More than half of the nation’s states have legalized sports betting in some form over the last few years, but the mix of new regulations and promotion hasn’t changed how most feel about the polarizing issue.
That’s according to a new survey report conducted by the Arizona State University’s Global Sport Institute. The report, which included 2,400 participants over the course of this month, showed that 44% of respondents supported the ability to place bets at games while only 16% opposed.
The remaining 40% of respondents said they were indifferent or unsure.
The same report found 62% of respondents don’t participate in sports betting, essentially not affected by the latest developments across the ecosystem. Scott Brooks, Global Sport Institute’s director of research, believes it shows a distinct difference between being open to legalization and participating.
“This doesn’t seem to be making a big change at the moment,” Brooks said. “People are pretty stuck with their ideas of betting, whether that’s a good thing or not, particularly if they’re willing to bet.”
Despite the rise of advertising for legal sports betting nationwide, 43% of respondents said that they had not been exposed to ads promoting gambling on TV or anywhere else, with 13% unsure. About 22% of respondents said that would feel more likely to bet after experiencing an ad from a gambling company.
The data show many remain ambivalent about the issue which became more mainstream after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibited sports gambling in 2018. Since then, pro sports teams—and recently college programs—have partnered with sports betting companies in a move that not only provides extra sponsorship revenue but potentially increases fan engagement in the process.
There are 30 states that have some form of legalized sports betting, and 18 of them have operational in mobile sports betting, according to Forbes. Despite the increase of mobile sports betting, the report showed that betting in-person remains the most preferred way to wager (49%). While there’s a growing number of avenues to place bets, with more states legalizing, 79% of respondents said it largely had no affect on their opinion or the way they view sports.
Brooks believes how people feel about the ethics of sports betting factored into responses. While there’s been an increase of promotion for wagering, there’s also been more awareness around gambling addiction, associated crime and other potential drawbacks. The NFL, which partnered with three prominent sportsbooks last year, recently aired its first public service announcement to promote responsible gaming.
“It’s going to take those take those kinds of efforts to at least suggest that this isn’t all about the money,” Brooks added. “You have real skeptics that are saying this is all about making money for someone else. That’s a huge gap to cover.”
Other findings of note: The report shows that higher-earning men ages 34-54 (54%) are most in favor, while men older than 65 oppose sports betting most (31%). Hispanic and blacks viewed sports betting more favorably compared to whites and non-Hispanics, with increases of 16% and 18% respectively.