Study Shows Many Indianans May Be Ignorant Of Legal Sports Betting

Posted on September 27, 2019 - Last Updated on October 3, 2019

Any law is only as good as its enforcement. By the same measure, any change in a state’s statutes is only as effective as the awareness of it. New American Gaming Association study results are proof of that.

The AGA recently published a nationwide survey. Among the broad results are one finding that suggests many Indianans may be oblivious of their state’s sports betting laws.

Highlights of the recent AGA study results

The study took the form of an online survey late in 2018. The 6,000-plus respondents were from all over the United States and were all at least 21 years of age.

Of all the respondents, 61% identified as uninterested sports betting. The second-largest group by interest is what the AGA considers core sports bettors.

Those people placed a bet at a casino or online over the past year. That group only accounted for 14% of the respondents, however.

That group may grow once the awareness of legal sports betting in Indiana increases. The study shows there is much work yet to be done there.

Nearly half of respondents ignorant of recent changes

Surprisingly in this age of carrying computers in our pockets, many of the respondents were unaware of recent legal changes. That included not only changes in state laws but the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act, as well.

Forty-four percent of the respondents who reside in states that had legalized sports betting at the time of the survey were unaware of that fact. That wasn’t the only thing respondents were ignorant of, however.

Forty-one percent were unaware that placing a bet with a bookie is illegal. And 28% of online bettors thought they were placing bets with offshore sportsbooks.

While there is some degree of misinformation on the internet, most of this ignorance is simply that. Programs to increase public awareness could not only help consumers make better decisions but also benefit legal sportsbooks in Indiana and across the nation.

AGA study results show importance of awareness

The study shows 39% of respondents identified as casual, core, interested, or potential bettors. While the survey isn’t broad enough to apply those labels to the population of the US at large, there are some possible inferences.

In any group of nearly 7,000 people, there will be a variety of demographic factors such as:

  • Age
  • Education level
  • Ethnicity
  • Occupation

In this particular group, none of those things seemed to affect the interest in sports betting as much as awareness of the legal situation.

That suggests the more people are aware of the laws surrounding sports betting in places like Indiana, the more they may lean toward participating. A substantial 73% of the respondents said it’s important to them to place their bets legally.

Even among those who said they are uninterested in betting, 66% supported legalization. Awareness is important for more reasons than just increasing the number of states where sports betting is legal, however.

It’s also essential for consumer protection and for the sports betting tax structures to have their intended effect.

When awareness increases, everyone involved wins

The more bettors who are aware of programs for compulsive gamblers and regulatory bodies that can assist with resolving disputes, the safer sports betting will be. That also allows sportsbooks to operate with fewer resources spent on customer complaints and dealing with problem gamblers themselves.

Also, increased sports betting revenues at legal books mean increased revenues for local and state treasuries. That, in turn, should lead to more funds for education and roads that everyone, not just core bettors, can benefit from.

The history of Indiana gambling tells us to expect opinions to change over time. For now, sports betting has accomplished its first objective by securing legalization. The goal now should be education. The more residents of and visitors to the Hoosier State who are aware of their options, the better.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is a freelance journalist who resides in Kansas City, Mo. He is a 2013 graduate of the University of Iowa and covers the intersections of sports with business and the law.

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