College Football Playoff Wagering May Reach $6 Billion

College football’s new playoff system may generate almost $6 billion in betting worldwide, more than triple the amount wagered on the current Bowl Championship Series title game.

The semifinal games are each projected to generate as much as the $1.8 billion bet on the current single-game BCS matchup, according to RJ Bell, founder of Las Vegas-based handicapping information website Pregame.com. The championship game under the new system may generate an additional $2.25 billion, Bell said in an e-mail.

“Having three big games will drastically increase the overall betting handle,” Bell said.

The National Football League’s annual Super Bowl is estimated to generate $10 billion in betting worldwide, according to Pregame.com.

“Any time you have a championship game, I don’t care if it’s a Super Bowl, the NCAA final or a college football BCS championship game, we’ve had terrific action on those games,” Johnny Avello, director of race and sports operations at the Wynn Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview. “Now we’re increasing that to three. I think those two playoff games are going to be huge.”

Nevada’s Take

In Nevada, the only U.S. state that allows casino gambling statewide, the three playoff games are expected to generate $60 million in betting, Bell said.

A four-team, three-game playoff that incorporates the major bowls in the semifinals was approved yesterday in Washington by the 12-member BCS Presidential Oversight Committee. The proposal was put forward by the commissioners of the 11 conferences at the sport’s top level -- the Football Bowl Subdivision -- and University of Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick.

The playoff, which has been in demand for years by many fans, some lawmakers and even U.S. President Barack Obama, will start with the 2014 season. College football’s national champion since 1998 has been crowned by the BCS, which uses a formula that incorporates rankings and computer polls to decide the two schools that play for the title.

The playoff format, which was approved under a 12-year deal, provides that the two semifinal games rotate among six major bowls, a group that probably includes the four current BCS games: the Fiesta, Orange, Rose and Sugar bowls. The games would be played on New Year’s Day or New Year’s Eve.

The national championship game would be played on a Monday night, at least six days after the semifinals, and the neutral site would be up for bid the same way the National Football League rotates its Super Bowl among cities.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Buteau in Atlanta at mbuteau@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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