A record 46.6 million American adults plan to place sports bets in the upcoming National Football League (NFL) season — which begins Thursday night — with a 3% increase from a year earlier, according to new research by the American Gaming Association (AGA).

As legalization spreads, punters are moving away from bookmakers and towards regulated options. In this sense, 23 million American adults will place an online bet this season, up 18% from 2021.

Additionally, 10.6 million will place an in-person bet at a bookmaker this season, up 2% from 2021. Only 13% of NFL punters say they will use a bookmaker, down two points from the year. past (15%) and five points from 2020 (18%). Engagement with betting brands is 50% higher in states without legalized sports betting.

Today, more than half (132 million) of American adults can legally gamble in their home state, 18 million more than at this time last year. Demonstrating consumer trust in regulated sportsbooks, nine in 10 (89%) of sports bettors last year say it is very or somewhat important that they bet with a legal and regulated sportsbook.

“The sustained interest in NFL betting reflects the continued growth and maturation of legal sports betting across the country,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement. “Consumers clearly want legal sports betting options and understand the liability commitments of the regulated industry”.

Sports betting is currently legal in 36 states and Washington D.C., with 32 jurisdictions already offering operating markets. Thus, 18 of the 22 states that have NFL teams have legalized sports betting.

Additionally, Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland and Wisconsin have all launched new markets since the start of the 2021 NFL season. Americans legally gambled more than $50.4 billion on sports in the first seven months of 2022, generating more than $809 million in federal, state and local taxes.

46.6 million Americans plan to bet on the next NFL season

Additionally, as the start of the NFL coincides with the start of Responsible Gaming Education Month, nine out of ten (92%) US sports bettors report awareness of responsible gaming tools. And, 90% remember seeing or hearing about responsible gaming in the past year, and 51% saw or heard more about responsible gaming in the last 12 months than in previous years.

A majority of sports bettors from last year believe that responsible gaming programs are very or somewhat effective (82%) and that the gaming industry is committed to encouraging responsible gaming and tackling the problem of gambling (81%).

“Accountability is a cornerstone of regulated sports betting in the United States and a clear competitive advantage as we continue to build a sustainable marketplace,” added Miller.

Among NFL punters, the Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9%) are the most popular to win Super Bowl LVII, followed by the Los Angeles Rams and Kansas City Chiefs (8%) and the Dallas Cowboys (7%). The Super Bowl will be played in a legal sports betting jurisdiction (Arizona) for the first time in February 2023.