Legal Sports Report

Poll: Seven In Ten US Adults Say Pro Leagues Shouldn’t Promote Sports Betting Legalization

Sports leagues and betting laws

The majority of Americans do not think sports leagues should actively promote the legalization of sports betting.

Data to support that statement comes from a new poll conducted by the Sharkey Institute at Seton Hall University. The poll, published today, was mostly centered around the upcoming Winter Olympics. But the last question specifically concerned leagues’ involvement in sports betting.

The NBA and Major League Baseball have started to lobby actively both for and against sports betting legislation around the country.

Poll question on sports betting

Here’s the relevant question as written, along with the results:

The NBA has proposed a plan for sports gambling to the NY State Senate that would include the league receiving one percent of all wagers and allow wagering on handheld devices and in kiosks as opposed to just casinos and racetracks. Do you think a professional sports league should be taking such an active role in promoting the legalization of sports gambling?

  • Yes – 16%
  • No – 69%
  • Don’t know/no opinion – 14%

In terms of breakdown, the data showed some pretty clear physical and social correlations.

Respondents who answered in the affirmative tend to be young, minority males of modest education. Only about one in ten women surveyed agreed, along with less than five percent of the population with a post-graduate degree. Hispanics were the only ethnic group among which a majority of respondents answered yes.

As far as age goes, the gap in responses is narrowest among the 18-29 age group. The yes/no answers are split by less than ten percent of the total votes in that group. On the other hand, more than 80 percent of people aged 60 and older answered no to the question.

The poll took place from Jan. 29-31 via random calls to 706 adults on landlines and cellphones across the country. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percent, according to the Institute.

Seton Hall Sports has provided regular and reputable polling since 2006.

The full results can be seen here.

Backdrop for the sports betting question

The sports betting question was posed as the professional sports leagues seem to be changing their stance on sports betting.

In the past, the leagues have stood against a change to the status quo. Under current federal law, single-game wagering is prohibited outside of Nevada sports betting, which was grandfathered under PASPA. The US Supreme Court is currently reviewing the breadth of that prohibition at the behest of New Jersey. The NCAA and major US pro leagues are litigants against NJ sports betting.

Times seem to be changing. Most experts think NJ will be granted a victory in court, which could range from a state-specific win to a broad repeal of PASPA. Either way, the decision will set the tone for the future of the industry in the US.

The leagues seem to see the handwriting on the wall, too. Although the NBA has a somewhat progressive stance on sports betting compared to the other leagues, it has long stood against state-by-state legislation. Now, though, it’s changing its tune.

NY sports betting marks pivot point

Last month, New York lawmakers held a public hearing regarding their state’s movement toward legal NY sports betting. The NBA sent its assistant general counsel, Dan Spillane, to testify before the Senate Racing Gaming and Wagering Committee.

Spillane’s testimony indicated that the NBA would support comprehensive sports betting bills that meet its list of five criteria. Those criteria range from the installation of consumer protections to the collection of an “integrity fee” amounting to one percent of the total money wagered. Integrity fees would go directly to governing body of the sports on which wagering occurs.

In the time since, it’s clear that the leagues prioritize one of those asks a bit more than the others. The MLB and NBA appear to be supporting bills that include integrity fees, while actively lobbying against those that don’t.

Eric Ramsey
- Eric is a reporter and writer covering poker, sports betting, and DFS. He comes from a poker background, formerly on staff at PokerNews and the World Poker Tour.