New Poll Suggests Gold Mine For Leagues As Legal Sports Betting Expands

Surprise, surprise! A new poll from Bleacher Report illustrates that leagues stand to benefit from the proliferation of legal sports betting.
Gold nuggets

More good news for sports leagues concerned about damage from the expansion of legal sports betting in the U.S. comes from a poll just released by Bleacher Report.

It’s not surprising that 63 percent of respondents say that they would “pay more attention” to games they watch, or that 62 percent would “stay more up to date” on sports.

But the revenue opportunities come from 58 percent saying they would watch more games and 47 percent saying they would watch more different sports (hello, TV ratings), while a whopping 37 percent say they would attend more games (ticket sales!).

Even if only half of the respondents followed through on the latter goal, that’s a hefty influx of dollars for sports franchises. It also suggests that while younger sports fans in particular seemingly might be more inclined to simply bet on their smartphones and watch the game on that device, the excitement of placing a bet may make “being there” that much more alluring.

The poll found that 42 percent support legal sports betting while 26 percent opposed, reflecting other polls in recent years that have found growing backing of legalization.

That trend – which also has showed up in the past decade in support for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization – is being fueled by the literal replacement of elderly opponents with young adults whose attitudes on social issues is far different.

Is sports betting “socially acceptable?”

While 51 percent overall find sports betting to be “socially acceptable,” that figure rises to 63 percent when considering only sentiments of those age 21 to 34.

Of sports fans who say they are bettors as well, 69 percent are male – a figure that seems remarkably low to anyone who visits the FanDuel Sportsbook at the Meadowlands Racetrack, for example. At that site, women seem to be as rare as seven-team parlay payouts.

Again breaking down attitudes of sports fans, the poll found that 42 percent of millennials say they place bets versus 28 percent of those age 35-54 and just 13 percent of those 55 and up.

Legal sportsbooks in states such as Nevada and New Jersey presumably focus much effort on marketing to millennials, but this poll underscores the reasons.

The average bet size for those age 35 and up is $84, while the average bet by millennials is $116. Perhaps the most appealing result for sportsbooks is that 78 percent of millennials say they place bets after doing less than one hour of research.

Almost two-thirds of young gamblers expressed a willingness to pay full price for luxury brands, while 84 percent say they are more likely to be the first among their peers to tell them about new trends.

The segment of sports fans who bet on the games skews younger, more male, and wealthier than non-betting sports fans. And perhaps it’s some consolation to legal sports betting backers than the bettors skew heavily toward states that regulate it.

The most gambling-centric states

On that front, Nevada indexes to 162, followed by Delaware 146, New Mexico 140, Mississippi 138 and – surprisingly, last among the five states the poll analyzed – New Jersey at 137.

While legislatures across the country continue to debate whether to join the eight states that already offer legal sports betting, it’s worth noting that the poll finds that 43 percent of millennial sports fans who don’t currently gamble are interested in the idea. Since that age cohort is presumably aware of offshore gambling sites, the resistance might be from a desire to avoid any risk by betting legally instead – if given the opportunity.

While 66 percent of millennial sports fans in the poll say they currently bet, 82 percent of B/R app users say they do so. Bleacher Report also found that in the past year, the B/R sports betting app stream is growing three times as fast as the general B/R sports app.

The overall takeaway from this and other recent polls is that young adults are both more inclined to want to bet on sports, and more likely to prefer to make those bets on mobile phones. Legislation that includes only brick-and-mortar betting at sites such as casinos or racetracks is bound to severely limit new tax revenues.

New Jersey, of course, already has climbed to 79 percent of its total sports betting handle coming from mobile devices. The casinos and tracks share in that extra revenue while also adding some new dollars at their physical locations. That would seem to be the blueprint nationwide – eventually.

Just don’t be surprised if it takes a few years.


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