• Online Gambling
  • Should Sports Betting Be Legal? The Majority of Americans Say 'Yes'
UG Survey Article Banner Wide Version
Article

Should Sports Betting Be Legal? The Majority of Americans Say 'Yes'

11 April 2022

We take a look at whether or not sports betting should be legal in the eyes of Americans, as well as how public opinion on sports betting has evolved over the last two years by comparing identical surveys conducted in 2020 and 2022.

Sports Betting Research

Sports betting in the United States has seen a dramatic polar shift in recent years, with what was once considered a taboo becoming today's mania. Given the massive shift in popularity and legality, we here at UnitedGamblers wanted to get a more detailed understanding of the American public's opinion on the topic.

This led us to conduct a research survey back in 2020 to better gauge how the American public viewed sports betting. Given the major developments in the sports betting industry since then, we only saw it fitting to revisit our original survey two years on and ask 700 Americans about their opinions and behaviors regarding sports betting.

With that said, let's dive into our findings on how the public's opinion on sports betting has changed since 2020.

Should Sports Betting Be Legal?

In a not-so-surprising turn of events, the majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing sports betting in their states.

Back in 2020, when asked, "Are you in favor of the legalization of online sports betting?", 47.20 percent of respondents answered 'Yes', with the second most common answer being 'Undecided' at 35.00 percent, followed by 15.60 percent answering 'No'. 2.20 percent reported not having an opinion on the matter.

When you compare these results to our recent 2022 survey it's clear to see that public support for sports betting has dramatically increased in the last two years.

When asked the same question in 2022, our 700 respondents answered as follows, 57.77 percent of respondents answered 'Yes', with the second most common answer still being 'Undecided' at 24.11 percent, again followed by 18.12 percent answering 'No'.

What's more fascinating is that when asked if they would support legalizing sports betting in their state if the tax income went to a public benefit, about 30 percent of those who originally replied 'No' or 'Undecided' changed their response to 'Yes.'

UG Survey Article Percent in Favor

Is sports betting morally acceptable?

That depends on who you ask, but according to our previous survey results, 41.00 percent of American adults believed sports betting was morally acceptable in 2020.

When Americans were asked the same question two years later, it was clear that more Americans believed sports betting to be morally acceptable, with 48.22 percent of Americans answering 'Yes' in our 2022 survey.

UG Survey Article Morally Acceptable

What does this mean for legal sports betting?

The main takeaway from these results is that over the last two years, the percentage of Americans that support the legalization of sports betting has increased by roughly 10 percent to 57.77 percent, meaning the majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing sports betting. The relatively drastic decrease in the number of people that answered 'Undecided' reflects the increased awareness of legal sports betting in the general public, as more people now have a defined opinion on whether sports betting should be legal or not when compared to just two years ago. Based on the results from our two surveys, the vast majority of people who were previously undecided have now shifted to a 'pro-sports betting' stance, while a small minority have decided to not support legal sports betting.

As public support for legal sports betting increases, it's even more likely that sports betting will continue to be legalized in more and more states in the coming future.

How Many Americans Intend to Bet on Sports?

Supporting the legalization (and ultimately the taxation) of sports betting is one thing, but intending on actually betting is another thing.

When we reviewed the findings of our most recent survey, we discovered that the majority of Americans are not only in favor of legalizing sports betting but that the majority of our respondents do intend to bet on sports themselves.

2 out of 3 American adults are at least 'somewhat likely' to bet on sports.

If sports betting were allowed in their state, 51.64 percent of respondents indicated they would be 'likely', 'very likely', or 'definitely would' bet on sports. Another 14.55 percent said they would be 'somewhat likely', bringing the total number of Americans that are at least somewhat likely to wager on sports to 66.19 percent.

UG Survey Article How likely to bet

With the number of Americans wagering on sports rapidly increasing, it's not hard to see why many are referring to the legal sports betting movement taking place in the US as the '21st-century gold rush'.

How many people bet on sports?

Based on results from our most recent survey conducted in 2022, 39.23 percent of Americans have placed a legal bet online since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted in 2018.

Our survey conducted back in 2020 showed that only 13.8 percent of Americans placed a legal bet online between the federal ban on sports betting being lifted in 2018 and our first survey being conducted in 2020.

As you can see, our most recent survey has produced some interesting results that depict a notable increase in the number of adults that have placed a legal bet online since the federal ban on sports betting was lifted. The percentage of Americans that have placed a legal bet online since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was overturned has risen from 13.8 percent in 2020 to 39.23 percent in 2022.

UG Survey Article Percent that has bet

The increase in the percentage of Americans that have placed a legal bet online can be attributed to various factors, however, none are as significant as state legality/availability being the most influential reason.

How much gambling is too much?

Everyone has a different threshold on what exactly constitutes "too much gambling", however, a general rule of thumb is that you should only gamble what you can afford to lose, and it should never take up your time that should be dedicated to more important things such as your work or any other normal obligations in your life.

How often do people bet on sports?

For Americans that do already bet on sports, the frequency of how often they bet on sports hasn't experienced much variance over the last two years.

In 2020, 69.47 percent of American sports bettors reported that they bet at least once a month. Comparing that with our 2022 results, you see a slight decrease to 67.38 percent of American sports bettors reporting that they bet at least once a month. Overall, the variance is quite minimal and it's safe to speculate that as more people casually bet solely on larger, in-frequent events such as the Super Bowl, it's not surprising to see a minor decrease in the average frequency.

One notable increase in frequency in 2022 compared to 2020 was the number of bettors placing wagers on a daily basis. In 2020, 17.39 percent of bettors reported betting on a daily basis versus 22.55 percent of bettors placing daily wagers in 2022.

UG Survey Article Frequency

What is the most popular online sportsbook?

As sports betting has not-so-silently crept into mainstream media, the average American is now far more familiar with sports betting brands than compared to two years ago.

Through an influx of TV advertisements during popular sporting events, conspicuous sponsorships, social media posts, and good old word of mouth, sports betting brands are making their ever-growing presence felt, heard, and seen.

DraftKings Sportsbook is currently the most widely recognized sports betting operator, with 50.5 percent of American adults being familiar with the brand. Brand awareness of DraftKings Sportsbook is up from 43.8 percent in 2020.

1 out of 2 American adults are familiar with DraftKings Sportsbook

The second biggest sports betting brand in the US is FanDuel Sportsbook, with 42.8 percent of American adults being familiar with the betting brand. FanDuel Sportsbook's brand awareness is up from 40.8 percent in 2020, rising 2 percent over the course of the last two years.

There is a significant drop-off in terms of brand recognition for the next three most recognized betting operators, with 25.96 percent of Americans being aware of the BetMGM brand, 25.11 percent of Americans being aware of Caesars Sportsbook, and 23.68% of Americans recognizing the FOX Bet brand.

Unsurprisingly, these brands run the most aggressive marketing campaigns and it's not rare to see these brands advertised on national television and other popular mediums.

UG Survey Article Sportsbook Familiarity

Why do people bet on sports?

Now that Americans are betting on sports at a record-breaking pace and volume, we wanted to know what the primary factors that drive Americans to bet on sports are, and how those factors have changed over the last two years.

For comparison's sake, here are the survey results from 2020:

  • For Entertainment - 63.77%
  • To make money - 62.32%
  • For social reasons - 13.04%
  • Other - 0%

Here are the survey results from 2022 (and their percentage change compared to 2021):

  • For entertainment - 63.27% (-0.50%)
  • To make money - 59.27% (-3.05%)
  • For social reasons - 35.27% (+22.23%)
  • Other - 8.36% (+8.36%)

The most interesting takeaway from this is the 22.23% increase in 'social reasons' as a primary factor for why people bet on sports. Clearly, entertainment and the ability to earn money are still the most motivating factors leading Americans to bet on sports, but it's quite fascinating to see the way sports betting is becoming another way for Americans to socialize.

UG Survey Article Primary Reasons

Sports Betting Trends

The results of our most recent survey, conducted in early 2022, have shown some fascinating trends in regard to sports betting in the USA. Based on our survey results, there is an undeniable increase in the demand for and acceptance of sports betting in the United States compared to just two years ago.

Key takeaways

  • 57.77 percent of Americans are now in favor of legalizing sports betting, up from 47.20 percent in 2020.
  • 48.22 percent of Americans now believe sports betting is morally acceptable, up from 41.00 percent in 2020.
  • 66.19 percent of American adults are at least 'somewhat likely' to bet on sports.
  • 39.23 percent of American adults have placed a bet online since 2018, up from 13.80 percent in 2020.
  • Brand awareness is up across the board, yet DraftKings Sportsbook & FanDuel Sportsbook remain the most recognized brands by far.
  • 'Social reasons' is the fastest growing category of why Americans bet on sports.

Looking ahead at sports betting in the US

Sports betting is getting increasingly popular, and it is well on its way to becoming another vertical of American sports entertainment that is largely accepted by the general public and is no longer regarded as a taboo pastime. With the annual gross revenue generated by sports betting in the US expected to hit $12.1 billion to $17.7 billion in total by 2025, according to VIXIO GamblingCompliance, there are no signs that sports betting in the United States is slowing down anytime soon.

About our surveys

2020 Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted in February 2020, using Pollfish.

  • The number of respondents was 500.
  • 100% were Americans between 21-65 years old.
  • 57% of respondents were female.
  • 43% of respondents were male.
  • The margin of error for a survey of this sample size is 4%.
2022 Survey Demographics

The survey was conducted in March 2022, using Pollfish.

  • The number of respondents was 701.
  • 100% were Americans between 21-65 years old.
  • 53% of respondents were female.
  • 47% of respondents were male.
  • The margin of error for a survey of this sample size is 4%.