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Survey: Americans want ability to legally wager in the Super Bowl

Super Bowl 50 viewers not only want to watch the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos this weekend, they want the opportunity to wager on the game as well.

The American Gaming Association said Wednesday that 80 percent of those planning to watch the game want to see the country’s current sports betting laws change. Some two-thirds, or 66 percent of those questioned, believe individual states should have the ability to legalize sports betting.

The research was conducted by The Mellman Group for the Washington, D.C. trade organization. The AGA is exploring “a rational alternative” to the nation’s current sport wagering laws, which legally allows the activity in the just four states, including Nevada.

According to the survey, a majority of Super Bowl viewers believe regulated sports wagering would protect a game’s integrity, benefit communities and enhance consumer safety, and increase fan engagement.

The survey found that 41 percent of Super Bowl viewers said they have bet on the game at some point. An equal number say they have placed some type of sports bet in the past year.

“This first-of-its-kind poll shows clear support among Super Bowl viewers for a state-by-state regulatory approach to sports betting,” said Mellman Group principal Mark Mellman. “If the public had its way, public policy would change.”

The Mellman Group surveyed 800 people between Jan. 25 and 28.

The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act limited legal sports wagering to Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana. Only Nevada offers full-scale sports wagering.

Last week, the American Gaming Association estimated $4.1 billion would be wagered illegally on the Super Bowl this year while roughly $100 million would be bet legally on the game with Nevada sports books. Last year, Nevada casino customers wagered $115.98 million on Super Bowl 49.

The AGA’s announcement in November that it intends to study the implications of current law and build a coalition to determine if rational, legal alternatives exist, was a major policy shift by the organization.

“America’s passion for football is rivaled only by its enthusiasm for sports betting,” AGA CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement. “Fans believe regulated sports betting enhances the game experience, deepens their engagement with their favorite athletes and teams and protects the integrity of games.”

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find @howardstutz on Twitter.

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