About two-thirds of Americans believe that sports betting influences reactions to officiating in the National Football League, according to a new poll from Seton Hall University.
Nearly half of respondents found the NFL had good officiating, but another 27% called the officiating terrible. When asked if sports betting influenced that reaction, 62% said “yes,” while 20% answered “no.” (The exact question posed: “Is sports betting, which has been legalized in many states, influencing people’s reaction to officiating of NFL games?”)
That’s an interestingly high number given the intersection of the pro sports leagues and their desire to be more involved with how sports wagering expands in the United States.
The respondents were split on whether to do more as well: 42% are against using replay on every call while 41% support the idea.
Surprisingly, respondents found Major League Baseball officiating to be the best at 64%, with just 3% categorizing umpires as terrible. Seton Hall pointed out that nearly half of the disputed calls in baseball are overturned.
Is officiating key to integrity?
The idea of requiring sports betting operators to pay the major leagues is still alive as states work out their regulations. The rhetoric has switched from calling the payments integrity fees to royalties or official data fees, which are still a possibility in some states, including Michigan.
But as Legal Sports Report‘s Dustin Gouker points out, sports betting is much less of a threat to the integrity of sports than bad officiating.
Main data points on the sports betting poll
The poll broke down responses by Democrats, Republicans, independents and “other.” Democrats and Republicans each accounted for 25% of the 703 respondents.
And surprisingly, the two feuding parties agreed on most points.
Second to MLB to be ranked as having good officiating was college football at 53%. Next was NBA at 49%, NFL and college basketball at 48% and NHL at 44%.
Democrats and Republicans were no more than five percentage points away from each other on their good officiating takes.
The same closeness rang true on whether sports betting influenced reactions to NFL officiating, as 62% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans agreed.
The only area where there was a wide disagreement was concerning the use of replay on every play. A majority of Democrats, 51%, said they approve of replay use on every play. Only 27% of Republicans agreed.