Changes in US Gambling Laws to Boost TV Viewership, Say, Researchers

Legal gambling makes television programming more watchable. That is the consensus of a study published by the National Research Group (NRG). Researchers say networks like Fox Sports and ESPN can expect a boost in viewership in light of recent changes to US gambling laws.

The study confirmed that sports betting fuels engagement in games, with 79 percent of gamblers reporting they plan to watch more sports live once legal betting becomes available in their state. A slightly smaller majority (63 percent) said they would watch sports they don't typically follow just for the fun of betting.

The majority of respondents in the NRG poll said they plan to bet on NFL and NBA games. The study looked into how many television viewers are currently betting. According to survey results, 42 percent of sports fans that watch on television are presently making illegal bets. The average amount a TV viewer bets during a game is $82 per wager.

Of the group of television viewers who do not currently bet on sports, 27 percent said they plan to place wagers once it becomes legal on a national level. NRG conducted the study before last month's Supreme Court decision to allow states to legalize sports betting individually.

The poll included 1,010 Americans. Male respondents were more likely to approve sports betting legalization than women – 69 percent of men compared to 51 percent of women.

Will legal sports betting be the change that finally helps broadcast television recover from the loss of viewers to online sports streaming? Not likely – the trend away from TV is more influential every day with the growth of streaming sites like Twitch.

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