A Deeper Look Inside the AGA’s Survey on Sports-Betting Beliefs

A couple of weeks back, as we reported here at Flushdraw, the American Gaming Association updated its official policies on several gambling-related matters.  In addition to the AGA’s reaffirmed support for traditional “states’ rights” (meaning each US state gets to define its own rules regarding legal and illegal gambling activities), the AGA also announced its full support for legalized sports betting across the US.

Whether or not the “PASPA” era of sports betting being banned across most of the States will end any time soon remains unknown.  What the AGA has also released, however, are the recent results of a consumer survey of sports betting attitudes and beliefs.  More so than ever before, mainstream America believes that the time has arrived for the country to embrace the activity that’s already widely available in underground forms anyway.

A couple of weeks back, we noted the AGA’s topline findings from that survey:

  • Nearly six in ten Americans are in favor of ending the federal sports betting ban to allow states to decide whether to offer sports betting;
  • 72 percent of avid sports fans are in favor of ending the federal ban;
  • More than six in ten 18-36 year olds are in favor of legal sports betting;
  • Nearly 2 in 3 Americans believe legalized sports betting would allow local communities to benefit from additional tax revenues and job creation; and
  • Were it legal to bet on sports, roughly 28 million Americans – the size of Texas’ population – would be more likely to wager on sports.

Today, though, we’ll dig deeper into the survey itself, which offers considerably more on the topic.

First, the methodology: The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of the AGA.  The survey was conducted January 24-30, 2017, in which 1,200 adults responded via phone, with 400 more “avid sports fans” providing information through an online response portal.

The survey’s results speak to the universality of sports betting, which goes hand in hand with increasing mainstream acceptance.  According to the study, “Support for legalization extends across lines of party, race, gender, and geography, and includes both sports fans, who enthusiastically support legalization, and non-sports fans, a plurality of whom support changing the law.”

According to the study, 55% of all adult Americans now support legalized sports betting; only 35% oppose it.  That percentage is an aggregate of all categories: Young and old, male and female, stridently religious and not as much, and more.  As GQR summarized it:

  • Overall, a 55 percent majority of Americans support legalization. Only 35 percent oppose. Ten percent are undecided at first ask.
  • Avid sports fans are the strongest, but not the only supporters, at 72 percent in favor. Casual fans support legalization by a 54 percent to 36 margin. And even those who are not sports fans at all are more likely to favor (45 percent) than oppose (42 percent).
  • Other key groups are highly supportive of legalization, including casino-goers (70-24 support-oppose), Super Bowl viewers (59-32), and millennials (61-30).
  • People who play DFS or fantasy sports are almost universally in favor (88-7).
  • There are noteworthy demographic differences in support for legalization:

o Men (65 percent) are more supportive than women (46 percent), and male avid sports fans (77 percent) are more supportive than female (64 percent);
o Younger people (62 percent of those under age 50) are more supportive than older people (47 percent of those age 50 or above, including 41 percent of seniors);
o White adults (58 percent) are more supportive than non-white adults (51 percent among African Americans, 53 percent among Hispanics);
o Higher-income adults (64 percent among those with household incomes above $75,000) are more likely to support than lower-income adults (52 percent among those with household incomes below $30,000);
o Adults who do not attend religious services (60 percent) or attend irregularly (61 percent) are more supportive than those who attend services at least weekly (46 percent).

  • Were it legal to bet on sports, 12 percent of American adults would be more likely to bet on sports – which represents roughly 28 million people. That includes:

o 41 percent of those who already report having bet on sports
o 33 percent of avid sports fans
o 47 percent of avid millennial fans
o 39 percent of those who frequently attend sporting events
o 26 percent of casino-goers

  • Majority support holds – and even expands slightly – in response to arguments both for and against legalization. Overall support rises from 55 to 58 percent; strong support rises from 23 percent to 28 percent. Demographic groups particularly open to positive messaging include seniors (+5 net movement), adults in the South (+7), non-college women (+7), liberals (+6), casino-goers (+5), and non-white adults (+4).

As surveys go, that’s a comprehensive and positive series of findings.  Among the most positive is that the younger the respondent, the more likely the support for legalized sports betting.  The detailed category totals (far too cumbersome to include here), show this dramatic acceptance with younger respondents.  The strength of the curve suggests that such support will only grow, as a certain mainstream stigma in the US regarding sports betting being socially acceptable continues to fade and wither.

It also doesn’t hurt that the most positive respondents tended to come from young, white, affluent males, the people who are more likely to affect policy change in the coming years.  (Right or not, that’s just the reality of American life, in terms of who wields the power.)

There’s so much more in the GQR study that’s worthy of reporting, though time and space here are more limited.  Readers with interest in the topic are encouraged to read the complete findings themselves, which the AGA has published here.

In terms of takeaways, the AGA and GQR offer this, under the title of “Leveraging Insights”:

  • Betting is not a fringe activity;
  • A majority of Americans are uninformed, or misinformed, about the legal landscape;
  • Legalization receives broad, bipartisan support;
  • Legal sports betting would increase fan activity, enjoyment, and engagement;
  • Sports fans (which is a large majority of Americans) want to legalize sports betting.

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