The situation surrounding sports betting in the United States is arguably one of the most prominent examples of the need for clear, defined gambling regulation in a modern economy. For a variety of reasons, the picture stateside remains complex, with operators experiencing significant challenges in doing business there.
The picture has been further complicated by state-level interventions, which have seen opportunities for controlled gambling arise in states like New Jersey, For example PartyCasino NJ. But at a Federal level, restrictions remain in place that limit the options available to US consumers, while blocking out foreign operators from reaching into the US market – at least on any legal footing.
Now, according to the findings of a new survey, residents of the United States have suggested their preference is for a state-regulated model – as opposed to a Federal-level model – for overseeing gambling, and in particular sports betting. Were such proposals to be delivered, they would likely lead to a partial softening of restrictions in some select states, which could pave the way for international and domestic operators alike to give US gamblers the same access to online betting services as they currently enjoy elsewhere in the world.
The findings come off the back of the latest Seton Hall Sports Poll, produced by a team of analysts at Seton Hall University in New Jersey. The study found that 62% of respondents said a state model was better than the federal alternative, versus just 27% in support of the current Federal level regulation – not even close.
Furthermore, of those surveyed, a majority of 55% said that sports betting should be entirely legalised, with just 33% opposed to the idea. Interestingly, the same respondents also suggested that they thought sports betting would ‘negatively impact’ the integrity of sporting fixtures – in other words, while the public are open to legalised sports betting, most of those responding felt this would have an impact on the fairness and honesty of the sports being bet on.
Rick Gentile, the poll’s director, flagged this apparent anomaly, as well as recognising the significance of the poll’s findings.
“It’s outrageous when you think about it. It comes close to saying ‘We don’t care about the legitimacy of the games, what matters is being able to bet on them. A majority favors gambling, and by a slimmer margin think the games might be fixed as a result.”
Nevertheless, it seems clear that the overriding preference is for a form of sports betting that is legal, and left up to the individual to assess the risks – including that sporting events might be fixed – rather than the current, national-led approach.
The poll was conducted across 736 randomly selected respondents in the US, and comes with a margin of error in the region of 3.7%. Even factoring these findings into account, the poll shows a strong preference for state-level regulatory options.
Interestingly, the issue becomes more polarised again when broken down on the grounds of gender. With as much as 63% of male respondents in favour of a legalised model, the average was weighted by just 47% of female respondents with the same view.
On the whole, those that do prefer a legalised approach think by 44%-36% that this should include college level, as well as professional, sports.
While the findings of the poll show a legal system currently out of step with majority opinion, it remains to be seen whether lawmakers are prepared to sit up and take notice any time soon. With promising developments across individual states, it remains ultimately up to Federal decision makers to make that final call.