Half of Americans support sports betting, FDU poll finds

Half of Americans are likely to be pleased by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing sports betting in New Jersey and elsewhere, according to a recent Fairleigh Dickinson University PublicMind Poll.

The poll, conducted before the high court’s ruling, found that 50 percent favor legalization of sports gambling, while 37 percent who are opposed. Opinions were in line with historical figures, FDU said.

“Americans take a moral or practical approach to sports betting,” Krista Jenkins, director of the poll and professor of political science at FDU, said in a prepared statement. “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.”

The biggest reason for support of nationwide sports betting is that (illegal) office pools are already prevalent, with 57 percent of respondents citing that as a main reason for backing the idea. Additional tax revenue was the No. 2 reason, with 52 percent of those polled citing it.

The No. 1 concern about sports betting was gambling addiction, with 66 percent of those opposed to it citing gambling problems. The spread of organized crime, at 43 percent, and games becoming less fair, at 39 percent, were other major factors.

“Sports betting is about two things,” Jenkins said. “It is about legalizing what millions of Americans already do every day. It is about intensifying the engagement of a nation of sports fans.”

FDU polled a little more than 1,000 random adults during the last week of April. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.9 percentage points.