NFL, Media Hype Could Stoke More Sports Betting Legalization


Posted on: January 31, 2024, 04:46h. 

Last updated on: January 31, 2024, 05:06h.

The ongoing devotion of bettors and fans to the NFL, and increased media attention could be among the factors that propel more legalization of sports wagering in the US.

Las Vegas Super Bowl casino hotel rooms
Allegiant Stadium hosts Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. An analyst believes the game and NFL popularity, in general, could support broader legalization of sports betting. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

That’s the take of Macquarie analyst Chad Beynon who, in a new report to clients, said the upcoming Super Bowl in Las Vegas could be another driver of broader legalization in the US. Currently, 38 states and Washington, DC permit sports wagering, but not all of those allow mobile betting.

NFL ratings are stronger than ever and the legalization of sports betting has likely been a major contributor to this success,” wrote Beynon. “With Super Bowl LVIII (Feb 11) being played in Las Vegas, we expect even more light to be shined on the sports and sports betting industries.”

As has been the case in recent years, highly anticipated Super Bowl commercials are expected to include some spots from sportsbook operators, which put more eyeballs on the activity. On the other hand, some industry observers are worried about the potential impact of a “60 Minutes” report on sports betting scheduled to air this Sunday. There’s speculation the segment will paint sports wagering in an unfavorable light.

“We think increased media attention, including increased ESPN BET advertising, could ultimately lead to further interest/legalization over the next couple of years,” added Beynon.

2024 Legislative Outlook

As Beynon notes, the current regulated sports betting landscape in the US means just half of wagering adults have access to mobile betting.

For various reasons, live and legal states such as Arkansas, Mississippi, North and South Dakota, and Washington don’t permit mobile betting. In Washington, DC, there’s just one online sportsbook, and access to it is forbidden in federal buildings.

Then there’s the point that, much to the chagrin of the industry, neither California nor Texas appear close to legalizing sports betting. For the industry at large, and investors, Texas joining the legal camp would be more material because the state would allow commercial operators to obtain sports wagering licenses, something California Tribal entities and many voters oppose.

Today, there’s pending sports betting legislation in just four states – Georgia, Hawaii, Missouri, and Oklahoma. Of that quartet, Georgia appears to be the most likely to potentially approve mobile sports betting this year while Hawaii is the long shot of the group.

Flutter NYSE Listing Could Help, Too

Another catalyst for broadening the reach of sports wagering in the US is the recent listing of FanDuel parent Flutter Entertainment (NYSE: FLUT) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), according to Beynon.

That long-predicted move occurred on Monday, immediately making Flutter the second-largest gaming company by market value trading in the US behind only Las Vegas Sands (NYSE: LVS).

It’s possible that as more institutional investors embrace Flutter, and as the shares potentially join widely followed domestic equity gauges, the ensuing attention could positively impact the legalization front.

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