Industry Reports

Majority of Americans Favour Sports Betting Legalization in New Poll

A wide number of surveys on public opinion on sports betting have been conducted since December 2017, when the U.S. Supreme Court took New Jersey’s appeal of the federal ban on sports wagering. With inconclusive, often opposing results, they have not been able to demonstrate in a clear, unambiguous way whether people approve of legalized betting on sports or not. Now, a new poll has been released and even though not a bit less controversial, it suggests that the majority of Americans favour the legalization of sports betting.

According to the latest findings in the Seton Hall Sports Poll, 55 per cent of Americans are in favour of legalized betting on sports events, while 35 per cent oppose that concept. The poll, conducted by the Sharkey Institute, was published Thursday by the Seton Hall University in New Jersey. The survey debuted in 2006 as the first university-based polling service dedicated exclusively to the sports industry in the United States and on a global scale. Its latest edition shows controversial results, with nearly half of the respondents (48%) believing that legalized sports betting would negatively impact the integrity of sports events.

This suggests that although people want to bet on sports events, they are not particularly interested in the outcomes of that – whether matches would be fixed or fair. To the first question, whether they approve of legalized betting on sports events, 10 per cent of the respondents answer that they do not know or have no opinion. The same percentage of people express uncertainty in the second part of the poll, which asks whether they think legalization would have a negative impact on the integrity of sports events. And while 48 per cent of them believe that legalization would result in match-fixing, another 42 per cent have the exact opposite opinion.

Rick Gentile, who is director of the poll, comments on the irrationality of the results by saying that although the majority of people favour legalized sports betting, they feel this would lead to fixing of the games. Apparently surprised by the findings, he calls this confusion and irresponsibility “outrageous”.

More Interesting Results of the Seton Hall Sports Poll

Researchers were also interested to find out what people thought about the possibility that states are in control of sports betting as opposed to the federal government. This is exactly the issue that is currently under review at the Supreme Court – whether a state-wide law banning sports betting is constitutional or not. According to the results of the poll, 62 per cent of the people believe sports betting should be under state control, while 27 per cent say it should be regulated by the federal government. Of those who approve of legalized sports betting, 49 per cent think it should cover both professional and college sports events, while 36 per cent say it should be limited to only professional sports.

In addition, men seem to be more supportive of legalized sports betting – 63 per cent of them are in favour versus only 47 per cent of women who approve it. Support for legalization also falls with age, as 68 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 29 are in favour of legalized sports wagering, compared to only 37 per cent of people aged 60 and over. Even more interestingly, those with higher education seem to disapprove – 39 per cent of people with post-graduate degrees support legalized sports betting. In comparison, 71 per cent of those who did not finish high school say “Yes” to legalized wagering on sports events.