While it remains in a legal grey area or downright illegal in some parts of the world, sports betting has been legalized in many jurisdictions. This includes in over 33 states in the United States, and in Massachusetts, which in January 2023 became the latest territory to legalize it. In the US, sports betting has been legal now for about five years and an entire industry has emerged around it. Sportsbooks allow bettors to watch, analyze, and wager on their favorite teams; game developers create fantasy sports teams; sportsbooks offer teams and players sponsorship deals; and more. But perhaps the greatest effect the legalization of sports betting has had on society is on how fans experience the game. Here is a closer look at how the fan experience has transformed due to this.
Experts argue that the ability to not only watch a game but actually bet on the outcome on platforms like Betway has made sporting events more exciting. Fans do not just put on their favorite jerseys and sing on the stands as their teams go head to head on the field anymore. Instead, they keenly follow all the plays, the pitches, the goals, the time, the scores, the players, and more.
This excitement, and the fact that many fans often have money riding on the game, has also increased match attendance. Fans want to be closer to the action and are likely to eschew a lazy Sunday watching the game on TV for a thrill-filled foray into the stadium.
Pew Research reports that there has been a marked increase in legal betting amongst sports fans. According to the study, about 7 in every 10 men and 56 percent of adults in the US have recently read something about the proliferation of sports betting. This seems to have changed the conversation.
Rather than simply cover the game, major publications and sports channels now report on wagering statistics. The odds suggested by oddsmakers are now clearly showcased next to the time and date of the game because fans want to know where the action is.
This kind of coverage has found a large following among sports bettors. ESPN even launched a show in 2019 called “Daily Wager” and announced more betting content in September 2022. And fans are interacting with this content, which is what is driving its creation, including on YouTube and other sites.
According to the AGA, 18 percent of adults in the United States planned to bet on sporting events during the 2022-23 season. This represents over 46 million people. But according to the VP for research at AGA, the sports betting demographic is very different from the makeup of traditional gamblers.
Sports betting seems to be held in higher regard in many areas, having a somewhat elevated status over traditional gambling, such as playing poker or craps. The AGA explains that most sports bettors are male, young, and high-income earners. The legalization of sports betting seems to be drawing in previously uninterested parties into sports and sports betting fandom.
One bittersweet effect of sports betting legalization is shifting allegiances. Previously, sports fans were loyally glued to their teams – they attended all home games, wore the team colors, knew the anthems and mascots, and more. And while this remains the case in many cases, bettors are finding that their allegiances sometimes follow the team on which they have wagered.
It is no secret that your team will not always win a game. And during those games when bettors have wagered on other more promising teams, their loyalties are more aligned with the favorite. This has seemed to create a kind of open-mindedness previously unseen in sports fandom where people can be happy about a team other than their own winning a game.
Sports betting platforms often feature a wide variety of games. Bettors can bet on football, American football, basketball, tennis, MMA, and more. This varied catalogue has helped many sports fans widen their horizons and discover other games. Previous football-only fans have reported wagering on a new sport like tennis, watching a game to see more of the action, and turning into fans of the game.
Over time, legalized sports betting will continue to have an impact on different parts of the sporting world. When it comes to fandom, it has changed how fans experience the game, including how they talk about it. You are more likely to hear fans discuss the point spread, assists, and last plays of a game than the weather at the stadium. Experts maintain that sports betting will not change sports itself since people have been gambling for decades. But it will be exciting to see how it continues to shape the fan experience.