American Football Betting A Big Hit In UK
February 27, 2020
Since the game was first created in 1920, American Football has been beloved in the United States. Predicting results of matches held stateside has been popular with bettors in the United Kingdom for several years, and with the number of high-quality online bookmakers in the UK today it’s more widespread than ever.
Enjoyable as betting on the games in other countries might be, the sport is so connected to USA culture that many people find it hard to imagine anyone playing it except the Yanks. However, there’s a growing movement of international American Football leagues, matches and superstars. And interestingly, the United Kingdom is leading the charge.
US Football’s UK History
The history of American Football in the United Kingdom is longer than you might think. In fact, the first organised game on British soil was between sailors from the USS Idaho and the USS Vermont, all the way back in 1910. During the Second World War, the thousands of US service personnel stationed in the UK enjoyed their national pastime regularly and held several matches between 1941 and 1945.
Channel 4 started airing weekly NFL highlights in 1982, and soon gained a large British audience. In 1986, over 4 million UK viewers tuned in to watch the Super Bowl! The first English league was also launched around this time, and by 1986 there were 102 UK teams including the London Monarchs who won the inaugural World Bowl in 1991. The World Bowl and World League are now defunct, but the current NFL International Series has filled the vacuum that they left perfectly.
The NFL International Series
The National Football League, or NFL, International Series was established in 2007, with the first regular-season game to ever be held outside of North America. Between 2007 and 2011, a single game was held at Wembley Stadium and broadcast nationally in England and locally in the USA.
Wembley Stadium was the International Series’ exclusive home arena until 2015, but now 2 matches are held there and an additional 2 are held in Twickenham Stadium every year. This NFL London Games subseries is complemented by the NFL Mexico Games which have been held annually in Mexico City since 2016 with the exception of 2018.
Currently the Mexico and London subseries constitute the entire NFL International series, but there are rumoured future plans to expand the series to Canada and/or Germany. Each year viewership grows, and in 2017 23 million people in the UK watched the televised International Games. With more spectators, the number of NFL bettors in the United Kingdom has also grown exponentially.
Betting markets are the same no matter where the matches are being played, and include Spreads, Moneylines, Totals, Props, Parlays and Teasers. In 2014, William Hill reported that Britons’ NFL betting showed a 40% year-on-year increase and that figure is estimated to be even bigger today. This has led to the NFL establishing a UK office, which allows them to engage with fans throughout the year.
An NFL Team in London?
There is so much British-based enthusiasm for the NFL, there’s even been talk of an NFL team based in London. The likeliest scenario here is that the Jacksonville Jaguars, owned by Shahid Kahn who also owns FC, will be transferred to London instead of the League setting up a new team.
The global reach of American Football is actually extending even further than the International Series these days. Collegiate-level Football is played, watched and bet on with the same intensity and NFL games, and WWE boss Vince McMahon has also relaunched the XFL.
With less focus on entertainment and professional wrestling moves than its 2001 predecessor, its season and postseason are held in the months after the Super Bowl. All of this adds up to a lot of fantastic American Football betting at the sportsbooks we recommend.