What’s A Legal US Sportsbook? A Quarter Of Bettors Still Don’t Know

Posted on July 21, 2020 - Last Updated on July 20, 2020

It’s not always easy for less-educated sports bettors to know which sportsbooks are legal in the United States.

But one thing appears clear: bettors want to be on the right side of the law. That’s according to a new survey conducted by Heart + Mind Strategies for the  American Gaming Association.

A total of 74% of respondents said it’s important to use only legal US sportsbooks. But 52% of US sports bettors bet with an illegal sportsbook last year, with more than half of those bettors thinking they’re doing business with licensed operators.

“We’ve known for a long time that Americans like to bet on sports,” AGA President and CEO Bill Miller said. “This research affirms their interest in moving toward the protections of the legal market. Giving consumers convenient alternatives to the illegal market, like regulated mobile offerings and competitive odds, is key for getting bettors to switch to legal channels.”

Legal US sportsbooks see boost in 2019

Sports bettors are still in the early stages of adjusting to legal US sports betting sites after the end of PASPA in June 2018.

But there was a positive shift in the market last year with 12% growth in average betting spend at legal online and mobile US sportsbooks, according to the AGA.

The overall illegal market saw a 25% dip in average betting spend, but that didn’t end all confusion. Offshore, unlicensed operators still saw a 3% increase in average betting spend in states that legalized sports betting.

Meanwhile, states without legal sportsbooks witnessed average betting spend jump 24% at offshore operators.

The AGA is fighting to educate Americans on what legal vs. illegal sports betting can look like. It’s one of the key pillars of the AGA’s Have A Game Plan responsible betting campaign.

Currently, 18 states and Washington DC offer legal sports betting. Legal sports betting in Virginia, Tennessee, Washington and North Carolina is pending launch.

Top reasons to switch to legal operators

There were five top reasons that sports bettors shifted to legal sportsbooks when given the opportunity:

  • 25% mentioned confidence that bets will be paid out.
  • 20% were made aware of legal options offered by casinos.
  • 19% cited a desire to use a regulated sportsbook.
  • 19% also mentioned the free bets offered by regulated operators.
  • 18% said they were influenced by legal sports betting news.
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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