IUPUI poll finds moderate support among Hoosiers for sports betting

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More Hoosier voters than not said in an IUPUI poll they back legalized sports betting in Indiana—but not a majority of those surveyed.

The online Indy Sports Poll, conducted by IUPUI's Sports Innovation Institute with research firm Qualtrics, found that 46 percent of individuals say Indiana should legalize sports gambling. The rest of the respondents were split, with 28 percent saying sports wagering shouldn’t be legalized and 26 percent saying they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.

The survey comes as state lawmakers are discussing whether to legalize sports wagering. The Senate Public Policy Committee this week approved Senate Bill 552, which would legalized sports betting. But the legislation needs the OK of the Senate Appropriations Committee before it can move to the full chamber for consideration.

The IUPUI/Qualtrics poll surveyed 840 individuals online Dec. 16-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

A majority of respondents were not sports gamblers. In fact, nearly 63 percent said they had never placed a bet on a sporting event, while about 32 percent said they had.

Those surveyed were divided about what sports should be open for betting. About one third said wagering should be limited to only professional sports, while 23 percent would be OK with betting on professional and college sports. Another 23 percent said neither should be available for wagering, while 20 percent of respondents said they didn’t know or had no opinion.

There was more consensus about who should regulate sports gambling, with nearly 52 percent of those surveyed saying states should control wagering versus less than 13 percent who said the federal government should be responsible for overseeing it.

The poll also measured support for taxing sports betting. The biggest group of people—46 percent—said sports betting should be allowed and taxed because “a lot of people do it anyway.” About 26 percent said it shouldn’t be allowed because "it promotes too much gambling and damages the integrity of sports.”

But even with more people saying they support it than oppose it, 44 percent of respondents strongly or somewhat agree that legalizing sports gambling could create a addiction problems—and 43 percent said it would lead to cheating or fixing of games.

The poll found that legalizing sports gambling may not actually increase the amount of betting. Only 19 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to bet on a sporting event if it was legalized.

And those surveyed didn’t seem to be motivated by being able to place bets on their phones, which state lawmakers advocating for sports gambling and industry representatives have said is key to being able to reduce the amount of illegal betting that occurs. Only 29 percent of respondents said they would be more likely to place a bet if they were allowed to do so on their phones instead of going into a casino.

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