Americans are increasingly refraining from illegal operators, the AGA says

The American Gaming Association has revealed that continued strategic efforts are paying off as new research shows that consumers are moving their business away from illegal bookies and towards legal options.

The national trade group, which represents the $261bn US casino industry, says that average spending with illegal bookies fell 25 percent in legal sports betting states last year, while legal online and mobile betting spend increased 12 percent. However, illegal offshore operators also saw a three percent increase in states with legal sports betting.

Furthermore, it was said the most influential factors for bettors who had shifted from the illegal to legal market are confidence that bets will be paid out (25 per cent), awareness of legal options (20 per cent), and a desire to use a regulated sportsbook (19 per cent).

“We’ve known for a long time that Americans like to bet on sports. This research affirms their interest in moving toward the protections of the legal market,” stated AGA President and CEO Bill Miller.

“Giving consumers convenient alternatives to the illegal market, like regulated mobile offerings and competitive odds, is key for getting bettors to switch to legal channels.”

The study also asserted that bettors overwhelmingly prefer legal operators, with 74 percent saying it is important to only bet through legal providers. Despite this, 52 percent of sports bettors participated in the illegal market in 2019. 

Research also found that illegal sports betting is driven largely by confusion about online operators with more than half (55 per cent) of consumers who placed most of their wagers with illegal operators believed they bet legally.

“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers,” added Miller. “This only worsened during the sports shutdown, with unregulated bookmakers offering odds on everything from the weather and shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive the pandemic. 

“The AGA is focused on educating customers on how to wager legally and the dangers of the illegal market, especially with the return of the MLB and NBA this month.”

To help educate bettors, the AGA’s interactive sports betting map includes a comprehensive directory of licensed online and retail sportsbooks in states where sports betting is legal. In addition, the AGA is actively collaborating with federal and state law enforcement to enhance the country’s collective understanding of the illegal marketplace.