US bettors eager to switch to legal sportsbooks

15 August 2018

Almost three quarters of US punters would switch their betting activity to a regulated operator if given the opportunity.

Three months since the repeal of PASPA, a new Nielsen Sports survey, commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA), shows that the vast majority of those currently betting illegally would seek licensed operators given the chance. Sports betting has already been introduced in New Jersey, Delaware and Mississippi since the Supreme Court’s PASPA ruling, with West Virginia, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania set to follow in the coming months. 

According to Nielsen Sports, 44% of sports bettors are adults under the age of 35, as opposed to 31% of the general population. Some 29% percent of bettors earn a household income of more than $100,000, almost double the proportion of the general population.

It also found that 38% of existing bettors would completely switch to legal methods if they had the chance, will 33% would do so in part. Some 29% would not change their bookie regardless of legal alternatives.

"The Nielsen Sports data supports what we've long expected: access to legal sports wagering will increase fan engagement in major sport contests and enable a significant revenue generation opportunity for major sports leagues and teams," said Sara Slane, senior vice-president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association.

“Expanding access to legal sports betting will bring millennial audiences back to sports broadcasts and stadiums, which is a huge benefit for sport enterprises across the country.

“However, this potential will only be realised with proper policy frameworks that empower consumers with competitive odds, access to all bets and the ability to tap into modern platforms including mobile. Without this focus on consumers, the illegal market will continue to thrive.”

Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1,000 adult sports fans – including fans of the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL – and self-identified sports bettors nationwide, identifying demographics and consumption habits to quantify the value of the legal sports betting market.

In data that is food for thought for the sports leagues, the AGA discovered that bettors tend to be younger, more affluent and better educated than average fans. Some 62% of NFL fans who are bettors went to college and 31% earn more than $100,000, compared to figures of 58% and 23% of non-betting fans.

Among NBA fans, 54% of bettors are aged between 18-34 while 30% earn more than $100,000 compared to 40% and 26% among non-betting fans. The NBA last month signed up MGM Resorts as its official betting partner. 

Image: Erin Khoo