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WVU economics professor weighs in on bigger bets for ‘Big Game’

Brad Humphreys wears a WVU polo while smiling with a gray faded hair cut and minor facial hair

Brad Humphreys, associate dean for academic affairs and research and economics professor in the WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics, explains how the legalization of sports gambling in many states has affected Super Bowl bets. (WVU Photo)

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A researcher at West Virginia University expects “substantial” betting, more than for any other single sporting event in the United States, during Super Bowl 57 at a time when more states are legalizing gambling and expanding options.

Brad Humphreys, associate dean for academic affairs and research and economics professor in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics, researches the economics of gambling along with the economics and financing of professional sports.


“Widespread legal sports betting has substantially increased the amount of money bet on the Super Bowl. People still wager a lot on the spread, but they also place a lot of ‘proposition’ bets for things like first player to score, first sack, etc. It is also amazing that a lot of people like to bet on the coin toss which is completely random.

“Any bets with high payouts attract bettors. For this reason, parlays — when a bettor makes two or more bets and ties them together — are also very popular. App-based betting makes it easy for bettors to create their own parlays based on ‘proposition’ bets.

“The National Football League is bet on more often because of the widespread television coverage of its games. Evidence shows that betting on sporting events and watching them on TV are complementary activities. Fans get more enjoyment from watching a game when they have a bet on the outcome. Also, the NFL schedule lends itself to betting with fewer games than in baseball, basketball and hockey.

“All of the pro leagues and the NCAA have rules prohibiting players, coaches and officials from betting on games. But, as with any illegal activity, detection is difficult. The primary approach is to deter betting within this group by enforcing stiff penalties if someone is caught betting on games. Typical punishment is a lifetime suspension. However, app-based betting has made detection more complicated. There is little evidence on how widespread this actually is.” — Brad Humphreys, economics professor and associate dean for academic affairs and research, WVU John Chambers College of Business and Economics

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