US sports wagering sees record-breaking uptick in participation

A record number of people are participating in legal sports wagering and fantasy sports in the US, according to the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association.
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A record number of people are participating in legal sports wagering and fantasy sports in the US, according to research conducted by Leger for the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA).

The study also showed that there has been strong growth in both female bettors and esports daily fantasy sports (DFS) players, and that there are opportunities to educate consumers about regulated and unregulated betting sites.

Leger’s research was conducted through an online survey with 2000 US adults over the age of 18, many of which were sports bettors and fantasy players, between May 10 and May 25. 

The study estimates that 60.2 million wager on sports, a 9.4 million increase (20%) year-over-year, while 50.4 million play fantasy sports, a six million increase (13.5%) YoY.

Overall, 69.5 million either bet on sports or play fantasy sports, and 59% of that number do both, up 3.4 million (9%) YoY.

There has also been an increase in female bettors, as the research estimates that 20.6 million women now wager on sports, an 11.4 million increase on 2019 figures.

FSGA Chair, Stacie Stern, commented: “The expansion of legal sports wagering and the post-pandemic bounce back for fantasy sports is very encouraging to see. I’m also excited to see a greater diversity of participants throughout our industries.”

Sports wagering participation has risen in large part to the expansion of sports betting across the US. 35 states plus Washington DC have legalized sports wagering since PASPA was repealed in May 2018, with market launches in states such as Louisiana and New York taking place over the past year.

Yet, despite the growth sports wagering has seen, fantasy sports participation hasn’t been affected. Over 30 million players are participating in DFS according to Leger’s study, a 12% gain over 2019 figures. The crossover between DFS players and season-long fantasy players is up significantly, too.

The research discovered that 98% of fantasy sports players continue to play once they start sports betting, 31% of the sports betting handle is on live bets, and the most popular way to wager on sports is online at 63%.

The NFL remains the most popular game to bet on, followed by the NBA, MLB, and college sports. For fantasy sports, it’s the NFL, MLB, and NBA, with esports rising among DFS players.

The study also revealed that in states that have been regulated, betting solely on unregulated sites has fallen from 59% to 24%. However, 81% of unregulated site users don’t know that the sites they are using are unregulated.

Stern added: “This last point represents an incredible opportunity for increased consumer education and ensuring equitable state licensing structures that allow for open, competitive markets.”