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What do U.S. Bettors Really Want? 7 Key Findings From New Sports Betting Survey

Sports betting fans

In April this year, HPL Digital Sport surveyed American sports bettors to understand what matters to them and to learn more about what U.S. sportsbooks ought to be doing to provide a better betting experience for their users.

The study was conducted by YouGov and included 822 sports bettors in the United States. Visit hpldigitalsport.com to get access to the survey.

The survey categorized its participant by age, so this chart might be useful as a reminder of which group each of us belong to.

Gen Z1997 – 20129 – 24
Millennials1981 – 199625 – 40
Gen X1965 – 198041 – 56
Boomers II1955 – 196457 – 66
Boomers I1946 – 195467 – 75
Post War1928 – 194576 – 93
WW II1922 – 192794 – 99
Categorization by age group

Below are a few interesting findings from the survey.

#1. 17% bet on sports every day

The gap between U.S. bettors who said they bet at least once per day, week, and month was small: 17%, 19%, and 22%, respectively. This number can be compared with those in the UK where 30% say they bet on sports at least once per week

Interestingly, the largest group, 37%, said they only bet on major events such as Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, and World Series, and so on.

Perhaps most insightful: 7% responded that they were new to sports betting and had only made their first sports bet in the last 6 months.

#2. 37% of sports bettors still use offshore books

While it is encouraging for us sports betting proponents to see that as many as 32% of bettors bet legally in their state, 20% use offshore sites, and 17% go via a bookie.

This data is not surprising, however, and while sports betting has been legal since May 2018, we have a long way to go before sports bettors have moved over to legal U.S. sports sites.

One part to kick offshore betting habits is through education and awareness. In fact, as many as 60% of bettors said that they would be more likely to bet on sports if they knew where the tax revenue would go.

It is, then, up to each state to make sure it’s clear where tax money is being reinvested so that local bettors are aware of how betting on legal sportsbooks can benefit their communities (as opposed to offshore books).

#3. Brand trust is the most important thing when choosing a sportsbook

47% of bettors participating in the survey said that brand reputation and trust are critical factors in deciding which app or betting site to use. Interestingly, the betting product was the 2nd most important factor: only 45% of bettors thought the quality of the betting product and the experience were deciding factors when picking one book instead of another.

Brand trust was particularly important with the Boomers, with 56% of participants rating brand trust and reputation as the most important retention factor (Who are the Boomers? >>) but brand loyalty seems to be somewhat of a challenge across the board as 4 of out 10 bettors use up to 3 different sites to bet on.

The takeaway here is that sportsbooks need to nail both aspects by having a solid brand backed up with a superior betting experience. Easy!

#4. Bettors want tailored promotions and personalized messaging

30% thought that the current offers that sportsbooks provide lack uniqueness and appear to more or less the same for all bettors, from all sportsbooks. There is no brand differentiation and sportsbooks might benefit from rethinking their strategies and speak to new and existing customers in a more tailored manner.

The question is what that promotional aspect of customer acquisition will look like, and we are curious to see the strategies the books are going to create in order to offer “bettor promotions” in the future.

#5. Odds and promotions are not that important for Millennials and Gen Z

For the older generation of sports bettors, odds and promotion matter. For bettors who are born in 1981 or later, the social aspects of betting ranked higher.

There was a conspicuous difference between the generations. When asked about the significance of odds and promotions, 50% of Boomers said it was an essential part of their betting experience, compared to Gen Z where only 38% listed these more traditional betting elements as significant.

Professionals representing the leading sportsbooks brands were also included in the survey and prompted to answer questions about their marketing strategies. When asked about what makes their brand positioning and communication tactics ineffective, 22% responded that they didn’t fully understand their audience well enough to market to them in the most effective way(!).

#6. 33% of sports bettors are women

This is a 5-point increase from earlier figures: a study carried out in 2020 showed that 28% of bettors were women. While men represent a larger group, it’s clear that sportsbooks need to think about how to best market and retain women bettors or they could lose a significant portion of the U.S. sports betting market.

The survey showed that women are more inclined to pay for access to betting analytics tools: 20% compared to 15% for men. Perhaps one way to market to women and attract new sports bettors is via bespoke, targeted content and useful betting analytics tools.

In the UK, 41% of gamblers are women, but that group also includes casino, bingo, and other types of gambling. It will be interesting to see the U.S. statistics when including the other markets too in future surveys.

#7. Social betting is more important than in-play betting

When asked about which new betting experiences would be the most important, social betting ranked higher than live betting, loyalty programs, and even in-stadium betting.

While most industry experts probably would have expected in-play betting to be ranked at the very top of the list of things that make U.S. bettors tick, the social aspects of sports betting ranked the highest.

Social media as a tool for sports betting was not important for all bettors, however. Gen X and Boomers rated social media lowest on the scale of retention – 22% and 14% respectively – while both Gen Z and Millennials listed how interacting and consuming sports betting content on social media platforms was the most important factor when choosing to stick with a sportsbook.

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