Fairleigh Dickinson University’s (FDU) new poll regarding the expansion of sports betting has produced some interesting results. While divides by race and age seem to be growing larger, political affiliation appears to be losing influence.
The poll, which featured 1,021 total respondents from around the U.S., asked two yes-or-no questions: whether the respondent had made a sports bet of any kind in the last two years, and whether they thought that the legalization of sports betting was generally a good or bad idea.
Sports betting expansion has become one of the biggest considerations for voters ever since 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a federal law that barred sports betting in most states.
As the industry continues to expand and evolve, research regarding the impact of legalization remains somewhat sparse, and the recent poll is a much-needed glimpse into what the future could hold for both bettors and operators alike.
The Race Divide
Perhaps the most noticeable disparity in FDU’s data is the frequency in which racial demographics place sports bets–according to the poll, only 11 percent of white respondents reported betting on sports, compared to 26 percent and 18 percent of black and Asian respondents, respectively.
Overall, non-white groups were exactly twice as likely to bet on sports than white respondents (22 percent to 11 percent).
“Polling does help to inform us to some issues that we may need to think about that we didn’t think about before,” said Donald Hoover, associate director of enrollment at FDU’s School of Hospitality, Sports, and Tourism Management.
“I think that it just tells a little bit of a story, and if it can help companies and inform some of their internal decisions, and maybe even help on the ‘KYC’ part of it and their pledge to their customers, then I think it’s helpful.”
Problem gambling and its effects on minority populations is still somewhat of a gray area, according to the National Center for Responsible Gaming, “ethnic and racial minorities have higher rates of gambling problems than the adult general population,” but this has only been indicated by “preliminary research.”
Resurgence of Youth
The other glaring discrepancy in the recent poll indicates that sports betting is becoming increasingly popular with younger crowds. 23 percent of respondents under 45 years old reported placing a sports bet compared to just 9 percent of those over the age of 45.
Additionally, 50 percent of those under the age of 30 were in favor of sports betting legalization, compared to 28 percent of respondents aged 65 or older.
“For the younger demographic—30 and under—it’s just part of their life,” said Hoover. “They don’t think that much about, ‘Oh, this game is rigged,’ they may not even know the history of sports betting and about the legalization of sports wagering in general. And I think they’re not as informed about it, and frankly, they don’t care.”
Hoover said that the usability and accessibility of mobile apps has made it easier for younger demographics to begin betting, and it’s also made it easier for gaming companies to collect data and target certain behaviors.
“On the retail side, you really don’t know your customers well, especially on the sports betting side, they just walk up to the window, they’re paying cash,” said Hoover. “But on the apps, it’s much easier to control and understand your customer.”
Interestingly enough, political affiliation was one of, if not the closest margin in the entire poll. 49 percent of Democratic respondents were in favor of sports betting legalization, with their Republican counterparts not far behind at 46 percent. Those who identified as independents were also over 40 percent in favor of expansion.
Hoover said that he was very surprised that the data surrounding politics was “right down the middle.”
“There are probably more people now, regardless of politics, that understand that [betting] is going to happen whether it’s legal or not,” said Hoover. “At least if it’s legalized, there can be some form of control over the situation.”
According to the American Gaming Association, 40 states and the District of Columbia currently have existing or proposed sports betting legislation, and the recent data could be an indication of bipartisan support going forward.
“We try to pick out the things that are lopsided,” said Hoover. “But that really stood out by not standing out.”