Research Shows Consumers are Abandoning Illegal Sportsbooks for Legal Sports Betting

A new study by the American Gaming Association (AGA) indicates that sports betting customers are shifting from illegal and offshore options to legal markets. According to the study, which the AGA summarized in a press release, spending with illegal bookies fell 25% last year in states that offer legal sports betting. In those same states, legal betting in the online and mobile space rose 12%. 

The AGA’s research cites a few key factors as reasons for the ongoing shift to legal betting options. The most influential points that convinced players to move to legal betting sites or apps were confidence that their wins will be paid out (25%), general awareness that legal options are available (20%), and simply wanting to use a regulated and licensed sports betting provider (19%).

Making The Move From Illegal to Regulated Operators 

Bill Miller, President and CEO of the AGA, notes that the continuing migration of consumers to legal platforms affirms the work that providers are doing to provide a great player experience. “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,” he said, “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.”

Those alternatives are working, according to the AGA research. The study shows that 74% of bettors say it’s important to bet exclusively with legal providers. Still, 52% of sports betting enthusiasts used the illegal market last year. However, 55% of bettors who mostly stuck to illegal operators believed they were using a legal, regulated operator.  

Miller continues: “Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers. This only worsened during the sports shutdown…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.”

Sports Betting In The US: Current State

In addition to the study, the AGA offers an interactive map that shows each state’s sports betting status. 

As of this writing, 18 states (and DC) have legalized and launched sports betting in some capacity. Many have launched retail and mobile offerings. 

Four states have legalized sports betting but have yet to launch. Of them, Tennessee is the most unique case. The state has no land-based casinos and will grant online-only licenses to sports betting operators. 

Eight other states have legislation in the works to regulate sports betting. 

That leaves 20 states with no legal sports betting. Some of those markets, such as California, recently saw their proposed legislation halted, while others have proposed no laws at all. 

About the Author

Cole Rush

Cole Rush

Cole Rush is a Chicago-based writer and contributor for His work has been showcased in various gaming industry magazines and online columns. Prior to freelance writing, Cole spent seven years in communications at a gambling and lottery supplier. A Chicago native, Cole's favorite teams are, predictably, da Bears and da Bulls. When he visits the casino, you’ll most likely find him playing Mississippi Stud or spinning some slots.
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