ESPN poll: 63 percent of pro athletes think sports betting should be legal

The majority of major league athletes are open to legal sports betting.
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An ESPN poll of 73 NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB players revealed that the majority, 63 percent of those who responded, believed sports betting should be legal.

The poll also revealed other information about gambling among professional athletes. More than half, some 58 percent, said they gambled on other things, while a significantly smaller share, 34 percent of respondents, said they gambled on other sports.

Although just 37 percent said they suspected a current or former teammate of having a gambling problem, 41 percent of those who answered believed that legal sports betting would be a challenge to their sports' integrity.

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Less than half, only 42 percent, said they were aware of point spreads, and just one-tenth said they had heard of a player in their sport being approached for information about injuries. Only three percent of those who responded said they ever had suspicions that their games were fixed; another three percent said they sometimes suspected that their games were rigged.

Asked about one-day gambling totals, the average response was $1,673 wagered, while the highest answer given was $30,000.

Many of the athletes revealed that they often wagered on non-sports challenges. More than one NHL player reported betting on rock-paper-scissors matches. Multiple NBA players said they bet on whether they would be able to get a girl.

Other bets included the gallon of milk challenge, a snake race at a grandmother's house, and eating skin shaving and toenail clippings.

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Sports betting remains illegal in most of the country, although NBA commissioner Adam Silver recently revealed himself to be the only major league commissioner to support it, albeit as a highly regulated practice.

Recent efforts have also attempted to allow it in New Jersey, though a bill there to legalize was met with a federal injunction preventing implementation.

- Christopher Woody