For Immediate Release

Contact:                           

Dan Cassino 

Executive Director, FDU Poll    

973.896.7072/ dcassino@fdu.edu

 

Donald Hoover

FDU International School of Hospitality, Sports, and Tourism Management

609.432.7297/ dhoover@fdu.edu

 

Legal Sports Betting Common Even Where It’s Banned

Americans support further expansion, but there are signs that legalization disproportionately makes non-white Americans more likely to bet

Fairleigh Dickinson University, Madison, NJ, May 20, 2022 – While sports betting is still banned or limited in most states, 18 percent of Americans – and 24 percent of those who live in states where app-based betting is legal – say that they’ve made a legal sports bet in the past two years. According to new results from the FDU poll, Americans generally favor the expansion of sports betting by a 50 to 29 margin, but there are signs that legalization has disproportionately impacted racial minorities. Legalizing sports betting seems to lead to much bigger increases in betting among African-American or Black Americans, and non-whites generally than it does among white respondents.

Not surprisingly, people who live in states that have more lenient sports betting laws are more likely to have cast a bet. In states where app or mobile-based betting is allowed, 24 percent of Americans have bet on sports at least once recently; in states where it’s banned, or only allowed in person, that figure is just 15 percent. Allowing just for in-person betting doesn’t seem to increase the number of people betting on sports at all: in the data, the number of people betting in states with in-person (retail) betting is only one point higher than in states that ban it entirely.

“Allowing sports betting in person isn’t much different than banning it entirely,” said Dan Cassino, the Director of the FDU Poll. “But once people can make sports bets from home, the numbers start to really take off.”

In general, people living in states where sports betting is legal are no more likely to think it’s a good idea than those who live in states where it is not allowed. In states where betting is currently banned, 50 percent say that it is a good idea, with 29 percent saying that it’s a bad idea. In states where it’s fully legal, 52 percent support expansion, with 29 percent opposed.

A few states allow sports betting only in-person at casinos, generally those located on Native American reservations. People living in those states are the most likely to oppose the expansion of betting (38 percent good idea, verses 51 and 52 in other states).

Unusually, there are few partisan differences on these issues, with Democrats only slightly more likely to have cast a bet than Republicans (20 percent versus 16 percent), and similarly small differences in the number who support expansion (50 percent versus 46 percent).

This is not to say that there aren’t important differences between groups of Americans. Younger Americans are much more likely to have made a bet than older ones, with 23 percent of Americans under 45 reporting that they’ve cast a legal bet recently, compared with nine percent of those 45 and over. Younger people living in a state with fully legalized betting are also much more likely to have made a bet than those who live in states where betting is banned. In states where it’s banned, 17 percent of Americans 30 or under say that they’ve made a legal bet, compared with 28 percent in states where it’s legal. For older voters 65 and up, the difference is much smaller (7 percent versus 11 percent). Younger voters are also much more likely to say that the expansion of sports betting is a good idea.

“Younger people see drafts and betting as just a part of being a fan,” said Cassino. “It’s older people who worry about the sanctity of the game, and as time goes on, the younger fans are going to win out.”

People who have cast a sports bet in recent years are much more likely to say that expansion of betting is a good idea. Fully eighty-six percent of people who have made a legal bet in recent years say that legalizing sports betting is a good idea, compared with 40 percent of those who have not cast a bet.

Not surprisingly, the strongest supporters of expanding betting are people who live in states where sports betting is banned, but report having bet legally. Ninety-four percent of those who have made a sports wager but live in states where they’re not allowed to do so say that allowing bets is a good idea, compared to 44 percent of those who haven’t made a bet. However, in states where betting is allowed, they’re less likely to support legalization, with only 80 percent of bettors saying that it’s a good idea.

However, there are some worrying signs in the data about who is impacted most by the expansion of sports gambling. Black and African-American people are more likely to have cast a bet than white Americans (26 versus 11 percent). In general, non-white Americans are much more likely to have bet on sports than whites (22 percent versus 11 percent), and non-white Americans who live in states with fully legalized betting are disproportionately more likely to report having bet on sports.

In states where sports betting via app is legal, non-white Americans, especially Asian-Americans and African-American or Black respondents become much more likely to report having placed a bet, while the difference among White Americans is modest. In states where sports betting is not allowed, 11 percent of whites, 24 percent of African-American or Black respondents, and seven percent of Asian respondents report having bet on a team. But in states where it is fully legal to do so, forty percent of African-American or Black Americans say that they have cast a bet, alongside 34 percent of Asian respondents. That increase in sharp contrast with white Americans, for whom living in a state with legalized betting only leads to a seven-point increase in the number who have placed a wager.

“In states where betting is legal, there has been a constant barrage of ads, many of them targeting racial minorities,” said Cassino. “That may be good for casinos, but it means that the money may be coming from those who are less able to afford it.”

This difference does appear to be tied to race, rather than other differences between racial and ethnic groups. There is no such difference between people with various levels of education, or partisanship, and only small differences based on age, with fully legal betting having the smallest impact on those 65 and older, and bigger effects among younger people.

Methodology

The survey was conducted between April 24 and April 29, 2022, using a certified list of adult US residents nationwide. Respondents were randomly chosen from the list and contacted via either live-caller telephone interviews or text-to-web surveys sent to cellular phones, resulting in an overall sample of 1,021 respondents. 174 of the surveys were carried out via the TTW platform, 196 of the interviews were carried out via landline telephones, and the remainder (697) were done on cellular phones. Surveys were conducted only in English.

The data were weighted to be representative of the population of adult US residents, as of the 2020 US Census. The weights used, like all weights, balance the demographic characteristics of the sample to match known population parameters. The weighted results used here are balanced to match parameters for sex, age, education and race/ethnicity.

SPSSINC RAKE, an SPSS extension module that simultaneously balances the distributions of all variables using the GENLOG procedure, was used to produce final weights. Weights were trimmed to prevent individual interviews from having too much influence on the final results. The use of these weights in statistical analysis helps to ensure that the demographic characteristics of the sample approximate the demographic characteristics of the target population. The size of these weights is used to construct the measure of design effects, which indicate the extent to which the reported results are being driven by the weights applied to the data, rather than found in the data itself. Simply put, these design effects tell us how many additional respondents would have been needed to get the weighted number of respondents across weighted categories: larger design effects indicate greater levels of under-representation in the data. In this case, calculated design effects are approximately 1.25.

All surveys are subject to sampling error, which is the expected probable difference between interviewing everyone in a population versus a scientific sampling drawn from that population. Sampling error should be adjusted to recognize the effect of weighting the data to better match the population. In this poll, the simple sampling error for 1,021 registered voters is +/-3.1 percentage points, at a 95 percent confidence interval. Including the design effects, the margin of error would be +/-3.9 percentage points, though the figure not including them is much more commonly reported.

This error calculation does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as non-response, question-wording, differences in translated forms, or context effects. While such errors are known to exist, they are often unquantifiable within a particular survey, and all efforts, such as randomization and extensive pre-testing of items, have been used to minimize them.

Weighted Telephone Sample Characteristics

1,021 US Residents

Figures are weighted to overall voter characteristics from the US Census. Respondents who refused to answer a demographic item are not included.

 

Man                                

43%                 N = 440

Woman                            

54%                 N = 551

Some Other Way          

2%                  N = 17

 

18-30                          

26%                N = 265

31-44                          

31%                 N = 317

45-64                          

26%                 N = 269

65+                              

16%                 N = 161

 

Democrat (with leaners)             

45%                 N = 388

Independent                                 

16%                 N = 139

Republican (with leaners)          

38%                 N = 322

 

White                                           

50%                N = 515

Black                                              

14%                N = 143

Hispanic/Latino/a                                     

18%                N = 184

Asian                                       

7%                  N = 75

Other/Multi-racial                                    

8%                  N = 84

 

No college degree                      

53%                N = 541

College degree or more             

45%                N = 461 

Question Wording and Order

Switching gears a little, we’d like to ask you about legal sports betting.

G1. In recent years, several states have changed their laws to allow legal betting on sports. In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event through a casino, an app, or a website?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Don’t Know

G2. Supporters of sports gambling say that people are betting anyway, so you may as well regulate and tax it. Opponents say that it leads to more gambling addiction, or could increase corruption in sports. What do you think? Do you think allowing for legal betting on sporting events is a good idea or a bad idea?

  1. Good idea
  2. Bad idea
  3. Don’t know

  

Release Tables

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

All

Illegal

Retail Only

Legal

Yes

18%

15%

16%

24%

No

78%

83%

84%

70%

[Vol] DK/Ref

3%

2%

 

6%

 

Allowing for legal betting on sporting events…

 

All

Illegal

Retail Only

Legal

Good Idea

50%

50%

38%

52%

Bad Idea

31%

29%

46%

29%

[Vol] DK/Ref

19%

20%

17%

19%

 

Allowing for legal betting on sporting events…

 

All

Dems

Indp

Rep

Good Idea

50%

49%

43%

46%

Bad Idea

31%

38%

32%

40%

[Vol] DK/Ref

19%

13%

25%

15%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

All

Dems

Indp

Rep

Yes

18%

20%

13%

16%

No

78%

78%

84%

84%

[Vol] DK/Ref

3%

2%

3%

0%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

<=30

31 to 44

45 to 64

65+

Yes

22%

23%

8%

5%

No

74%

72%

91%

95%

[Vol] DK/Ref

4%

5%

0%

 

 

Allowing for legal betting on sporting events…

 

<=30

31 to 44

45 to 64

65+

Good Idea

50%

56%

41%

28%

Bad Idea

31%

23%

43%

60%

[Vol] DK/Ref

19%

20%

16%

12%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

<=30

 

65+

 

 

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

Yes

28%

17%

11%

7%

No

64%

82%

89%

93%

[Vol] DK/Ref

8%

1%

0%

0%

 

Allowing for legal betting on sporting events…

 

All

Have Bet

Have Not

DK

Good Idea

50%

86%

40%

10%

Bad Idea

31%

10%

42%

24%

[Vol] DK/Ref

19%

4%

18%

66%

 

Allowing for legal betting on sporting events…

 

Have Bet

 

Have Not Bet

 

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

Good Idea

80%

94%

46%

44%

Bad Idea

13%

3%

36%

34%

[Vol] DK/Ref

6%

3%

18%

23%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

White

 

Non-White

 

 

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

Yes

18%

11%

29%

19%

No

81%

88%

62%

78%

[Vol] DK/Ref

1%

1%

9%

3%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

African-American

 

Asian-American

 

Legal

Illegal

Legal

Illegal

Yes

40%

24%

34%

7%

No

58%

71%

51%

88%

[Vol] DK/Ref

2%

6%

14%

5%

 

In the past two years, have you made a bet on a sporting event?

 

White

Non-White

Af-Am

Asian

Yes

11%

22%

26%

18%

No

88%

73%

71%

74%

[Vol] DK/Ref

1%

5%

3%

8%