In April of 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA), which essentially and immediately made sports betting a state’s rights decision.

Some states – like New Jersey – had sportsbooks up and running within two months. Others soon followed, and as of this writing, 14 states allow some form of legalized sports gambling, another six states (and Washington D.C.) have legalized it and are now wrangling over details, and all but six other states have bills pending in their state legislatures to legalize sports wagering.

And according to a recent CivicScience study, Americans are hungry for the action.

As of this writing, 6% of Americans say they bet on sports at least “somewhat often.”

But 21% of Americans say they are at least “somewhat likely” to bet on sports if it was legal in their state. That is a very large potential for sports bettors across the country. 

CivicScience data show similar potential to bet on sports if it were legal across most demographics.

Strike It Rich

It’s the dream of every gambler to go on a run and hit a 15-team parlay and cash out a few million bucks, leaving the mundane 9-to-5 world behind. Currently, American adults who say they are at least “somewhat unhappy” at those 9-to-5’s are slightly more likely to gamble on sports. But if it were legal in their state? A full third of Americans who are ready to ditch their day job say they’d be likely to place bets.

Wider legalization of sports could even bring in adults who are already in some type of debt, whether from gambling, credit cards, bank loans, or others. CivicScience data show the number of sports bettors who are in debt could increase if wagering were legal in their state. Even those without debt become quite a bit more likely to bet if it were legal. 

And while a line can’t definitively be drawn between betting on sports and likelihood of being in debt, this is obviously something to watch going forward. As more states legalize gambling, will things even out, or will sports gamblers always carry significantly more debt than non-sports gamblers?