Even as Super Bowl LV's TV audience declined, the amount of money wagered on the game skyrocketed in some states — especially in New Jersey, where gamblers doubled their action, regulators said.
Garden State football fans wagered $117.4 million on Sunday's pro football title game, marking a 116-percent hike from last year's handle of $54.3 million, according to data from New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement.
New Jersey's Super Bowl wagers significantly closed the gap between it and America's gambling hub of Nevada, where gamblers put $136.09 million on Sunday's game — down from $154.67 million in 2020, state Gaming Control Board data showed.
Sports betting is now legal in 20 states and the District of Columbia, and the smaller TV audience, pandemic and accompanying economic impact didn't seem to slow down action on Sunday's game, which was won 31-9 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Like New Jersey, Super Bowl action in Iowa also more than doubled to $16.3 million, from $6.5 million a year ago, officials said.
The lure of a game featuring Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, considered by many to be the greatest of all time, and his heir apparent, Chiefs signal caller Patrick Mahomes, drew many casual bettors, regulators said.
The overall TV audience, however, was not as captivated by the Brady-Mahomes, Bucs-Chiefs clash, as an average of 96.4 million viewers across TV and streaming platforms tuned in Sunday, according to data from CBS, which aired the game. It's the lowest viewership since Super Bowl XLI in 2007, which was also on CBS.
"I believe people love great sports no matter of a pandemic," said Wes Ehrecke, president and CEO of the Iowa Gaming Association. "This epic GOAT-baby GOAT matchup would have been hyped the same, either way," referring to the acronym for "greatest of all time."
Pennsylvania nearly doubled its Super Bowl wagers on Sunday, with a $53.6 million bet, compared to $30.6 million on last year's Super Bowl, making for a spike of nearly 75 percent.
Super Bowl action also increased in Oregon, to $3.46 million on Sunday, up from $1.95 million last year, the state's lottery commission said.
Mississippi grew its Super Bowl betting market to $8.1 million, up from from $6.7 million in the 2020 title game, according to the state's Gaming Commission.
West Virginia's big game handle was $4.3 million, an increase from the 2020 Super Bowl total of $3.9 million, lottery officials said.
Gamblers in Arkansas bet about $922,000 on Sunday's game at three casinos, an increase from $705,000 last year, the Department of Finance and Administration said.
Rhode Island took in $6.5 million in Super Bowl action, which improved on its 2020 handle of $5.5 million, according to the Department of Revenue.
Delaware might have been one of the few places to see a decrease in Super Bowl betting, where there was just $1.9 million in bets placed on the Bucs-Chiefs game compared to $2.1 million a year ago, according to the state's Department of Finance.
New Hampshire regulators were expected to release their Super Bowl data at some point this week.
Indiana will not make Super Bowl data available until next month and New York declined to release that information, state officials said. In New Mexico, sports wagering only happens at Native American casinos and is not subject to state reporting.
Gamblers were able to make their first legal Super Bowl bets in Washington, D.C., Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, Tennessee and Virginia.
Illinois books accepted a whopping $45.6 million in the state's first Super Bowl wagers, the Gaming Board reported.
Meanwhile, Colorado gamblers placed $31.2 million on Sunday's game, according to the Department of Revenue.
The Michigan Gaming Control Board and Virginia Lottery won't have Super Bowl betting data until March 10 and Feb. 20, respectively, representatives of those agencies said.
Tennessee and District of Columbia regulators don't collect figures on Super Bowl wagers, officials said. A Montana Lottery spokeswoman said Tuesday night her researchers are still trying to unearth the 48-hour-old data.
For decades, Nevada was the only state to accept sports bets. But that changed after the Supreme Court in 2018 struck down sports gambling prohibitions outside the state.