won the game outright, meaning a disaster for sportsbooks that had to payout moneyline bets on New York at nearly 10-to-1 as well.

How Much is Bet Illegally on the Super Bowl

Each year there is a new study or estimate by an expert on how much is wagered offshore at online sportsbooks, or with local bookies, or between friends.  Some of these estimates include office pools and international wagers taken legally, some do not.

There is no way to know for sure, but the most common educated guess (from the American Gaming Association) says that roughly 97% of all bets placed on the Super Bowl will be made in a technically illegal fashion.  Using the latest numbers on the amount of legal action taken in Nevada ($158,586,934), the estimated illegal portion of the handle would come in at $5,286,231,133 (about $5.3 billion).  If it follows that the expected return on illegal wagers matches that of legal wagers, using last year’s return of 0.7%, black market wagering accounted for $37,972,978 in profits last year.

Grand Total Wagered on the Most Recent Super Bowl (Estimate):  $5.42 Billion

Combined Legal/Illegal Sportsbook Profits (Estimate):  $39.14 Million

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