Montana sets state sports gambling record with $700K on 2022 Super Bowl

More than 25,000 bets were placed on the Super Bowl

By: - February 15, 2022 4:59 pm

Montanans bet a record amount in the 2022 Super Bowl. (By Jeshoots via Pexels.com.)

Nearly $700,000 was bet in Montana on Sunday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams — a 41% increase from last year — marking the highest amount bet on a single game since the launch of sports betting in March of 2020.

According to data from the Montana Lottery, 25,383 people placed bets totaling $695,837 on the big game through Sports Bet Montana.  The average bet was $23.95. And bettors in the state were not able to outsmart the book, with the state only paying out $427,867 — netting it $267,971.

Map of states with legalized sports betting. (Courtesy of the American Gaming Association.)

“We attribute this increase mostly to greater visibility and in turn, greater awareness of the product line,” said Daniel Iverson, communications manager with the Montana Lottery. “The Super Bowl draws extra attention, but football betting has increased 51 percent from last season to this season even without including the Super Bowl. So interest and participation are up across the board.”

Montana offered a variety of bets through two different channels — regular and special offer bets — with $589,682 placed on regular bets and $106,155 placed on special bets. And bettors in Montana heavily favored the Rams to win, betting $76,000 on the team and only $18,500 on the Bengals winning, according to data from the Montana Lottery.

The Rams defeated the Bengals 23-20, so bettors who put money on the Rams taking the trophy won — but those who bet on Los Angeles to win by more than 4.5 points lost.

Player props: whether an individual player will or will not achieve a certain statistic, like 100 yards rushing.

Point spread: the margin of victory in a game, which means a team must win or lose by a specific number of points.

Over/Under: whether the outcome of a game will be above or below a certain number of points.

Money line: a bet on a specific team to win a game, by choosing either the favorite or the underdog. With this bet, the margin of victory does not matter.

Breakdown of regular bets:

  • $218,182 (37%) on player props
  • $141,523 (24%) on the point spread
  • $123,833 (21%) on the over/under
  • $106,142 (18%) on the money line

The Montana lottery did not have a breakdown of the special bets.

All lottery revenue, including profits from sports betting, is rolled together and transferred back to the state. In 2020, the Montana Lottery transferred $500,000 to the Montana STEM scholarship program and $8.6 million to the general fund. While the 2021 financial report has not been produced yet, Montana Code Annotated dictates the lottery to contribute $1 million to the Montana STEM scholarship program from 2021 earnings, with additional revenue going to the general fund.

After the 2021 Super Bowl, the state reported $493,075 the lowest amount of any state with legal sports gambling at the time — from 17,793 placed bets and paid out $477,895, a payday of only $15,180 for the state.

The large increase in money wagered on the Super Bowl this year and the betting totals recorded in 2021 indicate that the industry is picking up in Montana.

In 2021, an average of $3.8 million was bet each month and the total amount of money bet increased by $28 million, or 150% compared to 2020. And data from the Montana Lottery showed the state was off to a strong start in 2022 with $5.11 million worth of bets placed in January, one of the highest monthly totals recorded.

Prior to the Super Bowl, the American Gaming Association estimated that a record 31.4 million Americans would wager more than $7 billion on this year’s Super Bowl, a $3.33 billion increase from last year. But only around $1 billion is expected to be generated from legal sports betting, with the rest coming from illegal offshore sportsbooks or casual bets with friends, David Forman, head of research at the association, told the Daily Montanan.

Research from the association indicated that 12.9 million people planned to place a bet online this year, a 70% increase from 2021. And 4.7 million people planned to place a bet in person at a sportsbook, up 231% from 2021.

Data from eight states, including Montana, that have reported how much was wagered on the Super Bowl shows $405 million worth of bets so far, with Montana reporting the lowest amount wagered and Nevada recording a record high amount of $179 million.

Last year, only around $500 million of legal bets were wagered on the Super Bowl, but Forman said rapid growth within the industry will lead to record numbers this year.

“With the expansion to 10 more states in the last year and more people being aware of the legal options, we’re certain that a record number of people legally bet a record amount this year,” he said.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized sports gambling, but Montana is unique in that its sports betting operation is run exclusively through the state government and prohibits operations from companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. And in the absence of that competition, Montana frequently collects less money compared to open-market states.

After launching in March 2020, Montana Sports Book has collected just under $10 million in revenue off of around $70 million worth of placed bets, according to state data.

Data from neighboring Wyoming shows Montana is trailing in bringing in bets and revenue. Within months of Wyoming’s launch, the state saw $28 million in bets and $3 million in revenue. Even more dramatically, New York and its population of 19 million saw $2 billion worth of bets within 30 days of launching mobile sports betting. Both states have an open market and mobile gambling.

And Montana is one of nine states to require consumers to bet in person, which limits the state’s sports gambling potential, Forman said.

“States with those kinds of restrictions lag a bit compared to states where you are able to bet online from their home. Eighty-five percent of legal sports bets are placed online or through a mobile device. Meeting consumers where they are is key to growing the legal market and getting people away from the illegal unregulated offshore sportsbooks,” he said.

For help with a gambling addiction call the National Problem Gambling Helpline Network at 1-800-522-4700

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Keith Schubert
Keith Schubert

Keith Schubert is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. Keith was born and raised in Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2019. He has worked at the St.Paul Pioneer Press, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and most recently, the Asbury Park Press, covering everything from local craft fairs to crime and courts to municipal government to the Minnesota state legislature. In his free time, he enjoys cheering on Wisconsin sports teams and exploring small businesses. He can be reached by text or call at 406-475-2954 .

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