Federal ban was lifted in 2018

85% of Americans in favor of Supreme Court decision that ended federal sports betting ban, AGA research reveals

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New research by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has revealed that the majority of Americans are in favor of the Supreme Court’s 2018 decision that ended the federal sports betting ban in place at the time. As per the AGA, the research shows that 85% of American adults agree with the move that struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), up from 63% in 2019. The survey further revealed that 77% of American adults support legalization in their state of residence.

As per the research, 39.2 million American adults have placed a traditional sports wager in the last 12 months, with 78% of bettors placing all or most bets through regulated operators. Additionally, 77% of online sports bets are now placed through regulated operators, as compared to just 44% in 2019.

American adults have always enjoyed betting on sports, and overwhelmingly value the ability to bring their action into a legal market, close to home,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller.

The rapid spread of legal sports betting – fuelled by regulated, responsible entities – has contributed to communities and established consumer protections by migrating betting away from the illegal market monopoly that PASPA perpetuated,” he added.

The research also notes that since May 2018, Americans have legally wagered $220 billion nationwide, generating $3 billion in state and local taxes for education, healthcare, infrastructure, responsible gaming and problem gambling resource funding, and more.

Consumer awareness drives adoption of legal sports betting

Bettors are now keen on moving towards a legal framework, with the regulated market retaining customers from illegal bookies and offshore operators. Among the top reasons bettors are choosing regulated operators over illegal operators are confidence bets will be paid out (71%), trust in account security and easier payment options (68%), and availability of responsible gaming resources (58%).

As per the research, only 29% of American adults say they are unsure of the legality of online sportsbooks in their state, which is a 45% decrease since 2018, showing a significantly better understanding of the legal status of sports betting. However, research also noted that 70% of sports bettors who placed most of their bets with illegal operators believed they were betting either exclusively with legal sportsbooks or splitting their bets evenly between legal and illegal operators.  

This consumer confusion is in part attributable to illegal offshore sites misrepresenting their legal status by marketing themselves as regulated sites. Among online sports bettors, they believe a site is legal based on a statement on the website (38%), odds being mentioned by the media (36%), and search results (32%).

"Five years post-PASPA, the AGA and our members continue to support responsibly expanding the legal market while cracking down on predatory illegal operators," continued Miller. "The regulated industry and our partners across the entire ecosystem—policymakers, law enforcement, regulators, leagues, media, technology providers, and more— have made significant strides in our collaborative consumer education efforts since 2018, and we will continue to find new ways to enhance consumer protections as the market matures."

These efforts are seemingly paying off. The research noted that nine in 10 (90%) bettors who place most of their bets legally intend to stay within the legal market in the next year. And as per the American Gaming Association, nearly half (46%) of bettors that currently bet primarily with unregulated operators plan to transition to regulated operators within the next 12 months.

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