Study: Healthy Competition In Legal Sports Betting Markets Could Impact Illegal Ones

Posted By Kim Yuhl on August 24, 2018 - Last Updated on February 8, 2021

There is a lot of speculation about the impact of NJ sports betting after the overturning of PASPA. Estimates of how big the market will be are wide-ranging. And the same goes for the US sports betting market as a whole.

To help understand the potential of the legal sports betting market in the US, the American Gaming Association (AGA) commissioned a study from Nielsen Sports.

The survey of 1,032 adults, all over 18 years of age, is representative of gender, geography, and ethnicity in the US. It also included fans of the major sports leagues and sports bettors and non-bettors.

Some top line statistics from the study include:

  • 44 percent of sports bettors are under the age of 35
  • 29 percent of bettors earn more than $100,000
  • 71 percent of bettors would move some or all of their activity to a regulated market if there were access

Legal sports betting vs illegal markets

Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the AGA, commented on the findings:

“Expanding access to legal sports betting will bring millennial audiences back to sports broadcasts and stadiums, which is a huge benefit for sport enterprises across the country.

“However, this potential will only be realized with proper policy frameworks that empower consumers with competitive odds, access to all bets and the ability to tap into modern platforms including mobile. Without this focus on consumers, the illegal market will continue to thrive.”

That statement packs a lot of punch. Yes, a regulated market has the power to lure sports bettors to legalized sports betting. It also says bettors won’t come without competitive offerings.

Case in point is DraftKings Sportsbook. The daily fantasy sports leader launched New Jersey’s first mobile sports betting app. Until recently, it was the only operator in the market.

There has been a lot of discussion about what bettors consider unfavorable odds offered through DraftKings. The sentiment out there is that bettors would stay away until the odds become more favorable than they currently are.

Now that DraftKings is getting some competition, a competitive market will help the process.

It is fair to say bettors — and specifically, well-informed bettors — will demand competitive odds or they will go elsewhere, legal or otherwise.

The NFL’s potential thanks to sports betting

According to the study, 19 percent of current NFL fans consider themselves either a casual or avid sports bettor. Now that sports betting is legal, that number is projected to climb to 31 percent, good for a 60 percent increase in sports bettors for the league.

The remaining three leagues will also enjoy a double-digit increase in bettors with access to a legal sports betting market:

  • MLB: 55 percent
  • NBA: 24 percent
  • NHL: 24 percent

Overall, sports bettors tend to be younger, better educated, more affluent and more diverse.

In fact, in all four leagues, the most considerable growth is likely to come from Hispanic, Latino, and Spanish bettors.

Sports betting and game engagement goes hand in hand. It is a common assumption that an increase in sports betting has a direct correlation to engagement and vice versa.

Shane talked about the data that supports that assumption:

“The Nielsen Sports data supports what we’ve long expected: access to legal sports wagering will increase fan engagement in major sport contests and enable a significant revenue generation opportunity for major sports leagues and teams.”

More data to come

The study compiles data that provides a detailed look at the behavioral characteristics of self-identified sports bettors.

The nascent sports betting market is growing daily. In fact, Mississippi recently joined New Jersey and Delaware in the regulated sports betting market, and West Virginia is lining up to follow suit.

The information will be beneficial as more markets open and more companies come online.

Now that the AGA understands more about sports betting behaviors in a legal sports betting market, it will tackle revenue estimates.

The next phase of the study is currently underway. It will attempt to put a number to the expected wagers from “widely-available, legal, regulated sports betting.” Because in the end, it always boils down to the money.

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Kim Yuhl

Kim Yuhl has been covering the US online gambling market since 2013. Her work is featured on various sites and covers sports betting, online casino gambling, and online poker. Kim is a full-time traveler and vlogger and is currently slow traveling to 60 countries. You can follow her travels at and on YouTube at kimandway.

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