Sports betting demographics in the U.S.

Feb 28, 2024

Sports betting has become immensely popular in United States culture, and according to forecasters it is just getting started.

A wide variety of Americans participate in placing wagers on sports such as NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and countless other leagues. However, who are the types of people most likely to bet on sports?

This article will take a deep dive into the demographics of sports betting, dive into general gambling cohorts and investigate gambling addiction trends and statistics.

Who is betting on sports the most? 

The demographic of sports bettors tends to be young, male and wealthy. According to Ipsos, 39% of bettors are under the age of 35, and 69% of bettors are male. Additionally, more than half (51%) of sports bettors are white and 44% have an income of $100k or more.

The people who bet on sports the most are those who are very engaged in sports. 84% of sports bettors report being fans of a particular sports team. Furthermore, 67% of sports bettors attended a live sporting event in 2022 (study took place in ‘23). There is also a lot of crossover between sports betting and participating in fantasy sports, as 62% of sports bettors played fantasy sports in the past year. 

As far as what sports Americans are betting on, the most popular league by far is the NFL. According to Rotowire, most sportsbooks in America estimate that up to 70% of their annual handle comes from NFL games. This overwhelmingly shows that either NFL fans - or just bettors who like the NFL - are betting the most money on those contests. 

General gambling demographics

AGA research from October 2023 found that more Americans than ever are participating in gaming over the past twelve months. The research shows that nearly half of all Americans (49%) participated in some form of gambling in the past year (AGA).

The lottery is similar to sports betting in the sense that it is extremely popular among Americans but has a different demographic of players. The player base consists of lower-income, nonwhite and less educated males (per Vox). For some background, Americans spent $117 billion dollars on the lottery in 2023. One out of eight Americans buy a lottery ticket once a week. Furthermore, the top 20-30% of lottery players account for 70-80% of the national lottery sales. 
Here are some general gambling statistics & demographics:

  • In 2023 alone, a staggering $49.36 billion was wagered from slot machines and table games. 

  • More than a quarter of adults (26%) gambled at a physical casino in the past year, while 20% placed a sports bet (AGA).

  • Men (69%) gamble twice as much as women (36%) in the United States (per Playtoday).

Gambling addiction demographics, statistics & trends

Gambling addiction has spiked in recent years since gambling was legalized. In New Jersey, calls to the state’s addiction hotline grew significantly after it became one of the first states to legalize sports betting in 2018. In that year, about 5% of the hotline’s calls were related to sports gambling. Sports betting calls made up a quarter of the hotline’s calls four years later in 2022 (Ipsos)

Prior research from Welte et al., shows that 1-2% of the U.S. adult population will experience gambling addiction totaling 2 to 4 million people. Another 5 to 9 million people (3%-5%) will report a subclinical problem, meaning that some gambling disorder symptoms are present but a psychiatric diagnosis is not warranted (Welte et al.). Most studies found about 1-2% of the population experiencing gambling addiction, but this number could be higher due to outdated and underfunded national research

The demographics for those who are at risk for gambling disorder are also men, specifically young males. Additionally, those with a parent that have a gambling problem are more likely to have gambling problems themselves. According to Yale Medicine, it’s estimated that a gambling disorder’s development is 50% due to genetic factors and 50% due to environmental factors. People with gambling disorders often also abuse alcohol and other drugs or have a mood/personality disorder.

Gambling Addiction help and resources

If you or a loved one are suffering from gambling addiction, there are resources to help. Birches Health provides personal and confidential treatment from some of the best specialists in the industry. Birches Health also believes that cost should not be a barrier to receive the treatment you need. 

Call (833) 483-3838 or email hello@bircheshealth.com to learn more and take a free assessment.

SOURCES:

Sports bettors are some of the biggest fans of the sporting world. But the public isn't fully sold on legalizing sports betting. Here's what exclusive Ipsos data finds.

Which Is The Sport Americans Bet On Most?

Gambling and Problem Gambling in the United States: Changes Between 1999 and 2013 | Journal of Gambling Studies

​​Gambling Addiction Is Now at an All-Time High | Money

What the lottery sells — and who pays 

Gambling Disorder > Fact Sheets > Yale Medicine 

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