Super Bowl

Half of All Americans Will Bet on Sunday's Super Bowl

Kyle Zedaker | USA TODAY Sports | Reuters
  • Half of Americans are betting on Sunday's big game, one survey finds.
  • Yet, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, they will wager $4.3 billion altogether, a 37% decline from last year.

Getting into the Super Bowl spirit usually entails some sort of wager. This year, however, gambling on the big game looks a lot different than it has in the past.

Altogether, more than half of Americans said they'll bet on this Sunday's Super Bowl LV, according to a report from LendingTree.

Despite widespread job losses, which have curtailed discretionary spending, 43% of bettors will wager at least $100, the report found. Millennials and Generation X were the most likely to place big bets, even though they have also been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, when broken down by generation. 

Still, far fewer people are willing to gamble on this year's big game compared with last year.

Overall, just more than 23 million Americans will wager on the matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 3 million fewer than a year ago, according to a separate report by the American Gaming Association.

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All in, Americans will bet roughly $4.3 billion, a whopping 37% decline from 2020, the association found.

Most of those bets will be placed casually between family or friends, with fewer people betting at a sportsbook, through a bookie or in an office pool.

Amy Bonner, 48, an administrative assistant at consulting firm Cowden Associates in Pittsburgh, said her office is trying a virtual pool for the first time. "We had a lot of fun pre-pandemic," she said. "Since then, we've tried to come up with different ideas to build that camaraderie while we are working remotely."

At her office, there is no cost to join and winners at the half and at the end will receive gift cards. "We wanted to keep our tradition going but thought it would be too challenging trying to exchange money as we've done in the past."

Lynn Olanoff, 39, said her co-workers are continuing the annual tradition but also making it virtual this year.

The marketing specialist at accounting firm Concannon, Miller & Co. in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, paid $15 via Venmo to join the online office pool with half of the proceeds donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. 

Overall, online betting is getting a major boost from the Covid crisis, the American Gaming Association found, with a record 7.6 million Americans potentially placing wagers on Sunday's big game through a website or mobile app — a 63% jump year over year.

In addition, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting, with 13 more states poised to open legal markets in the coming months.

"This year's Super Bowl is expected to generate the largest single-event legal handle in American sports betting history," Bill Miller, the association's president and CEO, said in a statement.

"With a robust legal market, Americans are abandoning illegal bookies and taking their action into the regulated marketplace in record numbers."

Those who win big on Sunday's NFL championship game will have to report that income on their 2021 taxes. Of course, more people lose big than win big.

If you itemize your deductions, you can ease some of the pain of a loss by offsetting the tax on other gambling winnings to reduce the total liability. (As a rule, you can only offset winnings, not claim losses beyond that point.) 

However fewer people itemize as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, so for most Super Bowl fans, a loss without the potential write-off will sting even more than seeing your team come up short.

LendingTree polled more than 1,000 adults between Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. The American Gaming Association surveyed nearly 2,200 adults over the same time period. 

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