NEW YORK (Reuters) - Total Super Bowl wagering at legal sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey were lower than expected, according to data from state regulators on Monday, despite excitement about the spread of legal sports betting to new U.S. states.
A lack of interest in the match-up between the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams, as well as the dullness of the game itself, could have dampened betting activity.
The plodding play, with a final 13-3 score that was the lowest in Super Bowl history, also contributed to the lowest television ratings since 2009.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in May overturned a 1992 federal ban on sports betting outside of Nevada, allowing other states to legalize, regulate and tax sports betting.
Seven more states have come online since then, feeding the notion that total wagers for America’s most bet-upon event would rise higher.
Instead, the numbers fell short. Nevada handled just $146 million, or 8 percent less than last year’s record $159 million.
The gambling hub had seen sports betting grow in recent years with the advent of mobile betting and may have been due for a slowdown, said PlayNJ.com’s lead sports betting analyst Dustin Gouker.
Nevada regulators were somewhat surprised, said Nevada Gaming Control Board senior research analyst Michael Lawton, but the amount is still the second-highest total ever after last year.
“At the end of the day it is a very solid number,” Lawton said.
Nevada sportsbooks also fared well, winning $10.8 million - unlike in New Jersey, where they lost $4.6 million on a total of $35 million wagered.
Gouker had previously estimated New Jersey’s total Super Bowl wagering would hit about $100 million. The state has been the most aggressive and quick to roll out mobile betting, and it handled $1.25 billion in its first six months through December.
“The New Jersey market is not as event-driven as Nevada, and it’s not as much of a destination, at least not yet, for the Super Bowl,” Gouker said on Monday.
Delaware, Mississippi, Rhode Island, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and one tribal casino in New Mexico also now have legal sports betting, and at least 15 more states so far this year are expected to consider legalizing it.
In Delaware, betting on the game totaled $2.2 million, with a $643,041 loss for its casinos and sportsbook operators, state regulators said.
Reporting by Hilary Russ; Editing by Tom Brown and Rosalba O'Brien