80% of People Think Sports Betting Should Be Legal in Their State [Survey]

All About Cookies surveyed 1,000 adults to find out more about people and sports betting, including how many actively gamble on their favorite sporting events.
We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

38 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized sports betting since the federal ban on sports gambling was struck down in 2018. Gone are the days when American gamblers had to take a trip to Vegas to scratch their sports-bet itch. In most states, bettors have access to officially licensed sportsbooks, and sometimes mobile apps and websites, that have sprung up in states across the country.

To see how people feel about wagering on sports, and how many Americans actively participate in sports gambling, The All About Cookies team decided to survey people nationwide. Here you’ll also find tips on digital safety for betting on (and streaming) some of the biggest sporting events in the country.

In these survey results
Key findings
How many people participate in different kinds of sports betting
How many people bet on March Madness
How many people use apps to bet on sports (in states where it’s legal)
How many people believe sports betting should be legal
Pro tips for placing your bets safely
Methodology

Key findings

  • 24% of people say app-based sports betting is legal in their state, and that they’ve tried it.
  • An additional 11% who live in states where it’s legal say they plan to try sports betting.
  • A quarter of people aren't sure if app-based sports betting is legal in their state or not.
  • One out of every four people say they plan to pay to participate in a March Madness bracket competition
  • Nearly one in five people say they will place traditional wagers on individual March Madness games and outcomes

  • 80% of people think sports betting should be legal in some form in their state.

How many people participate in different kinds of sports betting

So exactly which sporting events and forms of sports betting are the most popular among gamblers? We asked respondents to let us know the different ways they have bet, or plan to bet, on sports. This includes both traditional and more casual wagering.

As the culmination of the NFL season and the number one most-watched television event in the country, it comes as no surprise that the Super Bowl is the most wagered-on sporting event in the country.

Our survey concluded that …

  • 29% of respondents planned to place a traditional wager on the outcome of the big game, which was the highest participation rate of any form of gambling.
  • Nearly one-fourth of people said they would participate in a Super Bowl squares game.
  • Around 20% of people said they would place prop bets related to the big game, such as on the result of the pregame coin flip, the color of Gatorade in the winning team’s cooler, and more.
  • Across those three forms of wagering, 41% of people said they would bet on the Super Bowl in one form or another.
  • After the Super Bowl, bets on the NFL’s regular season are in second place. 26% of people said they wagered on the NFL regular season.
  • One-quarter of the population participates in another form of sports betting: filling out a March Madness/NCAA tournament bracket.

How many people bet on March Madness

Industry experts say that a higher number of people bet on the NCAA Tournament — also known as March Madness — compared to the Super Bowl. That's over the course of the weeks-long competition.

Bracket competitions are a unique form of March Madness betting. That’s where bettors guess who will win each of the 67 games that make up the tournament before the first game begins. The most accurate bracket at the end of the madness takes home the top prize in their pool.

One out of every four people say they plan to pay to participate in a March Madness bracket competition, while nearly one in five say they will place traditional wagers on individual tournament games and outcomes.

Sports betting is legal in 76% of states, meaning that adults in the majority of states currently have access to sports wagers. But only some of those states allow apps which let users place bets via their devices.

So how many people know whether or not app-based sports betting is legal where they live? And how many are using that option?

Three out of every four people know whether or not their state has legalized betting on sports via apps. That means 25% of the population is in the dark on this topic.

Just under one-quarter of people (24%) say they live in states where app-based sports betting is legal and they have tried it, while an additional 11% say it’s legal and they plan to try it in the future.

Taken together, that means more than one-third of the population (35%) both have access to legal app-based sports betting and plan to take advantage of that access (if they haven’t already).

Legalized sports betting has been around for less than 10 years, meaning every adult in the country grew up in a world where sports betting was banned on a federal level.

While many states have legalized sports betting since the federal ban went down, do people agree with that decision?

Overwhelmingly, it appears that Americans support state-sanctioned sports betting. 80% of people say they believe it should be legal in some form or fashion where they live.

More than one-third of people (35%) say sports betting should be legal in all forms in their state, while 30% think it should only be allowed when done on a licensed app or website. 15% of people think legal sports betting should be limited to in-person wagering at a traditional sportsbook.

Pro tips for placing your bets safely

  • Use a VPN for gambling and sports betting. Virtual private networks (VPNs) can help keep your information safe online, no matter which gambling and sports betting sites you prefer. If online sports betting is legal in your state, compare some of the top VPNs for sports betting.
  • Set yourself up with anti-malware protection. Live online sports streaming could make you vulnerable to internet and privacy issues depending on where you watch. Look into anti-malware software for a more secure streaming experience.
  • Protect your online sportsbooks. Be careful about who you let use sports betting logins like through DraftKings and FanDuel. Many password managers offer smart features to keep logins safe, such as authorized credential cross-sharing and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Methodology

To collect the data for this survey, our team at All About Cookies surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults in January 2024 via Pollfish. All respondents were U.S. citizens over the age of 18 and remained anonymous.

Unlimited Device Protection and Large Server Network
4.6
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Surfshark's website
VPN
Surfshark
7 day free trial on 12 and 24 month plans
  • All-in-one VPN app with 24/7 protection thanks to 3,200+ RAM-only servers in over 100 countries
  • Real-time malware defense, webcam protection, alternative ID creation, ad blocking, and more
  • One subscription covers unlimited devices for your entire household with access to 24/7 support

Author Details
Josh Koebert is an experienced content marketer that loves exploring how tech overlaps with topics such as sports, food, pop culture, and more. His work has been featured on sites such as CNN, ESPN, Business Insider, and Lifehacker.