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Poll: Most Americans OK with legal sports betting

Most Americans agree with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s support of legalized betting on sports, according to a Seton Hall University poll.

Fifty-five percent of people surveyed from Nov. 16 to 19 said they agreed with the stand the commissioner took in an op-ed published Nov. 13 in The New York Times, the South Orange, New Jersey-based school said in a news release. In the article, Silver wrote that Congress should adopt a framework to allow betting on sports, which is illegal in all but four states. He said the sports betting world is a “thriving underground business that operates free from regulation or oversight.”

Thirty-three percent of 847 respondents across the U.S. polled by telephone said it shouldn’t be legal to bet on sports, with 72 percent agreeing that betting has become a popular form of entertainment.

Among men, 44 percent support Silver, while 25 percent of women agree with the commissioner. The support shifts among age groups, with 47 percent of those surveyed between 18 and 29 and 35 percent between 30 and 44 backing Silver. From ages 45 to 49, 30 percent supports Silver, while only 26 percent of those over 60 agree, according to the poll, which was conducted by the Sharkey Institute.

Even without legalized gambling, 47 percent of those polled said they believe referees or umpires influence the outcomes of games occasionally or often because of gambling interests. Forty-three percent said they believe athletes influence the outcomes occasionally or often because of gambling interests.

“Those are shockingly high numbers,” Rick Gentile, who directs the poll, said in a statement. “The leagues can’t take this lightly when the very integrity of their sports is a prime responsibility.”

Silver said in his op-ed that any legalized sports betting must come with strict regulations. They include minimum-age verification measures, monitoring of unusual betting-line movements, licensing protocol for operators and mechanisms to identify and exclude people with gambling problems.