A Seton Hall sports poll released on Thursday finds that 46 percent of Americans support legalization of full-scale sports betting, while 42 percent disagree.
But that number varies strongly by age groups. Of respondents under 30 years old, 67 percent preferred the choice “It’s been said a lot of people bet on sporting events anyway, so government should allow it and tax it" rather than “It’s been said legal betting on sporting events is a bad idea because it promotes too much gambling and damages the integrity of sports.”
For ages 30-44, support dipped to 48 percent – then to 42 percent of those age 45-59 and to just 30 percent of those age 60+.
In 2010, a Fairleigh Dickinson University national poll showed 39 percent support and 54 percent opposition to legalizing sports betting.
“If younger people carry those beliefs forward, as they become lawmakers themselves, we could see a major shift in the legality of sports gambling,” said Rick Gentile, director of the poll, which is sponsored by The Sharkey Institute.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has made news over his support for federally-regulated sports betting. But in the Seton Hall poll, only 21 percent agreed while 70 percent believe it should be regulated on a state-by-state basis. Horse racing, dog racing, casinos, lottery and other forms of gambling are all regulated state-by-state. That 70 percent figure is nine points higher than the results that Seton Hall got on the question in Nov. 2014.
An interesting question – because it doesn’t necessarily parallel a respondent’s sentiments on sports betting – was whether Silver’s call for legalized, regulated betting was appropriate. Again, it depended on how old you are. The twentysomethings showed 56 percent support compared to 34 and 28 percent backing from the middle groups and only 21 percent from the seniors.
How about the New Jersey sports betting law that crops up so often on this blog? Good idea, say 61 percent of young people but only 50 percent, then 47 percent, then 33 percent of the next age groups.
Some of the sentiment of younger people may be shaped by the fact that 24 percent of them in the poll have played daily fantasy games compared to 15, then 11, then 6 percent of the older age groups.
Is daily fantasy a game of skill – so exempt from gambling laws – or is it gambling? Gambling, said 61 percent compared to 23 percent who picked skill.
Another question was about the quirky, 25-year-old federal law that maintained unfettered sports betting in Nevada and limited forms in Delaware, Montana, and Oregon but banned it in the other 46 states. Changing the law to allow those states to choose got 45 percent support, compared to 23 percent wanting to outlaw it in all 50 states and 18 percent saying to leave it as is.
Publishing point spreads in newspapers and online does encourage betting on the events, say 53 percent.
Have you ever gambled on a sporting event? Yes say 30 percent. No say 66 percent. A cagey 3 percent refuse to answer.
Of those who said no, 13 percent said they would gamble if it was legal and 8 percent say they don’t know.
Silver’s observation that “gambling has become a popular form of entertainment in the United States” got backing from 69 percent.
As a 34th-year Rotisserie baseball participant, this next one hurts: “Baseball spring training has just begun in Florida and Arizona. Do you plan on participating in a baseball fantasy league this season?”
Yes, said…. 2 percent.
This poll was conducted by telephone February 20-22 among 626 adults in the United States. The Seton Hall Sports Poll is conducted by the Sharkey Institute.
Phone numbers were dialed from samples of both standard landline and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus 3.4 percentage points. The error for subgroups may be higher. This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
The Seton Hall Sports Poll has been conducted regularly since 2006.