AGA Survey Says Nearly 75 Percent of Sports Fans Support Federal Legalization of Sports Betting

Anecdotal evidence showing that Americans oppose a blanket ban on sports betting has accumulated in recent years, but a recent survey commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA) provided conclusive data.

The mixed-mode survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of the AGA – the largest lobby organization working on behalf of the casino and sportsbook industries – in late January of this year. In total, a main sample of 1,200 adults was polled by phone, along with an oversample of 400 “avid sports fans” who were polled online.

The survey framed its questions around the concept of sports betting legalization, which it defined as repealing the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992, and allowing individual states to authorize their own regulated sports betting industry.

In an April 24 report entitled “Legalizing Sports Betting: A Winning Wager,” the research firm informed the AGA that 72 percent of avid sports fans support legalization – putting frequent sports viewers at the top in terms of groups polled.

Avid sports fans were defined as those who self-reported a higher frequency of game viewership and/or attendance, along with other factors like regular purchases of memorabilia.

Casual sports fans support legalization by a 54 percent to 36 percent margin, and even respondents who identified as non-sports fans support overturning PAPSA at a 45 percent to 42 percent clip.

Overall, 55 percent of average Americans support legalization, while 35 percent prefer PAPSA’s status quo, and 10 percent consider themselves to be undecided on the issue.

In the report’s introductory section, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research provided a concise appraisal of the survey’s sum results:

“Support for expanded sports betting has gained traction in recent years in the legal system and among key stakeholders including league officials and elected officials.

A national survey of American adults confirms that this momentum extends to the public as well: by a 20-point margin, Americans support changing PAPSA to allow individual states to decide whether or not to legalize sports betting in their own state.

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.”

The survey revealed several demographical divergences between various groups, such as a wide gap between the support of men (65 percent) and women (46 percent).

In terms of age, 62 percent of respondents under the age of 50 support legalization, while only 47 percent of those 50 and up held the same view.

Youth isn’t a surefire predictor of sports betting support, however, as the highest level of favorability came from the 30-39 age group at 65 percent, just beating out the 40-49 demographic at 62 percent.

On the other hand, senior citizens aged 65 and up expressed the strongest level of opposition to legal sportsbooks at 45 percent.

In fact, the 18-29 demographic was third among the five age tiers, with 59 percent of teens and twenty-somethings supporting legalization.

Predictably, religious preferences played a major role in respondents’ views on the issue. Forty-four percent of those who reported “regular religious activity” oppose legalization – second only to senior citizens. Even so, 46 percent of the regular religion demographic came out in support of legalization, once again showing that PAPSA’s popularity has waned considerably even among ostensible allies.

When asked if they would begin betting on sports should their state legalize the industry, 12 percent of Americans reported that they’d be “more than likely” to place wagers in the future.

That figure equates to 28 million American adults potentially visiting legal sportsbooks in the event of a PAPSA repeal.