In an August 2022 survey, California Casinos found that 90% of respondents believed that sports betting was very or somewhat important to other sports fans. Only about 10% of respondents believed that sports betting was not important to other sports fans.
These statistics show how much sports betting has moved into mainstream American sports since it was allowed at the federal level in 2018. There has always been a demand for sports betting in the US. Sports bettors sought out illegal bookies and online gambling sites, but they didn’t always pay winnings. High-rollers and sharks can get the most out of sportsbooks with five-figure bet limits instead of bet limits in the low 100s.
However, regular sports fans didn’t have products designed for them until regulated sportsbooks entered their markets. It’s no wonder that sports betting has not only gone mainstream, but also built itself around regular sports fans instead of professional, wealthy, or lucky sports gamblers.
FULL SURVEY RESULTS: What Other Findings Came from the August 2022 California Casinos Survey?
California Sports Bettor Impressions vs. Reality
While 90% of California sports bettors believe other sports fans want to bet on sports, the American Gaming Association (AGA) has a more nuanced finding. Sports bettors are more excited about betting on some sports than others. Among the most excited and dedicated sports bettors the AGA surveyed in 2018, 93% were interested in betting on the NFL while only 73% were interested in betting on the NHL.
While sports fans are more likely to become enthusiastic sports bettors than non-sports fans, sports bettors aren’t uniform, either. The same AGA survey identified casual, potential, and interested sports bettors in addition to the core enthusiastic bettors. Those three categories outnumbered the most enthusiastic segment of sports bettors. Further, most Americans were uninterested in sports betting.
The desire among sports fans on a national level is less uniform than California Casinos survey respondents believe. But the impression that sports betting is a new critical part of sports hasn’t come out of nowhere.
WORST-CASE SCENARIO: If Prop 26 and Prop 27 Both Fail, What’s Next for California Sports Betting?
US Sports Betting Goes Mainstream
California sports fans may not have legalized sports betting yet. However, they can’t have missed the campaign ads for the dueling sports betting initiatives: Prop 26 and Prop 27. If California legalizes online or retail sports betting, the campaign ads will be replaced with sportsbook bonus advertisements on billboards or in major stadiums.
This transformation of sports betting going mainstream in the US has already affected national sports broadcasts. Sportscasters discuss sports betting picks before and during the game. Sportsbooks advertise in major stadiums around the country. Barron’s reports that the online gambling TV ad spend grew from $292 million in 2020 to $725 million in 2021. American sports betting, and online gambling in particular, has grown into a major advertising category.
Sports betting’s legalization and the following advertising push has brought sports betting into mainstream sports. As sports betting has become more available and visible, many fans have also found sports betting a natural extension of fantasy sports. A 2018 survey by the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association found that “79% of fantasy players said there’s at least a good possibility they’d bet on sports if and when a bill is passed to legalize it in their state.”
With such an aggressive advertising blitz, it’s no wonder California sports bettors think most sports fans want to place sports wagers.
Sports Betting in California
Sports betting has integrated itself into mainstream sports even though it’s not legal in all 50 states. However, sports bettors aren’t uniform in their enthusiasm or betting preferences. Some bettors frequently wager while others only bet on major events.
The visible presence of sportsbook advertising and commentary in national sports broadcasts makes sports betting seem like a more critical part of enjoying sports than it is. It’s still an optional activity. That message gets lost in sports betting’s recent growth and sports leagues’ recent embrace of the industry.
California sports bettors believe that other sports fans consider sports betting a very or somewhat important part of sports. But they seem to overestimate the role it plays in other fans’ enjoyment of sports.