Survey: How Widespread is Insider Sports Betting?

insider betting

With a number of high-profile insider betting scandals rocking the emergent world of legal sports gambling, questions of the breadth and depth of insider betting are plaguing sports fans, the media, and the league officials tasked with creating punitive measures and keeping the integrity of sporting events front and center.

Whether it’s NBA player Jontay Porter, Los Angeles Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani’s interpreter, or Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali, allegations of insider betting have affected professional athletes in the U.S. as well as abroad.

Because fixing, flopping, and feigning injuries can be difficult to prove, and because regulation is being meted out as situations of dubious ethical and moral behavior arise, connecting the dots between performance, payouts, and punishment is far from an exact science.

In light of this, we set out to gain an understanding of public assumptions and attitudes towards sports betting in the wake of these highly-publicized scandals. To do so, conducted a nationwide survey in asking 1,205 Americans about their experience with online sports betting as well as opinions on legalized sports betting and insider sports betting.

Key highlights:

  • More than half (57%) of respondents believe insider betting is widespread among professional sporting leagues.
  • 61% don’t trust that sports leagues are effectively monitoring and enforcing rules against insider betting.
  • More than one-third (37%) believe additional sports betting scandals within the NBA will be exposed before the end of the 2023-24 season, while 34% believe insider betting scandals will be exposed within the MLB this season.
  • 36% believe insider betting affected the outcome of Super Bowl LVII.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (69%) believe referees have been involved in insider betting.
  • Almost half (49%) said they would stop watching sports altogether if match-fixing were found to be common practice.

How Widespread is Insider Sports Betting?

Insider Sports Betting

Sports fans are already skeptical of the integrity of the matches they’re watching – 57% of respondents believe that insider betting is widespread within professional sports, while a further 28% said they “aren’t sure.” When asked directly about athletes’ complicity through poor performance, 40% said they believe professional athletes purposely perform poorly to manipulate outcomes of their games.

Among the professional sports leagues, the NBA garners the most skepticism from fans. Nearly three quarters (74%) of respondents said they believe insider betting is most common in the NBA, followed by the NFL (65%), MLB (43%), and the NHL (18%). This could be due in part to the recent headline-grabbing Jontay Porter scandal, which we explore in detail below.

Jontay Porter NBA Betting Scandal

Jontay Porter NBA Betting Scandal

In April 2024, Jontay Porter, who had recently signed with the Toronto Raptors, was issued a lifetime ban from the NBA after the league accused Porter of violating the NBA’s rules by disclosing information regarding his health and gameday viability to sports bettors, and by placing bets himself on at least 13 games under an associate’s online betting account.

According to the investigation, a sports bettor associated with Porter placed an $80,000 parlay prop bet, wagering that the Raptors player would underperform during the March 20 game.

More than 4-in-10 (41%) of respondents believe Porter would not have been caught if the wager was a smaller amount. Overall, a majority (78%) agree with the NBA’s lifetime ban, and only 17% feel dissuaded from sports betting after the Porter accusations.

The banning has served as a watershed moment in the new landscape of legalized sports betting, drawing discordant opinions from sports media and executives on the practice and ethics thereof, so we asked survey respondents directly on this case.

Match-Fixing in Professional Sports

Match-Fixing in Professional Sports

While nearly half (49%) of all respondents say they would stop watching sports entirely if they discovered match-fixing was widespread, and over 8-in-10 respondents (83%) say sports would be less popular if outcomes were known to be fixed, suspicions of fixing are already present among fans.

When asked about the likelihood of insider betting playing a part in the outcomes of recent championship games, over a third (35.9%) of respondents believe insider betting affected the outcome of Super Bowl LVIII, over a quarter (25.7%) believe it affected the outcome of the 2023 NBA Championship, and 18.5% believe it affected the outcome of the 2023 World Series.

College sports are not immune – over 1-in-5 respondents (22.2%) believe the 2024 NCAA men’s championship basketball game was impacted by insider betting.

Looking ahead, over a third of respondents (34.4%) predict that this year’s NBA Finals will be impacted by insider betting, and a similar percentage (34.2%) predict that upcoming Super Bowl LIX will also be affected. Meanwhile, 41% believe insider betting will affect the outcome of the 2023-24 NBA playoffs.

Sports Betting Transparency

Insider Betting Regulation

With the legalization of sports betting, leagues have instituted or retained their own monitoring and enforcement services, but is enough being done?

Overall, 61% of survey respondents said they do not trust that leagues are effectively monitoring and enforcing rules against insider betting, and it may be down to the recent widespread legality of the practice – 85% of respondents say the legalization of betting has opened the floodgates for insider betting to occur, undermining the rationale that legalization increases effective monitoring.

Insider Betting Punishment

Once insider betting is uncovered, how should individuals and organizations respond? With many leagues handling punishment internally and gambling laws primarily regulated at the state level (with 38 states legalizing the practice to date), there’s no universal standard for addressing sports gambling infractions.

According to our survey respondents, more comprehensive regulation is the answer. Overall, 70% agree that a federal law should be passed to regulate all sports gambling in the U.S., and 92% say punishment should be stricter for athletes and personnel involved with insider betting scandals.

For those punishments, 73% of respondents are in favor of levying fines or financial penalties against the offender, 72% are in favor of lifetime bands, and 42% agree that a suspension would suffice. On the lighter end of the spectrum, 32% say offenders should take on mandatory community service to promote sports integrity, and 29% should become involved in gambling awareness programs.

How Many Americans Bet on Sports?

How Many Americans Bet on Sports

Among respondents surveyed, over a third (34%) say they have wagered money on sports online within the last year. Within that group, 27% say their average wager is less than $10, 34% wager between $10 and $25 dollars, 15% wager between $25 and $50, 13% wager between $50 and $100, and 11% of respondents say their average wager is over $100.

With federal laws regulating sports gambling in the United States remaining a distant prospect, the nearly $11 billion sports betting industry is at the mercy of state laws, private regulators and public opinion.

It is clear that survey respondents overwhelmingly support more stringent and comprehensive guidelines surrounding sports betting, and similarly clear that appetites for sports consumption will likely dwindle if fixing scandals proliferate.

That said, many suggested they believe that scandals have taken place, and while this year’s Super Bowl was an event many of our respondents (35.9%) agreed was impacted by insider betting, the game set viewership records, as 123.7 million people tuned in to watch the Kansas City Chiefs take down the San Francisco 49ers.

It seems lurking suspicions aren’t enough to throw off fans yet. But “yet” is a term that crops up time and again in the conversation around the nascent and disorderly world of legalized sports betting. As Bill Bradley, a basketball Hall of Famer, told The New York Times months before the Jontay Porter story disrupted the headlines, “Well, there hasn’t been a scandal, yet…”.


In April 2024, we conducted a nationwide survey to gather insight into Americans’ experiences with online sports betting and their opinions on legalized sports betting. The survey sample comprised 1,205 participants selected from diverse demographic backgrounds across the United States.

Sample Characteristics:
  • Demographics: The survey respondents included 49% females, 49% males, and 1% identifying as non-binary/non-conforming.
  • Age Distribution: The average age of the respondents was 39 years.
  • Sports Viewing Habits: Among the participants, 70% reported regularly watching sports.
  • Limitations: The survey responses rely on self-reporting, which may be subject to recall bias or social desirability bias.

The collected data underwent quantitative analysis to identify trends, patterns, and correlations related to online sports betting behavior and opinions on legalized sports betting.

Income: Under $25,000 (15%); $25,000-$34,999 (10%); $35,000-$49,999 (11%); $50,000-$74,999 (24%); $75,000-$99,999 (15%); $100,000 or over (25%).

Fair Use: Feel free to use this data and research with proper attribution linking to this study.

Sources: American Gaming Association Commercial Gaming Revenue Tracker, S&P Global, Nielsen