Sports gamblers are increasingly turning to legal online bookmakers instead of illegal operations, according to study released Tuesday by the American Gaming Association.
An online poll of 3,451 U.S. adults conducted in December and January found that the amounts spent with legal online and mobile betting operators went up 12 percent in 2019 in states where such wagering is legal. In those states, the amount spent with illegal bookies last year dropped 25 percent, per the survey.
Illegal offshore online sportsbooks also saw a 3 percent increase in handle last year among residents of states with legal sports gambling. Legal physical casino sportsbooks saw the amount of their wagers drop 10 percent.
Among bettors from states where sports gambling is illegal, offshore online sportsbooks had a big jump last year — 24 percent. Those same gamblers produced increases of 12 percent at physical casino sportsbooks and 8 percent at U.S. online sportsbooks. They had a 3 percent drop in bets with illegal bookies.
The AGA, which backed the study, is an industry association representing casino operators, suppliers of gambling products and state and regional gaming associations, among others.
AGA president and CEO Bill Miller said in a statement, “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.”
Among gamblers who shifted from illegal operators to legal operators, 25 percent cited confidence that their bets would be paid out as a reason.
According to the poll, 84 percent of those betting on illegal websites were surprised to learn that their choose of bookmaker wasn’t legal. The survey found that 48 percent of gamblers using illegal operators would change their behavior after finding out they were breaking the law.
“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers,” Miller said. “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.”
–Field Level Media (@FieldLevelMedia)