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Gambling Trends and Behavior in the US

intoThe US gambling industry can be a bit confusing as each state regulates its own market individually. Despite that confusion, the US gambling market continues to grow and flourish with each passing year. The US state governments are expanding on legalized and regulated games of chance and it is no secret that Americans love to gamble.

A survey conducted in 2018 that consisted of 3,000 American individuals showed that 73% of respondents had taken part in any form of gambling activity in the past year. Gambling is quite a popular activity in the states.

In 2018, the gross gaming revenue (GGR) reached over $161 billion. The main contributors to that sum are lotteries, commercial casinos, and tribal casinos forming more than $150 billion. There are a total of 465 commercial casinos in the states and 524 tribal casinos.

How Americans View the Gambling Industry

how american view the gamblingAmericans never used to have a great opinion on the gambling industry. The American Gaming Association has conducted many surveys over the past decade and results show an increase in favorable opinions of this type of adult entertainment. In the past 10 years, positive opinions of gambling have increased by 16%. Now, half of the American population considers it to have a positive impact on the nation.

Almost 7 in 10 Americans said that the gambling industry behaves responsibly in the areas it operates. A further 63% said that the industry creates jobs for citizens and 69% said that it benefits the economy. A total of 75% said that the industry’s tax contributions would be vital for the states’ progress and that they would help governments to recover from Covid-19 impacts.

When asked if they thought that the industry had reacted responsibly regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, 58% of Americans said they thought the industry had taken sufficient measures to keep their employees and customers safe. A further 89% said that they considered gambling as an acceptable form of gambling.

Overall, the population’s opinion on the gambling industry is far more positive than when gambling was first legalized. In 2009, only 31% of Americans had a favorable view of the market, whereas now, a new record has been reached with 50% of the population. This progress is huge and shows promise for an even brighter future in the industry.

More Punters Choose Legal over Illegal Sportsbooks

more puntersUntil quite recently, sports betting was illegal in the US under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA). However, the US Supreme Court decided to strike down the ban in 2018, thus authorizing the states to legalize sports betting activities. Since then, 22 states in America have started making steps to legalizing sportsbooks and many have done so.

Since sportsbooks have been legalized, more and more punters have been opting to gamble with legal rather than illegal ones. A recent survey conducted by the American Gaming Authority shows that 52% of bettors still participate in the illegal sports betting market. However, this is not due to intent as 74% of punters believed it was important to bet legally. The interesting part is that 55% of illegal bettors actually thought they were mostly betting legally and a further 84% were surprised to learn they were betting on illegal sites.

It seems there is confusion among the American population as to what is legal gambling. This is completely understandable given the fact that sports betting is a newly legalized activity in the states. Many operators that work illegally are taking advantage of the obvious confusion among the population.

Despite that, there is still a significant increase in the use of legal sportsbooks in the US. States that have now legalized sports betting have seen a 12% rise in online and mobile betting spend with legal operators and a 25% decrease in spend with illegal bookies. There has also been a 3% increase in spend with illegal offshore operators and a 10% decrease in spend with legal casino sportsbooks. Overall, there is a significant drop in illegal sports betting activities.

When informed of their illegal sports betting activities, 48% of illegal bettors said that they would shift to legal sportsbooks. The survey also inquired as to why punters preferred to bet legally. Results showed that 25% had greater confidence in receiving payouts from legal operators and 19% just wanted to use regulated sportsbooks. A further 20% said that they shifted to legal sports betting because they were made aware of legal casino options.

This shows the importance of educating punters on responsible gambling and how to avoid bad apples in the sports betting industry. As with all things in life, citizens need to be aware of both the bad and good sides of the gambling industry. For the legal gambling industry to provide optimum benefits for communities and economies, people need to learn how to distinguish legal operators from illegal ones.

Gambling Participation by Game Type

gambling participationThe National Council on Problem Gambling conducted a widespread survey on the general opinion towards gambling activities in the past year. It also looks at gambling participation and how often the public liked to spend money in casinos.

Results showed that 73% of respondents had participated in gambling activities of any form during the year. Out of that number, 66% had bought a lottery ticket, 21% on pull-tabs or break open tickets, 41% had bought raffle tickets, 14% had spent money on any kind of spinning wheel type games, and 20% had played bingo at a bingo hall or bingo gaming center. These activities are classed as games of chance.

A further 14% had wagered money on horse or dog races, 20% had wagered in traditional sports games, and 17% had betted on fantasy sports games. As for casino games, 23% had wagered on card games, 13% on craps or other dice games, another 13% on roulette, and 37% had spent money on any kind of activity in a casino.

Gaming machines such as slots or VLTs were also relatively popular with 32% of respondents spending money on them. Another 15% took part in online gambling on a website or app on a mobile device.

The survey also looks at the frequency of wagering money during the year among the respondents. Out of all of them, 33% had never wagered before, while 30% wagered less often than once a year, and 14% gambled only once or twice a year. On the other hand, a mere 3% gambled weekly or more often, 7% wagered 1-3 times monthly, and 13% had placed bets several times a year, but not monthly.

In the survey, only gamblers of the past year were asked their opinion of gambling participation. Out of them, 74% agreed that gambling is not a good way to make money, while 10% disagreed. Gamblers were also asked if they thought when they gambled more often, it increased their chances of winning. Only 11% disagreed with this and 73% agreed. When asked if they thought their chances of winning increased after they lost, 10% agreed and 70% disagreed.

The survey also asked if gamblers thought they should be able to walk away from gambling at any time, to which 90% agreed and 4% disagreed. A further 91% thought they should be aware of how much money they spend on gambling activities, while 3% disagreed with this.

It was interesting that 4% of Americans thought that it was not their responsibility to wager only what they could afford to lose, while 89% knew that this is not the case. A further 6% thought it was okay to gamble without having money to cover their bills and living expenses first, while 86% disagreed with this.

The survey asked gamblers whether they gambled for entertainment or to win money. Only 19% claimed to wager to win money, while 57% said they gambled for entertainment.

Trends among US Sports Bettors

trend among us bettorsSports betting alone brought in $814.6 million in GGR according to a UNLV Centre for Gaming Research report in October 2020. The biggest contributor to this number is New Jersey with $244.4 million. New Jersey is followed by Nevada with $157.75 million. Pennsylvania is also up there with the big numbers with a GGR of $138.2 million and then Indiana with $89 million.

The state with the lowest GGR from sports betting is New York with only $435,111 in revenue. This is likely because from March through August they had no revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic. New York doesn’t seem to be big sports betting fans anyway as they have considerably lower monthly revenues than other states.

In the survey conducted by the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG), sports bettors were asked which sports they enjoyed wagering on (there were multiple answers possible). The most popular sport seemed to be professional football with 65% of respondents. College football was selected by 36% of punters followed by college basketball and basketball both with 30%. The least popular sport seemed to be golf which was only selected by 7% of respondents. Punters also did not seem too keen on tennis, only 9% of them selected this activity.

The survey also asked sports bettors how they liked wagering and again, multiple answers were possible. Nearly all (92%) said they liked betting against friends or family. The next most popular answer was through an online sportsbook with votes from 63% of respondents. A further 57% said they place bets at brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Another 48% liked betting with bookies (not online websites or casino/physical sportsbooks).

Another online survey was conducted in February 2020 to find out whether men or women made up the bulk of sports bettors. There were near 2,200 respondents aged 18 or older. This survey found that 20% of male respondents had participated in sports betting, while only 7% of female respondents had also done so.

Attitude toward Problem Gambling

attitude towards gamblingThe NCPG survey also probed to see participants what they thought of problem gambling. This part of the survey was conducted using statements with answers as agree, disagree, or neutral as possibilities.

To the statement “addiction to gambling is a lot like addiction to drugs or alcohol”, 75% of respondents agreed and 11% did not. A further 57% of participants disagreed that gambling is immoral, while 13% did. Neutral was the main answer (47%) to the statement “services to treat compulsive gambling are available in my community”, while 38% agreed and only 10% disagreed.

More than 3 out of 5 participants (63%) thought that the gambling industry should do more to help people with gambling addiction. When asked if they thought the government should do more to help people with gambling addiction, 43% of respondents agreed and 22% disagreed.

An interesting thing we observed is that many people were uncertain as to where to look for help if someone close had a gambling addiction. Nearly 2 out of 5 (38%) respondents said they did not know where to look, while 37% did.

Participants were also asked what they thought to be the main causes of gambling addiction with likely or unlikely answer options. Just over half (52%) thought it likely to be because of moral weakness and 85% thought it likely to be because of having an addictive personality. Another 78% said it was likely to be because of a lack of willpower.

Four in five participants thought it is likely from being in the company of someone who gambles a lot and a further 78% said it could be likely from having a parent or other family member who gambles often.

Just over half (55%) thought that a traumatic event in someone’s life is a likely reason for gambling addiction. Nearly 3 in 5 (57%) thought that having a genetic or medical condition was an unlikely cause. Another likely cause for 56% of respondents is seeing a lot of ads for gambling activities and a further 77% thought that winning a lot of money was a likely cause.


summaryThe US gambling market is a strange entity that can be hard to get the hang of due to its confusing laws on regulation. However, this is no issue for Americans as they love to gamble. Despite the public’s unsure opinion on gambling when it was first legalized, over the years they have realized the positive impacts the industry has for communities, economies, and labor.

It is a good thing to see a gambling market flourish, and this sure has happened in the sports betting sector. Despite PASPA’s hardest efforts to stop consumers from taking part in sports betting, this type of gambling was legalized in 2018. More and more citizens are understanding the positive side of regulated activities and are trying their best to convert to only legal sportsbooks. There seems to be a bit of confusion regarding which operators are legit, however, so maybe the states need to work on educating their citizens on the matter.

The majority of US citizens also seem to have their heads on right in terms of problem gambling. It seems, according to the answers given in the NCPG survey, that Americans feel that the US gambling industry needs to put more effort into taking care of gambling addicts. Many participants seemed to not be educated well in terms of where to turn to in the case of a problem gambler.