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This Super Bowl is the first with legal gambling in seven states not named 'Nevada'

Millions of Americans on Sunday will get their first chance to wager, legally, on the big game.
Image: Sports betting
Ryan Martin, right, looks over his wager at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Dec. 13, 2018.Keith Srakocic / AP file

This year's Super Bowl is the first where sports gambling is legal in seven states other than Nevada.

With the kickoff of legalized sports betting in these new states, still others that are considering taking the same step are sure to keep tabs on Sunday's championship game in Atlanta — and an even closer eye on the numbers trickling out starting Monday.

The seven states that now have their first above-board sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted prohibitions are: Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

Some of them will likely know Monday how much gamblers bet on the biggest annual event in American sports.

That Monday-morning accounting could go a long way toward assessing America's appetite for more gambling.

“You're going to have expectations — some realistic, some not," said David Schwartz, director of the Center of Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. "The realistic expectation is this: This is going to be a number, a number that reflects your infrastructure and the player base that exists now."

Sara Slane, senior vice president of an industry group, the American Gaming Association, predicted there could be as many as 20 states with legal sports betting by this time in 2020.

Arkansas, Oregon, New York and the District of Columbia all appear to be moving forward to have sports betting in their jurisdictions in 2019, according to the advocacy group.

"This is no longer an era of competition among the casinos operators. It’s a competition between the states," Slane said. "They want to keep the money in their state. They have a little fomo," fear of missing out.

Even with the new states where sports betting is legal, an overwhelming majority of Americans lack a nearby sportsbook for legally placing Super Bowl bets.

Slane's group commissioned pollsters with Morning Consult and found that 22.7 million of American adults plan to wager $6 billion, legally or illegally, on the Los Angeles Rams or New England Patriots or to make any of dozens of side wagers, known as "proposition bets" or "props," which are not directly tied to the final score.

"Super Bowl betting is a part of the experience now," Slane said. "It's definitely a ritual that people enjoy, like eating chicken wings and pizza."

Nevada has been tracking its Super Bowl handle since 2009 and each year has topped the previous one. More than $158.58 million was wagered on last year’s big game, up from $138.48 million in 2017.

Michael Lawton, a senior research analyst for the Nevada Gaming Board, said Sunday’s Patriots-Rams title game should bring in about 4 percent more action than last year's clash between the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I expect another record,” said Lawton. “I don’t know what would make me say we’re not going to set another record.”

The New England Patriots are 2 1/2-point favorites over the Los Angeles Rams in Sunday's big game.