Poll: Approximately 80% Of Americans Support Legalized Sports Betting


Approximately 80% of Americans support legalized sports betting, according to a recent poll conducted by the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall University.

Fifty-five percent of the public supports the legalization on state-by-state basis, plus an additional 25 percent say it should be legal in all states. Only 16 percent opined that it should not not legal.  By comparison, only 40% of respondents supported a state-by-state process in Seton Hall’s poll conducted 18 months ago.

The results represent a considerable uptick from the April 2018 Seton Hall poll when the public overall supported legalized sports gambling at a 55% to 35% margin (when 10% had no opinion).

Support grows for legal sports betting

Prior to last year’s PASPA decision by the Supreme Court, just 46% of respondents felt that legalized sports betting should be allowed, according to a February 2017 poll conducted by the school.

“Public acceptance of legalized betting on sports is moving at a rapid pace, likely tied to court approval,” said Rick Gentile, director of the Seton Hall Sports Poll, which is sponsored by the Sharkey Institute within the Stillman School of Business at Seton Hall.

‘Home State’ school betting exclusion

Within the poll, respondents were asked whether a prohibition on placing wagers on universities located inside state lines should remain in place. During the 2019 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament, New Jersey bettors were unable to wager on Seton Hall and Farleigh Dickinson – two New Jersey schools that qualified for the field of 68.

While 38% of respondents support the ban, an overwhelming 58% of the public oppose the prohibition. In addition, approximately 10% of respondents did not have an opinion or did not have an answer to the question. The ban applies to contests played at home and away locations outside New Jersey, along with neutral sites for bowl games.

Earlier this week, St. Joseph’s University (Pa.) outlined an interim policy that restricts students, faculty, staff, contractors, and members of the Board of Trustees from placing “an otherwise legal sports wager on any team, contest or event, or individual affiliated with the school’s athletics department.” The Board of Trustees at Purdue University, an Indiana public school, followed by enacting a similar policy on Thursday. The policy applies to online and mobile wagers, as well as in-person betting.

In May, a panel of three NCAA staff members, including NCAA Vice President of Hearing Operations Naima Stevenson Starks, expressed concern at the propensity of some Division I athletes to engage in sports gambling at abnormally high rates. The panel cited a 2016 study which found that 18.2 percent of men’s golfers placed at least one sports bet a month.

Distinction between college and pro wagering

Among poll respondents, 44% of the public believe that legalized sports betting should include wagering on both pro and college sports. There was considerable variance among various demographics. Although 69% of respondents in the 18-29 age group favored legalized sports betting for pro and college sports events, only 23% of the public at ages 60 and over support it.

For last week’s poll, 714 adult Americans were surveyed on mobile phones and landlines. The poll has a margin of error of  +/-3.8, according to the Stillman School of Business. The poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 2, the school said in a statement.

The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.


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