New Poll: 15 Percent Of Americans Would Bet On Super Bowl If Sports Betting Were Legal

Posted on February 10, 2017
Written By on February 10, 2017

A new poll showed that 15 percent of Americans would have bet on the Super Bowl, if it were legal to do so, and only nine percent admitted to wagering on the game via a bet or pool. But do those figures mesh with reality?

The top line numbers on Super Bowl betting

The Seton Hall Sports Poll this week focused mostly on the big game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. Here are the questions asked of respondents regarding sports betting:

Did you place a bet on the outcome of the game, participate in a pool, engage in fantasy play or not wager any money on the game?

  • Bet 5 percent
  • Pool 4
  • Fantasy 1
  • No Wager 84
  • Don’t Know/No Ans. 7

If sports gambling was legal in your state would you have placed a bet on the game?

  • Yes 15 percent
  • No 79
  • Don’t know 6

The poll had a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

Do these responses fall in line with reality?

There’s certainly something a little fishy with these numbers. Only four percent of people put money down on a Super Bowl squares pool? That defies credulity.

Rick Gentile, director of the poll, had an explanation for Yahoo Finance:

“I honestly think people just won’t say they gambled,” he tells Yahoo Finance. “Or they simply don’t think a pool—like buying a box—is really gambling.”

With some questions, people aren’t willing to admit to a behavior, even if it’s given anonymously.

Anecdotally, I was at a Super Bowl party where I know almost no one else there would gamble at all the rest of the year — even on March Madness. But they all took part in a Super Bowl squares pool.

Even the 15 percent number — the percentage of people who would bet on the Super Bowl if it were legal — likely strains at reality as underreporting.

The American Gaming Association estimates Americans wagered $4.7 billion on the Super Bowl, most of it illegally.

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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.

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