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10 Facts About U.S. Sports Bettors

It is now more than one year since the Federal ban on sports betting was repealed and the new U.S. sports betting market started to take shape. With 9 states already on-board, and another 8 in the processing of operationalizing both in-person and online sports betting, bettors all over the country are waiting to see what’s next and which new states are going to introduce regulated sports betting over the coming months and years.

As investors and operators speculate as to how big the sports betting market will be, what can we learn from the sports bettors that have already enjoyed legalized sports wagering since May last year?

Leading sports betting technology and service provider Kambi asked the same question. To answer it, they analyzed their available customer data collected between August 2018 and April this year and shared their results in a webinar entitled “10 things you need to know about the US sports bettor” – we’ve emended the video at the end of this article.

In this short but highly informative webinar, Max Bichsel takes us through their findings.

NOTE: We’ve added our own comments and thoughts below but the key insights are provided by Kambi.

#1: Basketball is the most popular sports among first-time bettors

Basketball is popular

This may be because there are more basketball games than in any other American sport, but professional and college basketball are – perhaps not so surprising – incredibly popular among those interested in sports betting. Operators entering the sports betting space need to have a plan as to how attract these basketball fans and provide a product that inspires but also retains bettors in this space.

#2: 25% of new bets are placed in-game

There is clearly a need for sportsbooks to provide in-game betting as one quarter of novice bettors are interested in-play events such as the next field goal in basketball or shot-by-shot in golf.

Since the sunsetting of PASPA, sports betting in the U.S. is changing and with a new approach to betting with a focus on mobile, offering an exciting in-game playing functionality will be critical for operators who aim to attract a new generation of sports bettors in the coming years.

What makes in-game betting unique is it’s ability to unlock continuous betting and build on the live experience. Bettors can come back after the break and continue to interact with the game until the last bet is called.

#3: U.S. bettors spread their cash on futures markets

When betting in the futures markets, bettors tend to spread their money across multiple teams. In fact, Kambi reports that one in four bettors supported more than one team, and one individual had backed as many as 23 different teams to win the NBA finals!

The key here is continuously offering the right prices and odds and provide a dynamic futures offering with event information updated regularly.

#4 U.S. bettors stake more than 40% compared to U.K punters

Overall, Kambi has seen a significantly higher bet size in the U.S. compared to the U.K. There may be several reasons why bets are higher on this side of the pond:

  1. while in-game is becoming more popular here in the U.S., as mentioned, it is even more common in the U.K
  2. the bonus functions that operators use to acquire players may inflate this number
  3. effective exchange rates

Regardless, the bet size is 41% higher – which is another indication the U.S. market is ready to embrace this new and exciting sports betting landscape.

#5 Most bettors play on more than just the NFL or NBA

One might expect the usual big sports and leagues to get all the attention and bets, but Kambi’s data show that as many as 69% percent of bettors place wagers on what they call “other sports”, such as tennis and golf.

The key takeaway here is that being too narrow and focusing on promoting just the NFL, for instance, might not be the best tactic as bettors are interested in betting on a verity of sports.

#6 The most popular sports are …

Most popular sports

Basketball, football and baseball are clear leaders, as you would expect, but as seen in the graph bettors are interested in other sports too which one shouldn’t lose sight of.

#7 Parlay bets are more popular here than in the U.K

In comparison to punters in the U.K, the majority of U.S. bettors have played parlays: over 60% in the U.S. compared to under 50% in the U.K.

Contrary to popular belief among experts, single wagers and pre-match bets aren’t the only type of wagers U.S. bettors are interested in placing. As an operator it’s therefore critical to ensure cross-sport or cross-player parlays are available.

#8 2/3 of bettors in the U.S. play in-play

In-game betting

It seems like not just first-time bettors are interested in this type of betting but in-play is overall a popular form of wagering – bigger than pre-game only bets.

Astonishingly, in tennis over 70% of all bets that come in over the Kambi network happen during the game! Bettors try to predict the outcome of the next point or the next set, clearly moving away from the more traditional bets where guessing the total outcome at the end of the match. Some examples are tennis where you can bet on each set, and for golf the most popular best are in-play (shot by shot). In basketball you’d have the option on betting on whether the next field goal will be a 2-pointer or a 3-pointer, and so on.

As mentioned, this keeps bettors engaged and it is easy to see how this type of betting might be more exciting to the newer generation of bettors.

#9 U.S. bettors wager more often than those in the U.K

When comparing the top 5% of bettors, in other words, the high-value players who engage with sports betting on a regular basis, Kambi noted that these players bet every 3 days whereas U.K punters placed a wager slightly less frequently: every four days. Note, though, when punters bet they place a higher number of best compared to their American counterparts.

What does this mean for operators? It means not only that they can interact more frequently with customers and inform them on upcoming games or relevant information, but also that taking a British approach to customer interaction and retention can’t necessarily be copied across when speaking to a U.S. customer base.

#10 U.S. bettors prefer to interact with a kiosk vs a teller when betting on-property

75% of bets placed in retail have been placed via kiosk technology at self-service betting terminals.

As some of the findings in this list, this isn’t all that surprising. There reason for the high volume of kiosk users may be that there is sometimes an intimidation factor involved when placing a bet via a teller – especially for novice bettors who aren’t sure what they are doing – which is effectively eliminated by letting bettors interact with a kiosk instead of a human being.

For operators this means that the kiosks need to offer the same range of betting alternatives as provided online and that the betting technology should provide the experience and high standards bettors expect.

In summary

These are the 10 key things Kambi found: basketball is big, bettors like many different sports, in-game is important and so are betting kiosks.

Here is the video from the Webinar:

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