Note: This article is based on Variety Intelligence Platform’s special report “Sports Gambling & Media,” available exclusively to subscribers.

With sports betting found to drive engagement among fans, it falls to America’s favorite sport, the NFL, to be U.S. gamblers’ favorite sport on which to bet. 

Exclusive data fielded by CRG Global for Variety Intelligence Platform shows that four out of five mobile sports bettors had placed a bet on the NFL in October. This was a considerable amount greater than the next most popular sport to bet on, the NBA (54%), followed by the MLB (44%, although it was the postseason then, with fewer games to bet on) and college football (34%). 

CRG Global found there’s a direct link between placing a bet and watching, with two-thirds of mobile gamblers saying they watch the NFL more often when they bet on a game. 

An interesting finding from VIP+’s report is that betting on the NFL increases with age among sports gamblers. This reflects a trend where, although it is still one of the most popular sports, if not the most, among younger consumers, its pull is not as strong and is being increasingly rivaled by the NBA. 

The impact of the NFL can be seen in real terms when assessing the total being wagered each month across states where sports betting is legal. Betting spikes with the NFL postseason and return of the regular season, with only the NCAA’s annual March Madness competition able to rival the allure of pro football. 

Another interesting finding from the collaboration between Variety Intelligence Platform and CRG Global was that, proportionately, most sports bettors who are fans of the NFL bet on it. The number of fans who never bet is considerably lower than that for other sports, but the NFL also sees a higher level of fans who bet infrequently, perhaps being casual gamblers who only bet on big games and events. 

The current NFL season has seen a large number of games coming down to the final plays, which is also driving interest in betting. The majority of sports gamblers said that they found the unpredictability in this season’s games heightened their excitement if they had placed a bet, meaning that they will be avidly paying attention until the teams walk off the field. 

See more of VIP+'s sports betting coverage:

Engagement Gets Boost From Televised Games

2022 Was Sports Gambling's Biggest Year

A Look at the Most Popular Sportsbooks

Read the Report