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Study: 1 in 5 American adults have bet money on sports in the past year

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ — Nearly one in five American adults have bet money on sports in the past year, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Pew Research Center report shows that 19% of adults surveyed said they had bet on sports.

The most common way to do this was to place bets with friends or family, such as a private betting pool, fantasy league or occasional bet; 15% of respondents said they bet in this way.

Only 8% said they made sports bets in person at a casino, racetrack or kiosk, and 6% said they did so online. The survey did not ask if the online sites were regulated by a government agency or if they were unregulated offshore sites.

The survey results indicate that the nascent legal sports betting industry in the United States, while rapidly growing, has plenty of room for expansion; over 80% of all legal sports betting in the United States is done online.

Since the NFL season kicked off last Thursday, 31 states plus Washington DC offered legal sports betting, and many more will soon.

A record 46.6 million Americans say they plan to bet on the current NFL season, up 3% from last year, according to the American Gaming Association, the national trade group for the game industry.

The center interviewed 6,034 adults from July 5 to July 17. Its margin of error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.

More male than female respondents – 24% versus 15% – said they had bet on sports in some form in the past year. And among respondents under 50, 22% had bet on sports compared to 17% over 50.

The Pew Center said 27% of black respondents and 24% of Hispanic respondents said they had bet on sports, while 18% of white adults and 10% of Asian Americans said they had.

He found no significant difference in sports betting by education level or household income level: 18% of college graduates said they had bet on sports in the past year, and 20% of those who did not have a college degree reported having done so.

Meanwhile, 22% of upper-income adults, 19% of middle-income households, and 19% of low-income households said they had bet on sports in the past year.

The survey also found no significant differences by party affiliation: 21% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning Independents said they had bet on sports in some way in the past 12 months, as did 19% of Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents.

When asked if sports betting is good or bad for society, 57% said it was neither. Just over a third – 34% – said it was bad and 8% said it was good.

When asked if sports betting was good for the sport itself, 49% were neutral, 33% considered it bad, and 16% said it was good.

By May, the fourth anniversary of a US Supreme Court ruling allowing all 50 US states to offer legal sports betting if they wanted to, Americans had wagered more than $125 billion on sports.

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