July 22, 2020 3 min read


AGA: Bettors Turn to Legal Betting, Quit Offshore Operators

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has analyzed consumer behavior in 2019, indicating that consumers would much rather opt for a legal sports betting operator than an illegal one.

AGA Reports Shift in Consumer Perception of Illegal Betting

A new report by the American Gaming Association (AGA) has analyzed consumer behavior in 2019, which is the first year during which sports betting in the United States was fully legalized. The results showed that bettors continue to opt for legal sportsbooks over illegal operators when such choice is available.

The survey focused on states where sports betting has been legalized with offshore bookies seeing a 25% drop in consumers in those states. According to the report, legal sports betting operators need to introduce several features to be competitive and pry consumers away from illegal operators.

One of those desired features is mobile and interstate wagering. AGA has reported a 12% increase in online and mobile betting at legal operators in 2019. Consumers have cited more important factors that determine their decision to choose legal operators over illegal sportsbooks. They include:

  • Confidence that all wagers will be honored – 25%
  • Awareness of legal betting options – 20%
  • Opportunity to use a legal operator – 19%

One issue that has kept crawling up was consumers’ inability to fully distinguish between licensed and unlicensed operators. Interestingly, 74% of all consumers said it’s important to only play at regulated markets and with legal providers.

The Offshore Sports Betting Market Still Remains Strong

However, an estimated 52% of all consumers placed a bet with an unregulated sportsbook in 2019. Of those who were betting illegally, 55% believed they were betting at legal betting operators.

AGA has highlighted the need to educate consumers and help them distinguish the legal operators from the offshore ones. AGA wants to teach consumers how to identify legal markets and bet on those.

Other initiatives started by AGA include responsible gaming and educating the media on how to avoid the pervasive marketing that comes from offshore operators, and which de facto legitimizes their operations in the eyes of consumers. Bill Miller, AGA president and CEO, had this to say commenting on the offshore gambling markets:

“Illegal, offshore operators continue to take advantage of unknowing consumers. This only worsened during the [COVID-19] 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.”

AGA, Miller said, would remain committed to explaining the dangers of betting illegally. According to the AGA, 48% of all consumers will change their attitude towards illegal operators once they know they are illegal.

The second step is to give consumers enough opportunities closer to home that are in line with what they expect and need. Spreading news about legal betting in each state is also another way to change consumer behavior and shift to legitimate betting sites.

Interestingly, support for legalizing gambling is 90% or higher among three main groups of gamblers, including core gamblers (96%), casual gamblers (90%), and potential gamblers (97%).

You may check AGA’s entire factsheet here.


Jerome is a welcome new addition to the Gambling News team, bringing years of journalistic experience within the iGaming sector. His interest in the industry begun after he graduated from college where he played in regular local poker tournaments which eventually lead to exposure towards the growing popularity of online poker and casino rooms. Jerome now puts all the knowledge he's accrued to fuel his passion for journalism, providing our team with the latest scoops online.

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