Five Years After The Sports Betting Ban Is Lifted, Americans Have Come Around to The Idea

Five years ago, in May of 2018, The Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting by repealing PASPA — also known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.

Since doing so, 33 states and Washington D.C. have legalized sports betting along with four others having legalized but not yet launching. As sports betting legislation continues to proliferate, a large majority of US citizens say they are in favor of its expansion.

85% Say ‘Yes’ To PASPA-Repeal

The American Gaming Association (AGA) conducted research to commemorate the five-year mark of legal sports betting, and their findings showed huge industry growth compared to their one-year report. They interviewed 1,066 American adults (21+) and 1,005 people who have placed a sports bet in the last 12 months.

According to their research, 85% of American adults agree with the decision to overturn PAPSA in 2018. This is up over 20% from 2019’s report which showed only 63% agreed. 77% of respondents support legalization in their state, specifically.

Others, namely those who aren’t sports and/or gambling fans, are unsure of the legal status of sports betting in their state – 29% of American adults, to be exact. In 2019, 74% of American adults were unsure of the legality of sports betting in their state, reflecting a 45% decrease (or increase in awareness), according to AGA.

As a result, Americans have legally wagered $220 billion since PASPA was overturned in May 2018. This has generated $3 billion in state and local taxes which fund various programs from education, healthcare, responsible gambling, and more.

The 12-figure number is especially impressive when you consider that the three biggest states (by population number) – California, Texas, and Florida – don’t have legal sports betting markets, despite being home to almost 50 professional sports teams, combined. Were any of them to legalize, there’s no telling how big this number could get.

Regulated Markets: The Rise And Fall

Because of the massive growth of the industry over the last five years, it’s not surprising that the number of people using unregulated, offshore sportsbooks have decreased dramatically. Since 2019, the number of online sports bets placed through regulated operators has increased by 33%. The share of bettors who wager through regulated operators has increased to 78% as well.

While this trends in the right direction in terms of responsible gambling practices, there is still consumer confusion. According to the study, 70% of the bettors who placed bets with illegal operators thought they were betting with a legal operator at least half the time.

According to AGA’s survey which asked consumers what makes them think an illegal sportsbook is regulated, the following were the top reasons:

  • The online sportsbook is affiliated with a casino in the U.S.
  • The operator provides a statement that says sports bets placed at their online sportsbook are legal.
  • The site or its betting lines are mentioned in the media.

Responsible Gambling Awareness Growing Alongside The Industry

Considering the above confusion, the AGA and its partners are putting consumer protection at the forefront of their efforts.

“Five years post-PASPA, the AGA and our members continue to support responsibly expanding the legal market while cracking down on predatory illegal operators,” said AGA President and CEO Bill Miller. “The regulated industry and our partners across the entire ecosystem—policymakers, law enforcement, regulators, leagues, media, technology providers and more—have made significant strides in our collaborative consumer education efforts since 2018, and we will continue to find new ways to enhance consumer protections as the market matures.”

This coincides with a larger industry-wide initiative that includes efforts from several states to thwart misleading advertising in the business. Ohio’s launch in January created a larger conversation when lawmakers prohibited operators from using terms such as “free” and
“risk-free” in their marketing materials. The Ohio Casino Control Commission dished out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines to those who didn’t comply. Massachusetts followed suit when they launched shortly after, enforcing similar restrictions. Now, several operators are banning the term themselves, across all states which they operate in.

And just a few weeks ago, the NFL suspended five different players for sports betting violations – a moment of condemnation despite professional sports leagues’ growing support for the sports betting industry.

Mia Fowler is a graduate of Chapman University where she studied business marketing and journalism and played on the women’s soccer team. Following her 16-year journey with soccer, she started writing for She specifically enjoys analysis of the NFL.

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