Sports Betting Support Reaches All-Time High, University of Maryland Survey Says

Written By J.R. Duren on July 12, 2022

The age of sports betting is upon us. A new survey reveals that support for sports betting is at an all-time high in the U.S.

In-person betting on sports at sportsbooks has been legal in Maryland for the last seven months. Online sports betting, while initially hoped to be available in the state by the start of the NFL season, will eventually follow.

The survey conducted by the University of Maryland and the Washington Post queried 1,503 adults and was conducted from May 4-17. Of those surveyed, 83% identified themselves as sports fans.

Approval of sports betting has risen over 30 years

The survey found that 66% of people surveyed said they approved of sports betting. That number is 11 percentage points higher than it was in 2017. That was one year before the Supreme Court struck down legislation that outlawed sports betting in all but a few states.

Attitudes about sports betting have changed, the Post pointed out in an article about the survey.

“As states across the country legalize sports betting and online sportsbooks flood sports television with celebrity-backed advertisements, Americans are growing more accepting of the practice.”

The heart of the survey’s results came from the following question: “Overall, do you approve or disapprove of making betting on professional sporting events legal?”

Respondents provided the following answers:

  • Approve: 66%
  • Disapprove: 34%
  • No opinion: 1%

Among sports fans, support was even higher:

  • Approve: 69%
  • Disapprove: 30%
  • No opinion: 1%

The survey’s results indicate that support for sports betting has now increased for nearly 30 years. Gallup, CNN, and USA Today conducted a survey in 1993 that showed only 41% of Americans approved of sports betting. That number jumped to 55% in 2017 and then 66% in 2022.

Almost everyone has an opinion on sports betting

One of the more interesting data points the study found was that only a few people have no opinion about sports betting.

The Post’s 2017 study found that 12% of all respondents had no opinion about sports betting. Five years later, just 1% of all respondents didn’t have an opinion.

What happened to all those people who had no opinion on the practice in 2017? They now support sports betting. Between 2017 and 2022, the number of respondents with no opinion on sports betting dropped 11 percentage points. At the same time, the number of people who approved of sports betting rose 11 percentage points.

College sports and lowering legal betting age

Bettors in Maryland can wager on college events, including competitions that Maryland colleges play in. It’s not like this in every state. In New Jersey, bets on New Jersey college and university teams are prohibited. That also includes any collegiate competitions taking place in New Jersey.

Maryland’s policy is a bit controversial, according to the survey. Half of all respondents said they disapprove of legalizing betting on college sports. The response was 49% approve, 50% disapprove and 1% had no opinion.

Interestingly, those numbers are only slightly more favorable among sports fans. Fifty-two percent approved, 46% disapproved and 1% had no opinion.

Additionally, the survey indicated that 68% of respondents believe the minimum legal age to place a sports bet should be 21. Just 32% thought it should be 18.

Office pools and betting with friends

The sports betting boom of the past five years has brought with it an endless stream of marketing and promos from sports betting apps. DraftKings, FanDuel, MGM and Caesars are among the big-name operators who’ve blitzed new markets with sharp ads and sweet promotions.

However, that influx of marketing has yet to usurp America’s favorite wagering environment: friends and office pools.

According to the UMD survey, 67% of respondents who’ve placed a bet in the past five years have done so with friends or through an office pool.

The second-most-popular response was “online using betting or fantasy sports websites or apps” at 49%. Another 40% said they’ve placed a bet in person at a casino in the past five years.

The survey has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

For the latest on mobile sports betting in the Old Line State, be sure to check out PlayMaryland‘s Live Updates page.

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J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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