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AGA Study Reveals Current US Legal Betting Landscape

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has released its findings from a recent study looking at player behaviors in the US states where sports betting is legal. 

General attitudes towards regulated operators were positive, with most players saying that they would rather bet with said companies. 

However, there were also signs that further education is required; many players unknowingly bet on unregulated sites, thinking that they were legal. 

The release of the AGA’s findings follows on from a June study by Gallup which showed improving attitudes towards gambling in the US. 

Players would rather bet with regulated operators 

The AGA’s research, which was carried out across December 2019 and January 2020, involved 3,451 American adults aged 21 or over.

Channelization appears to be working in the US. According to the association’s findings, players’ average spending with unregulated operators was 25% lower in 2019 than it had been the year before. Meanwhile, betting spend on legal mobile apps and online sites rose by 12% year-on-year. 

Of the players who decided to stop wagering with unregulated operators, 25% cited confidence that their winnings would be paid out as a reason for doing so. 20% said they did so because they were more aware of legal options, and 19% stated that they just desired to bet with a licensed operator. 

Players also demonstrated unfavorable opinions of unregulated operators full-stop. 74% of research participants said that it was important to bet only via legal means. 

Since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) was repealed by the Supreme Court in 2018, players in the US have bet over $22 million on sports with regulated operators. 

Education on the legal US betting market is going to be increasingly important 

Despite the overall positive trends that showed illegal operators being shut out of the market more than they previously were, cracks still appeared. For example, 52% of players that were interviewed bet with an unregulated operator in 2019. Of these, 55% were unaware that they had done so and thought their activity was legal. As such, confusion still appears to be an issue. 

In the states that have legalized wagering on sports, unregulated offshore operators also received a 3% rise in activity. 

Since mid-March, four US jurisdictions have gone live with their sports betting markets. These are Illinois, Michigan, Washington D.C. and Montana. Thus, the vertical has now opened up to an extra 22.4 million adults across the country. 

AGA President & Chief Executive Bill Miller spoke about the findings, as well as the need to keep offshore operators at bay. He said the following. 

“We’ve known for a long time that Americans like to bet on sports. This research affirms their interest in moving toward the protections of the legal market.

“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.

“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers. This only worsened during the sports shutdown, with unregulated bookmakers offering odds on everything from the weather and shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive the pandemic. 

“The AGA is focused on educating customers on how to wager legally and the dangers of the illegal market, especially with the return of the MLB and NBA this month.”

US betting looked upon more positively than before

Last month, Gallup revealed that attitudes towards gambling in the US were at an all-time high since it started asking about this 16 years ago. 

69% of Americans said that the activity is morally acceptable. This was 4% up from 65% last year and 11% higher than the all-time low of 58% in 2009. 

A higher level of education tended to correlate with a more tolerant opinion of gambling, as did a higher socio-economic status. Other factors, such as race, political stance, region of residence and religion also played a role. 

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