Bet on it: More Americans support legalizing sports gambling, ECU poll finds

Place your bets — more Americans think gambling on professional sports should be legal than illegal, a poll from East Carolina University shows.

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned federal law earlier this year that prevented states from allowing sports gambling. New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia have already legalized gambling on professional sports.

A new report using data from ECU’s “Life, Liberty, and Happiness survey” shows that 47 percent of Americans polled believe professional sports gambling should be legal, compared to 26 percent who think it should be prohibited.

Younger Americans, men and people with household incomes greater than $120,000 were more likely to agree with legalizing sports gambling, the poll showed.

Politics had little influence. There was only a 2 percent difference between Republicans and Democrats when it came to sports gambling’s legality.

Men are much more likely to believe sports gambling should be legal at 57 percent compared to 38 percent of women polled.

“These differences may stem from the fact that men already tend to gamble more frequently than women,” the report said.

People are also divided along age lines, with just 28 percent of people older than 75 supporting legalization compared to 57 percent of people between 18 and 24.

“With nearly half of the U.S. states, as well as the U.S. Congress, now currently considering sports betting legislation, the issue of legalized sports gambling is likely to remain a major legislative issue at the state and federal levels for months, even years to come,” Peter Francia, director of the Center for Survey Research, said in the report. “The current state of public opinion on legalized sports gambling is thereby an important political matter.”

ECU’s survey polled more than 1,100 Americans nationwide in May and June “using mail, Internet and phone.” Results were weighted to represent the U.S. population, according to the report.

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