New Firehouse/Optimus Survey Finds Voters Divided on SCOTUS Ruling on Sports Betting
Earlier today, the Supreme Court released their opinion on Murphy v. NCAA, ruling that state governments can legalize sports betting within their borders. In preparation for the ruling, we partnered with the data analytics team at 0ptimus to do a big segment read of likely midterm voters. Between May 4-6, we interviewed 2,486 likely midterm voters in Florida, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania about their views on gambling and sports betting.
Bottomline:While there may be strong arguments to legalize sports betting in more states, advocates need to convince more voters to support changing state laws. We found that many voters remain skeptical that state-sponsored sports betting would be an overall positive change to their communities and sports leagues.
- Voters believe that gambling, lotteries, and sports betting have negative effects on communities rather than positive effects by roughly a 2-to-1 margin (35.0% say negative effects, 17.0% say positive effects). An additional 29.4% say they have no effect, and 18.5% are not sure. Younger respondents are more open to the idea, with 36.5% of those 18-34 saying they have no effect, while the deficit between positive and negative shrinks to 18.9%-30.5%.
- KEY POINT: Many voters are undecided on gambling. While fewer than 1 in 5 voters believe that gambling has a positive impact on communities, nearly half are unsure or are indifferent. Meanwhile, roughly the same proportion (21.8%) say they ever gamble.
- On the heart of the Supreme Court case itself, voters are somewhat more divided, with 27.7% saying that they would support a law in their state to legalize betting on sports, 39.1% opposed, and 33.2% are unsure. Age once again shows up as a cleave, with 30.6% of 18-34 year-olds supporting compared to 31.0% opposed, 33.2% of 35-54 year-olds supporting compared to 34.5% opposed, and only 25.2% of 55+ supporting compared to 41.9% opposed.
- KEY POINT: More older voters oppose legalized sports betting more than younger voters, but all cohorts include many remain undecided voters (fig 1).
- Internet-based sports betting is a less appealing option for most. Only 19.4% would support a law that would permit sports betting through smartphones and computers, while 61.2% are opposed. An additional 19.4% are unsure. The drop-off here can be seen when sub-setting those who are supportive of a more general law. Among this group, only about half (51.6%) remain supportive of the law if it includes online betting, with 22.2% switching to being opposed and 26.2% now unsure.
- KEY POINT: Midterm voters are generally ambivalent about sports betting at brick-and-mortar casinos, but online gaming is overtly unpopular (fig 2)
Methodology: Between 5/4-5/6, we surveyed 2,486 modeled likely midterm voters in Florida (N = 1,081), Wisconsin (N = 400), Pennsylvania (N = 577) and Ohio (N = 428) via IVR, landline only. Likely voters were defined as registered voters having voted in the 2010 or 2014 midterm elections, plus the 15% additional most likely to turnout based on in-house turnout score modeling. Margin of error varies by question and segment, but is generally +/- 2.1% for topline results. Sample was weighted by state, age, gender, and party based on 2014 midterm turnout in the latest L2 voter file for each state. Results were then re-balanced based on these cohorts.