AGA Says That Eighty Percent of Super Bowl Viewers Support Legal Sports Betting

Posted on: February 4, 2016, 04:52h. 

Last updated on: February 4, 2016, 04:53h.

Superbowl regulated sports betting
New research suggests that Super Bowl fans want to put their money where their mouths are. (Image:

Eighty percent of Americans who plan to tune into the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos at Super Bowl 50 this weekend wish they could bet on it legally, too. That’s according to a survey conducted on behalf of the American Gaming Association (AGA) by the Meltham Group.

Sixty-six percent of those questioned also said individual states should have the right to legalize sports betting.

The AGA likes to use the media storm surrounding the Super Bowl to hammer home its point. Last year, just before Super Bowl 49, it cited research that suggested Americans were likely to bet $3.8 billion illegally on the game. And that was a conservative estimate, the lobbying group said.

Bet Like It’s 1999

Those figures were based on a 1999 report by the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which concluded that some $80 billion to $380 billion was spent each year on illegal sports betting.

AGA then took the most conservative estimate, $80 billion, and compared it with the total amount bet in Las Vegas sports books in 1999, before applying it proportionately to the amount wagered on the Super Bowl in Nevada the previous year.

It was the first time that the AGA had attempted to estimate the amount of illegal betting on a single sporting event.

41 Percent Have Bet on Super Bowl

The trade association’s point is undeniable. Most American Super Bowl fans want to bet on the game, and they want to do it legally. A certain portion of them will bet on it anyway, because they have no legal option available.

The Meltham Group survey, which interviewed 800 Super Bowl viewers between January 25th and 28th, found that 41 percent of respondents said they had bet on the Super Bowl at some point, the same percentage that said they had placed some kind of sports bet in the past year.

This year, the AGA believes that the amount wagered by Americans on the illegal market will rise, to $4.1 billion, a figure that dwarfs the $100 million expected to be handled by the legal Nevada sports books.      

Nevada is the only state in the US that operates full-scale regulated sports betting, although a limited version is also found in Delaware racetracks. Oregon and Montana are also free to license sports books, but choose not to do so.

Elsewhere states are bound by the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992, which effectively prohibits sports betting nationwide.  

Change Needed

“This first-of-its-kind poll shows clear support among Super Bowl viewers for a state-by-state regulatory approach to sports betting,” said Mark Mellman of the Mellman Group. “If the public had its way, public policy would change.”

Speaking at the recent Global Gaming Expo, AGA President Geoff Freeman emphasized that illegal gambling was not a victimless crime. He said it provides funds for organized crime, which can then be plowed into other illegal enterprises.

Freeman implied this week that the NFL’s long-standing stance against legally regulated sports betting is misguided.  

“Fans believe regulated sports betting enhances the game experience, deepens their engagement with their favorite athletes and teams and protects the integrity of games,” he said.