Fewer than one-third of Americans (31 percent) believe it's morally wrong to bet on sports, and yet nearly half of respondents (49 percent) to a new survey on sports gambling don't want it to be legal nationwide.
"Clearly, people perceive a harm to society that goes beyond the wager itself," said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research, the firm behind the survey.
These findings highlight tensions surrounding sports gambling as fans prepare for one of the biggest athletic events of the year: the Super Bowl. In 2014, $119 million in bets were placed on the game in Las Vegas, according to SB Nation.
LifeWay Research's survey specifically asked about the daily fantasy sports betting sites FanDuel and Draft Kings, which became a major NFL storyline this season when allegations of unfair dealing surfaced. States like New York, Nevada and Illinois have banned the websites, as USA Today reported in December.
Forty-seven percent of respondents told LifeWay Research that daily fantasy sports sites should be legal, and 46 percent said they should be illegal. Seven percent of respondents were unsure, LifeWay Research reported.
The new data also comes in the wake of a highly publicized investigation by BuzzFeed News and the BBC into suspicious gambling in the world of professional tennis. The article claimed that around 16 players, some of whom are active at this month's Australian Open tennis tournament, have fixed their matches in order to earn money on the side.
"Players are being targeted in hotel rooms at major tournaments and offered $50,000 or more per fix by corrupt gamblers," BuzzFeed News and the BBC reported.
Opposition to sports gambling runs highest among people of faith, LifeWay Research noted. "Almost six in 10 (people) with evangelical beliefs say sports betting should not be legalized throughout the country, and 57 percent believe daily fantasy sports should be illegal," the survey reported.
However, religious Americans were only slightly more likely than others to view sports gambling as immoral, with 36 percent of Christians believing betting on sports is morally wrong, according to LifeWay research.
"We don't see any majority in any group saying it's morally wrong to bet on sports," McConnell said.
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