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Bettors are switching to legal betting, but many were tricked by illegal offshore bookies.

A new study by the American Gaming Association (AGA) revealed some surprising new info about sports betting in the US. While sports gambling has been legalized in multiple states, converting players from bookies and illegal offshore betting to sanctioned online sportsbooks has been difficult thus far. Now things appear to be turning a corner.

The AGA study indicates that average spending with illegal bookies fell by 25 percent in 2019. The average player is also spending 12 percent more on legal sports betting. These are very positive indicators for an industry that has been uncertain about American’s willingness to bet legally.

Why are people switching to legal betting?

By polling bettors, the researches found out what factors mattered most in their decisions to play more of their action in the legal market. The first and foremost decision influencer for bettors going legal was the confidence that their money would be safe and bets paid out. Bookies and offshore operations have become notorious for not paying up or making it too difficult to cash out winnings.

Second was brand awareness. So, it seems like FanDuel and DraftKings have not been wasting their marketing dollars on all of those commercials, billboards and promotions.

The third most important decision influencer for gamblers to convert to legal betting, was the desire to use a regulated book. 20% of those polled said this was very important to them, as they worry about the integrity of bookies and offshore betting sites. Plus, some had concerns of facing fines or even jail time for their illegal betting activity.

“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,” said AGA President/CEO Bill Miller.

However, not all the news from the illegal betting study was positive. 74 percent of bettors said they know it is important to only bet through legal options, but they didn’t actually stick to legal betting. The polling revealed that 52% of the betting public participated in illegal betting last year anyway.

The confusing problem of illegal betting sites in America.

Are people lying about their betting habits? Perhaps to some degree they are, but the numbers indicate a different cause for the continued prominence of illegal betting. Confusion.

Shockingly, 55% of consumers who thought they were betting legally were actually placing wagers on illegal betting sites.

“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of the unknowing consumers,” said Miller. He went on to explain that the preying on consumers by illegal sites only worsened during the sports shut down. Illegal sites were offering bets on ‘”everything from the weather and shark migration patterns to whether your friends’ marriage will survive the pandemic”.

These unsanctioned betting markets appealed to consumers looking for action during Covid-19. But, it appears most were fooled by the slick presentation of the illegal sites that look exactly like sanctioned US betting sites. With sports like NBA and MLB returning to action, the AGA now aims to educate more customers about legal betting options and how to know if a site is illegal.

New State by State Guide to Legal Betting.

The first step on the AGA’s path to converting more players to the legal side of betting, is this newly updated map. The map gives a state by state look at where betting is legal and where it isn’t. Plus, it contains a list in each state of the sanctioned options.

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