The People Say Legalize It: Americans Want To Bet On The Super Bowl…Badly

The American Gaming Association (AGA), one week before Super Bowl 50, put out the results of a survey it commissioned. The study, carried out by Mellman Research Group, provides hard evidence supporting a truth most of us could have guessed – Americans wish they could place Super Bowl 50 bets.

The survey results show that the significant majority of Americans want to see sports betting laws change within their respective states. The study also concluded that two-thirds of Americans believe it should be up to the individual states to decide whether sports betting should be legal.

The Mellman Group survey points out several key points on how Americans feel about sports betting:

  • Legalized sports betting would protect the integrity of the games.
  • Seventy-two percent of Super Bowl viewers polled believe sports betting would both benefit communities and enhance consumer safety.
  • Sixty-two percent of people polled believe sports betting would increase both enjoyment of and engagement in sports among fans.

Mark Mellman, head of the research group, made a statement in the press announcement released by the AGA:

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

What does the future hold for New Jersey sports betting?

Attorneys for the state of New Jersey are preparing for an appeals court hearing where a judge will deliberate whether the Garden State can legally offer sports betting to its citizens. The Professional and Amateur Sports Act of 1992 or PASPA made sports betting illegal in nearly all 50 states.

However, some states did receive exemptions from PASPA. Delaware, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon all maintained the right to decide whether or not to offer sports betting. None of the exempt states take full advantage of the federal exemption besides Nevada. Limited wagering options exist in Delaware, and a lottery-run system exists in Montana.

In 2014, a referendum for the legalization of sports betting was passed in New Jersey, receiving the required two-thirds majority. The referendum passed, but the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and most major sports leagues spoke out against the newly passed NJ bill. Once the case went to the federal level, the court system sided with the sports associations.

Despite significant setbacks in the court system, including an appeals loss in August, 2015, NJ has decided to continue appealing the federal judge’s ruling. On February 17, the case will be reheard in Philadelphia federal court.

Sports betting conversation attracting attention

The AGA has stated that over $4.2 billion will be illegally wagered on the Super Bowl this year. Comparing this figure to the total amount of legally placed bets from last year’s Super Bowl is quite depressing for sportsbooks and tax collectors.

A new AGA ad campaign on Twitter revolves around the federal courts lifting their ban on sports betting, hoping to spark conversation among lawmakers and citizens during this annual period of heightened interest in wagering.

Las Vegas sportsbooks saw $115.98 million wagered on Super Bowl 49, and the AGA estimates the numbers for legally placed bets will be similar this year. The AGA points out that the legality of sports betting has not stopped Americans from participating, and wastes no opportunities to bring up the massive amount of tax revenues not being collected.

About the Author

Rudee Rossignol

Las Vegas-based Rudee writes about a variety of topics, all surrounding regulated U.S. online gambling. A longtime poker player, she offers an on-the-ground take on Internet gaming matters.