AGA Study Reveals US Bettors Favoring Legal Sportsbooks

  • AGA study reveals 12% increase in legal online and mobile betting in 2019
  • 25% decline in spend with illegal operators, survey statistics revealed
  • Confusion as 55% of bettors mistook illegal operators for legal entities
  • AGA CEO Miller believes bettor uncertainty exacerbated by COVID-19
USA flag on sports field
American bettors are increasingly moving away from illegal operators to their legal counterparts, a study by the AGA has revealed. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

12% increase in legal wagering

A survey by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has revealed North American bettors are favoring legal sportsbooks over illegal equivalents.

In states offering legal wagering in 2019, an increase of 12% was recorded in online and mobile spend with legal sportsbooks, with a 25% decline in the amount spent with illegal operators, the survey revealed.

25% decline in the amount spent with illegal operators

“We’ve known for a long time that Americans like to bet on sports,” said AGA president and CEO Bill Miller. “Giving consumers convenient alternatives to the illegal market, like regulated mobile offerings and competitive odds, is key for getting bettors to switch to legal channels,” he said.

Conducting this survey on behalf of the AGA, research-led consulting firm Heart + Mind harvested the statistics between December 2019 and January 2020, reportedly surveying 3,451 American adults from various subgroups over the age of 21.

Confusion reigns

While the study reported that 74% of the sample believed it was prudent to bet solely with legal operators, 52% nevertheless placed wagers within the illegal market.

Stating that “illegal sports betting is driven largely by confusion about online operators,” the research highlighted that 55% of bettors who placed most of their bets with illegal operators mistook them for legal entities.

odds on everything from […] shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive”

According to Miller, illegal operators are feeding off this confusion. The AGA CEO also expressed his opinion that bettor uncertainty was exacerbated by the COVID-19 shutdown. He said: “With unregulated bookmakers offering odds on everything from the weather and shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive the pandemic.”

Miller added that the AGA was on an education drive to enlighten customers to the dangers of illegal wagering and, conversely, how to bet legally, “especially with the return of the MLB and NBA this month.”

Payouts and PASPA

Confidence that bets would be paid out attracted 25% of the sample to shift from illegal to legal options, the survey observed. Other influential factors in the illegal-to-legal migration included cognizance of legal options (20%), and preference for using a regulated book (19%).

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the nationwide ban on sports betting under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was unconstitutional, Americans have legally wagered over $22bn on sports nationwide. As a result, the AGA report states that this has

generated upwards of $198 million in tax revenue to state and local governments.”

The total amount legally wagered is over double the $10bn figure the AGA recorded in August 2019.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, legal sports wagering is now accessible to 22.4 million more Americans, with Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Montana, and Washington, DC, being the latest states to ride the sportsbook regulation tsunami in 2020.

In the USA, 18 states including the District of Columbia, now offer legal, regulated sports betting. On its interactive gaming map, the AGA lists North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Washington as “poised to open legal markets in the coming months.”