New research conducted by Nielsen Sports on behalf of the American Gaming Association (AGA) suggests that there will be a marked shift towards legal forms of sports betting in the wake of PASPA’s demise earlier this year. The study also indicates that access to legal sports wagering will increase fan engagement in major sporting contests and enable a significant revenue generation opportunity for major sports leagues and teams.

The research identifies groundbreaking demographic and behavioural characteristics of self-identified bettors who the AGA believes will populate the future legal US betting landscape. It noted: “Among this crucial demographic for sports leagues and broadcasters, 71 percent of those research participants who currently bet with a bookie say they would shift some or all of their betting activity to a regulated market if they had access to a legal platform.”

Breaking that 71 per cent figure down further, Nielsen found that 33 per cent of those who placed a bet with a bookie would use their current method less and a legal platform more often. Thirty eight per cent saying they would make a full switch to go completely legal.

Looking at the various sports, the NFL is expected to see the biggest rise in sports bettors (+60 per cent), followed by the MLB (+55 per cent), with the NBA and NHL on an equal footing (+24 per cent), post-PASPA.

According to Nielsen, 44 percent of sports bettors are adults under the age of 35, as opposed to 31 percent of the general population. Twenty-nine percent of bettors earn a household income of more than $100K, almost double the proportion of the general population.

The AGA said that expanding access to legal sports betting will bring millennial audiences back to sports broadcasts and stadiums, which is a huge benefit for sport enterprises across the country. “However,” it warned, “this potential will only be realized with proper policy frameworks that empower consumers with competitive odds, access to all bets and the ability to tap into modern platforms including mobile. Without this focus on consumers, the illegal market will continue to thrive.”

Additional research is underway to quantify how much each league can realize from widely-available, legal, regulated sports betting.

SBC Americas analysis:

The AGA’s research makes for encouraging reading for stakeholders and observers who understandably harboured concerns about whether or not bettors will shun the black market in sports betting. But even if those figures are correct, there is still a significant number (29 per cent) that apparently refuse to take the legal route and 33 per cent who won’t entirely sever relationships with their existing unregulated bookie. There is clearly still much work to be done to convince bettors in those camps that going legal is the right thing to do. Furthermore, it’s unlikely that the unregulated market will yield its market share without a struggle.