Ipsos: Education can encourage more sports betting participation

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Ipsos believes more Americans would participate in sports betting if they were to receive education about gambling.

This comes after the market research company conducted a poll that revealed only 8% of Americans placed a sports bet via an app or online in the past year, while only 4% wagered in person during the same period.

Meanwhile, 12% of non-sports bettors don’t wager on sports because they don’t know where or how to, and 52% believe sports wagering is a waste of money.

Using the probability-based KnowledgePanel, Ipsos conducted the poll between Jan. 13-15, 2023, based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,035 general population adults age 18 or older. Since the sample only included 81 official sports bettors, Ipsos has stated the poll results must be interpreted “with caution.”

Alongside the online and retail sportsbook usage statistics, the poll also revealed that sports bettors are more likely to be male (69%), under 35 (39%), white (51%), high-income earners (44% make over $100k), and sports fans (84%).

Image: Ipsos

Despite the small number of people wagering from the sample size, US sports betting generated revenues of $4.33bn in 2021, a figure which was surpassed easily in 2022 with several new markets legalizing sports wagering.

“As the dollar spent on bets suggests, those who do bet on sports are very engaged in the sporting world,” commented Chris Jackson, Senior Vice President at Ipsos.

“Compared to the general public, they are more likely to self-describe as sports fans, play fantasy sports, go to live sporting events, and watch more niche types of sports, like esports.”

The poll indicated that most sports bettors place wagers on the NFL (59%), followed by the NBA (34%), college football (30%), college basketball (28%), MLB (26%), and horse racing (25%).

However, 73% of sports bettors only place a bet once a month or less, while 5% place multiple wagers per week.

Regarding sports bettors, 84% said they are sports fans. In the past year, 67% went to a live sporting event, 62% participated in fantasy sports, and 41% watched esports.

As for those that don’t wager on sports, they were asked to select their reason(s) why. The main reason was believing it’s a waste of money (52%), followed by not knowing enough about sports to gamble (31%), and not believing in gambling on sports (23%).

There was also a proportion of non-sports bettors (12%) who don’t wager because they don’t know where or how to gamble on sports.

“While some segments of the population remain intractable, there are non-betting Americans who don’t partake because they just don’t know enough about gambling,” added Mallory Newall, Vice President at Ipsos. 

“This provides a potential new group for the industry to expand into and is likely where advertising dollars are being spent by sportsbook operators to attract new customers.”

Regarding further sports betting legislation, 34% want to allow app-based sports betting in their state, 30% oppose it, and 35% were undecided. 34% want to allow in-person sports betting in their state, 29% oppose it, and 36% were undecided.

59% believe people should be able to gamble on sports, while 37% think sports betting is wrong as it can promote activities that can lead to addiction.