The Super Bowl's larger-than-life presence in American culture, if put in numbers, comes to about 139 million pounds of guacamole, 162.5 million pounds of chicken wings and 325 million gallons of beer.
While these numbers are, in a true sense, reflective of America's binge consumption ritual on a Super Bowl Sunday, the tradition is quickly adding one more to the list: betting pools, which accounted for $4.1 billion in trade this past weekend.
As the Denver Broncos locked horns with the Carolina Panthers, many of their fans, bettors and believers poured $132.5 million into betting on the game at Nevada sports books. Nationwide, they illegally wagered $4.1 billion, according to the American Gaming Association (AGA).
“The record amount wagered — legally and illegally — on Super Bowl 50 offers further proof that sports betting has become America’s new national pastime,” said AGA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. “Fans want to be invested in their favorite sports and, one way or another, will find a way to do so. AGA will continue to build support for a modern and rational approach that protects these fans and the integrity of the sports we enjoy.”
The outpouring of dollars into the betting scene is, however, not just reflective of a select group of enthusiasts but rather signifies a changing fan sentiment, with 80 percent of viewers supporting a change to existing sports betting laws and 66 percent suggesting that states should be allowed to decide on the legality of sports betting, according to polling data collected by AGA.
And, in this emerging space, money transfer apps seem to be the champion of consumer choice, with over $116 million reportedly spent online and on in-person bets for last year's big game. The big dollars being spent by viewers seemed to have taken even payments processor PayPal by surprise, with its money transfer app, Venmo, suffering an outage from a surge in transactions after the Broncos beat the Panthers 24-10.