Sports & Entertainment

5 Things to Know About the State of Sports Gambling

Across the globe, sports fans have been missing out on the action with their favorite teams sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though restrictions are beginning to loosen and leagues like the NBA and NHL have announced plans to return, the reality is that things are going to be drastically different at first. Seventy-two percent of Americans said that they wouldn’t feel safe attending live events without a coronavirus vaccine, which only further cements the notion that athletes will be playing in front of empty arenas for the foreseeable future.

With all that lost revenue from ticket sales, leagues, rightsholders, and other affiliates will have to rethink the game experience as fans watch from afar. One area poised to profit? The world of sports gambling. Below, we take a look at the latest developments in the industry, some basics on bettors, and what it will take to win consumers over.


Horse racing is a long-time favorite of sports bettors


Legal Landscape

To date, sports gambling is legal in 22 states and Washington, D.C. However, that’s expected to change this year as states like California, Louisiana, and Maryland expedite legislation surrounding sports gambling to ease financial pressures from the pandemic. New Jersey is one such state that has benefitted from the increase in tax revenues. In 2019, the state brought in over $100 million in sports gambling tax dollars, with an estimated 20% coming from out-of-staters in New York.

Though the pandemic has hurt the sports industry on the whole, it may very well accelerate sports gambling’s push toward the mainstream. With fans likely to be watching from home when teams return to play (and little else on television), there’s a particular opportunity to engage them from the couch where betting is legal.


Basics on Sports Bettors

It should come as no surprise that there’s a major overlap between sports bettors and fantasy sports players. In fact, 89% of sports bettors say they play fantasy sports. But, what else do we know about bettors and their behavior? Over half of sports bettors have a bachelor’s degree (compared to 33% of the general population), but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re all high-rollers. Almost 70% of bettors make less than $100K each year and only 6% make more than $200K. Accordingly, there’s a huge chunk (51%) who view sports betting as an alternate source of income.


Sports gambling continues to rise as states accelerate legislative measures.


Moving Toward Mobile

Though 22 states have legalized sports gambling, only six of them currently have mobile gambling in place. As you might expect, mobile gambling is the next frontier of major growth for sports gambling because it removes any barriers to entry that might be there with in-person establishments. The numbers support that, too; in New Jersey alone, 84% of bets were made from a mobile device in 2019.


Choosing a Platform

While loyalty can certainly be tested by an event like the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains true that sports bettors play favorites with their chosen platforms. So, what is it that consumers are craving? According to HPL Digital Sport, bettors’ top concerns in choosing a platform include ease of getting payouts (63%), security (62%), and brand reputation (54%). Forty-six percent also strongly agree that they would choose a betting platform if it has a mobile app. Therefore, platforms should make sure to hone in on these messaging points in order to draw in new consumers.


Content Creation

One of the biggest trends within the world of sports betting is the continued emphasis on content. Penn National Gaming’s acquisition of Barstool Sports and William Hill’s partnership with CBS Sports are signs of an effort to provide a more robust experience around gambling platforms. That lines up with consumer demand, too. Nearly 70% of sports bettors want betting tips from their platform, 50% want engaging editorial content, and another 34% want to be able to communicate with other users. Going forward, these partnerships not only enhance the overall experience on each betting platform, but they also bring in new audiences and opportunity for growth.

Is your brand looking to win over consumers within the world of sports gambling? Contact us today to learn how our suite of experiential-led services can help you build brand awareness, encourage trial, and earn lifelong loyalists.




Sources: “The State of the New Sports Bettor.” HPL Digital Sport (2020), “Where is Sports Betting Legal?” The Action Network (2020).

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