Half of all Americans are likely to be celebrating the recent Supreme Court decision to allow legalised sports betting in states beyond Delaware, Montana, Nevada and Oregon. The Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll of adults nationwide, conducted before the Supreme Court rendered its decision, found 50 per cent who say they favour legalisation everywhere, as compared with a little more than a third (37%) who are opposed. The Fairleigh Dickinson University Poll has been asking Americans similar questions about sports betting since 2010, and opinions remain fixed.

Among those who said they oppose the expansion of legalised sports betting, the biggest concern people have centres around the ravages of gambling. Sixty-six percent are likely to oppose the Supreme Court’s recent decision because of fears that more will fall prey to the lure of a gambling addiction. Worries also extend to the spread of organized crime (43%) and games becoming less fair (39%).

Conversely, among those who favour the nationwide expansion, the two biggest reasons for supporting the ability for other states to join the party are the additional tax revenue for states (52%) and the simple fact that people are already betting illegally through office pools and the like (57%).

“Americans take a moral or practical approach to sports betting. Those who oppose it are worried about its effects on society. Others want to benefit from the money that is already flowing through illegal wagering,” said Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and a professor of political science at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Legalized betting on professional sports will yield additional revenue for struggling states through taxes. The public seems keenly aware of this and, when asked if the states should share some of the tax revenue with professional sports teams, a clear majority say no. By an almost two-to-one ratio, most Americans reject the idea of revenue sharing (62% versus 32%).

“Sports betting is about two things,” added Jenkins. “It is about legalising what millions of Americans already do every day. It is about intensifying the engagement of a nation of sports fans. It will now be a race to see who can benefit the most and the earliest from this changed landscape. New Jersey may have a head start given the legislation that’s already pending in anticipation of this ruling, but other states will soon be looking to pad their budgets through the American penchant for sports and wagering.”

Donald Hoover, senior lecturer at the International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, believes that New Jersey, and particularly Atlantic City will benefit from the entrance of legalised sports wagering in New Jersey.  “New Jersey will benefit from taxes on sports wagering. Atlantic City will surely get a boost in gambling and non-gambling areas from sports wagering as well. More money will flow into the area through hotel room rentals and food and beverage sales at AC casinos. The sports wagering crowd will need places to sleep, eat, and drink while placing their bets.”