Younger Americans More Likely To Support Sports Betting Legalization
Legal Sports Report

New Poll: Half Of Americans Favor Ending Sports Betting Prohibition At Federal Level

Sports betting poll
A new poll shows 48 percent of Americans favor changing federal laws so the states could legalize sports betting.

Results from the Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll showed that 39 percent would be opposed to such action.

FDU asked nearly the same question in 2012 and got similar results — 51 percent in favor — putting the two polls within the margin of error. In 2010, only 39 percent supported the expansion of legal sports betting in the US.

The newest poll also comes on the heels of a Seton Hall poll in which about half of Americans intimated their belief that sporting events “could be rigged,” a vague assertion that has some overlap with the sports betting issue.

The two New Jersey-based polls also come as the state makes yet another attempt to pass a law to allow sports wagering within its borders.

Inside the latest sports betting poll

The new poll was the latest proof that there is not widespread opposition to sports betting in the US.

Here is the question asked of poll respondents:

Currently, betting on sports – like football and basketball games – is legal only in Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana. Do you favor or oppose [rotate] changing the law to allow people to place bets on sports in all states?

Who were the strongest supporters of legalizing sports betting? Among Americans under 35, 60 percent believed laws should be changed on sports betting. Republicans (52 percent) were more likely to support sports betting than Democrats (45 percent) in the poll.

Why do people feel that way about sports betting?

Why did the poll respondents favor legalization? The top reasons:

  • People are already doing it (45 percent).
  • Legal sports betting would generate increased revenue for the states (39 percent).
  • It makes watching sports more exciting (9 percent).

“With the World Series almost behind us, and the NFL and NBA seasons underway, Americans will be doing a lot of betting. Many would enjoy the opportunity to wager in places other than office pools and among friends,” said Krista Jenkins, director of PublicMind.

“Betting on sports does not have an access issue for anyone in the United States. Most of the sports betting in the U.S. is fairly easy to do but happens in the shadows and in violation of federal law,” noted Donald Hoover, senior lecturer at the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at FDU.

Mo more casinos, though?

Despite the fact that Americans were more supportive than not of sports betting, respondents were not interested in the expansion of land-based casinos.

The poll showed 68 percent say the US has enough casinos; just 11 percent want more.

“With an overwhelming number who believe there are enough casinos, we may have reached a saturation point for casino expansion in the United States,” Jenkins said.

Earlier poll, similar results

The FDU poll comes after a similar poll question was posed by Seton Hall University in the spring. It found that 63 percent felt that the legality of betting on sports should be handled by the states.

That poll asked:

“Do you think states should be free to decide whether to legalize betting on sporting events or should sports betting be regulated by the federal government?”

That’s obviously a different question than the FDU poll, but nonetheless highlights that a plurality, if not a majority, of Americans are in favor of legal sports betting.

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Dustin Gouker
- Dustin Gouker has been a sports journalist for more than 15 years, working as a reporter, editor and designer -- including stops at The Washington Post and the D.C. Examiner.