A recent poll found that nearly two out of three Americans believe that sports betting should be legal in the U.S.
What the poll learned about sports betting
The poll by Seton Hall University was taken during March Madness — the men’s NCAA basketball tournament — on which billions of dollars change hands each year in bracket pools.
In the poll, which was based on a nationwide sample, 63% felt that betting on sports should be legal. Less than a third of the population opposed legal sports betting (29%). The poll had a margin of error of about 4%.
Respondents also overwhelmingly believed states should be allowed to determine the legality of sports betting. Poll respondents were 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?”
A total of 68% said sports betting’s legality should be decided at the state level; just 21% said the federal government should be in charge of regulating it.
Currently, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act governs sports betting in the U.S., allowing full sports betting in Nevada and limited wagering in Delaware, Montana and Oregon.
Legal sports betting, still a ways off?
Despite the public sentiment about sports betting, the idea that it could be legal in new jurisdictions still appears to be years off.
There are two main routes that could lead to more sports betting in the U.S.:
- A repeal of PASPA, for which there appears to be little appetite right now.
- A victory for New Jersey in its case against the major professional sports leagues to offer sports betting within its borders. The state’s odds of winning do not appear to be favorable.
The American Gaming Association has been making a push on sports betting, highlighting recently that vasts amounts of money are being wagered illegally by American all the time on sports.
Meanwhile, leagues and some governments have also softened their stance toward sports wagering:
- NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is still in favor of legal sports betting.
- The NFL is considering moving a franchise to Las Vegas, a move that many never would have contemplated previously.
- A variety of states are attempting to regulate daily fantasy sports or authorize sports betting (should PASPA be taken off the books, in the case of the latter).
Certainly positive poll numbers for sports betting may be good for the future. However, there’s still a wide chasm that must be crossed before a change in federal policy regarding sports betting happens.