Majority Of Americans Want Legal, Regulated Sports Betting, New Poll Says

The majority of Americans think one should be able to bet on sports legally.

According to the results of a national UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll, a majority of Americans (55 percent) support making gambling on professional sports legal in all states. Current federal law restricts single-game sports betting to Nevada, though its legal in a few others. The survey found that 33 percent oppose sports betting legalization.

The findings illustrated a shift in opinion from two decades ago when 56 percent of respondents were opposed to legalizing sports betting, according to a 1993 Gallup/CNN/USA Today poll.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to soon consider a repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which basically banned sports betting nationwide.

“A majority of Americans now favor sports betting, but this is especially true among respondents younger than 50. This suggests that support may actually continue to increase in years to come. I would not be surprised if we see a push to legalize sports betting in more states, especially in states with the ballot initiative,” said Prof. Joshua Dyck, co-director of the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion.

The poll also found that 73 percent of people who have bet on sports believe that it makes the games more interesting. According to separate research from the American Gaming Association, the current market for sports betting in America is about $150 billion annually, with the vast majority coming through illicit channels.

DFS ‘appears to be just a drop in the bucket’

According to the survey, only 16 percent of sports fans have participated in a fantasy league in the last five years. Less than 25 percent of those people played on a DFS site, which means a relatively small number of Americans gamble on sports through those platforms.

“With the controversies surrounding daily fantasy leagues, it’s interesting that only 3 percent of Americans have played in a daily fantasy football league in the last five years. Compared to overall sports gambling, daily fantasy appears to be just a drop in the bucket,” Dyck said.

Results of the UMass Lowell-Washington Post poll were based on live interviews with a random sample of 1,000 American adults conducted in English and Spanish via cellular telephones and landlines Aug. 14 through Aug. 21.

The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7 percent for all respondents.

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