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Stateside


Sharon Harris laments sports officials and their potential role in the misery of sports betting…


A bet on. 12 OCTOBER 2019


s the television game night’s song goes...”Are you ready for some football?” I am. Early last month during a nationwide phone


conference call, American Gaming Association (AGA) President/CEO Bill Miller revealed some


amazing sports betting statistics. Between August 7-12, the group Morning Consult conducted a national online survey of 11,001 adults. The study focused on this 100th anniversary of American football as the National Football League’s (NFL) season “kicked off” last month. Look at old photos or movies and you will see a dramatic


evolution of players’ sizes, shapes, races and uniforms. The leatherhead helmets of yesteryear are constantly replaced with lighter, more substantial protection from constant hits and potential concussions. Football is huge business in the US, worth billions in direct and indirect costs, fees, salaries, advertising, etc. The survey, with a +/-1 percent margin of error, targeted an adult sample based on age, educational levels, gender, race and region. I expect Bill will discuss the report at the G2E expo since sports betting has enjoyed enormous success in several legal jurisdictions over 17 months. On the call, he stressed the importance of continuously


providing a legal alternative to a dangerous illegal marketplace. Since May 2018’s Supreme Court decision, more than $10 billion has been legally wagered in 13 states with regulated sports betting. Five more states, plus Washington DC, may open regulated markets in the near future.


 The AGA report revealed other significant statistics:  39% of avid NFL fans will wager on the NFL this season. 75% of NFL bettors will probably watch a game they have


 28% will probably attend a game they are betting on. That


is important because some stadiums have had empty seats.  51% are more likely to watch pregame shows/commentary.  63% are more likely to join friends or family to watch a game.


The survey also found that almost 25% of American adults would place an NFL bet if they lived in a legal sportsbook state. Count my husband Norman in that statistic. Before the season began, he and two retired friends went to the Borgata’s sportsbook in Atlantic City to bet on our hometown team, the Philadelphia Eagles. These guys have always participated in group pools, but this was their first chance for an in-person wager at a casino. They had a great time. The Eagles are among the NFL’s oldest football franchises.


Established in July 1933, the team played its first professional season in Fall 1933. As a group, the Eagles have endured because of obsessively


loyal fans and a storied history. Norman and I are big fans and have attended numerous games over 20 years. For anyone who has ever watched American sports, US football fans in particular are an intense bunch when it comes to their own teams. As a Philly girl, I know that my fellow fans are a tough crowd.I’m thrilled about the regulatory monitoring, but, I’m also somewhat angry. Why? Well, the AGA, operators, and major stakeholders in the sports betting operations all focus on the regulation. They insist a key reason for sports betting’s successes in major markets is the public’s faith in the integrity of the games over an underground black market operation.


That is absolutely right, but trust includes another element. The public will never feel comfortable betting on a sporting


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