New Jersey topped $1 billion in September bets, showcasing the NFL's season of gambling perfection

Asia's Tech News Daily

As it sprints toward embracing gambling-related revenue, this is the start the NFL was looking for.

Close games. Parity amongst the Super Bowl favorites. Entertainment. Television ratings bounding back in the right direction. Not only is the NFL in the midst of a great season, it’s showing very quickly how much good football matters in the sports betting industry. And you needn’t look much further than New Jersey, one of the pioneer states in sports betting that is considered a bellwether of where legalized gambling is headed — particularly during football season.

According to figures released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, Atlantic City’s swath of casinos and race tracks took in more than $1 billion in bets in September — much of it on the strength of the NFL and college football seasons. That marks the first time in history that a state-regulated sports betting industry has punched through the $1 billion mark for a single month. And if you’ve been watching the NFL this season, you know why.

The entertainment value of the NFL is through the roof in 2021, largely driven by a league that is awash in parity and keeping fan bases engaged not only week to week, but game to game and quarter to quarter. The kind of thing that powers not only casino sports books, but the in-game betting that takes place on phones. Close games that offer entertainment and intrigue not only draw in fans and gamblers, but keeps them connected to broadcasts and betting over longer periods of time. And the NFL has been nothing if not a collection of tight finishes, entertaining games, blockbuster prime time results and improbably, road teams having a higher win percentage than home teams this season.

The Sunday-to-Monday slate was a perfect example. The wall-to-wall run of entertainment began improbably on Sunday morning, beaming in a game from London between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Miami Dolphins that had an exceedingly low bar for expectations. Somehow, four quarters later, it had become interesting enough to trend on social media, as Jaguars coach Urban Meyer won his first NFL game on the foot of a practice squad kicker that he’d chosen to elevate only days before.

© Provided by Yahoo! Sports A thrilling finish in Monday night’s Bills-Titans game capped off a Week 6 full of close games that are like catnip to bettors. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

By the time the NFL’s Week 6 concluded — with Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen lying flattened in a pivotal last-second 4th-and-1 stop near the Tennessee Titans goal line — five of the league’s 14 games had been decided either in overtime or the final minute of regulation. The entertaining gifts included a walk-off 35-yard overtime touchdown pass that elevated the Dallas Cowboys over the New England Patriots; a similar walk-off overtime touchdown pass that pushed the Minnesota Vikings past the Carolina Panthers; and a stunning forced fumble in overtime that helped the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks on an overtime field goal.

That’s five more games decided in the final minute of regulation or overtime — bringing the season total of final-minute or overtime winners to 24 in only six weeks. That tally includes 11 overtime games, which is the second-most in league history at this point in the season. That puts the 2021 slate ahead of the pace when it comes to challenging the all-time record of 25 overtime games in a single season. Now imagine what kind of impact that will have on sports betting in states like New Jersey.

It’s going to be massive. Likely to the point of New Jersey setting a new billion-dollar betting record in October that exceeds the one it just set last month.

Not only will that added interest tie into the league’s television ratings and enhance advertising slots for its network partners, it means nothing but good things for those gambling-related revenues the NFL is now courting along with everyone else. It makes the league and team partnerships with sports betting operators more valuable moving forward, through the rising use of advertising, licensing and media inventory that comes in those agreements.

It also feeds the NFL’s seemingly insatiable quest for deeper engagement, which commissioner Roger Goodell once opined could be another renaissance period similar to the fantasy football explosion that began in the 1990s. To understand the power of that engagement, you only needed to look at that Cowboys-Patriots overtime game and what happened in a 27-point fourth quarter that saw the two teams trade scores three times in the last three minutes before going into overtime. According to numbers released by CBS, nearly 30 million viewers were tuned in between 7:30 and 7:45 EST, when the outcome see-sawed and went into overtime. Not only was it the most-watched October national game for the network since 2015, it drew the network’s largest streaming audience ever.

These are the kinds of eyeballs the NFL expected — not to mention the ongoing broader ratings rebound — when the league opened up the lanes to gambling partnerships. While the league might be wading through a swamp of issues off the field, it’s on nothing less than a race track between the lines. Largely thanks to dominating quarterbacks, mercurial field-goal kicking, fourth-down dice-rolls, a turnstile of Super Bowl favorites and a product that is looking as entertaining as ever.

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