Sports Betting Insight

Sports Betting Insight

With UEFA Euro 2016 just around the corner, takes a closer look at where the multi-billion dollar sports betting industry fits in the overall online gambling landscape

While it is almost impossible to estimate the true value of the sports betting industry due to the lack of consistency in which it is regulated worldwide, even the most conservative of analysts would probably concede that its net worth is somewhere in the region of $700-$1,000 billion US dollars.

According to H2 Gambling Capital, sports betting currently accounts for 13% of the global gambling market and is also one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry due to the proliferation of online bookmakers and sports betting apps, which offer access to all-new in-play wagering options.

Though traditionally a pastime that required customers to enter a bricks and mortar bookmaking establishment and physically place a bet, the new trend for online sports betting has seen an entirely new demographic of sports bettors attracted to the industry through promotions and advertising.

So which individuals make up this new breed of gambler and what events are they choosing to invest their money in? Over the course of this article, we’ll take a closer look at the profile of the modern sports bettor in a bid to dispel some of the long-standing stereotypes that have cropped up over the years, while also seeing where the largest proportion of their annual spend is likely to take place.

Dispelling The Myth

Close your eyes for a minute and try to picture what a typical sports bettor looks like. If you’re not from an online gambling background, the chances are the stereotype your mind creates is one of a middle-aged man – possibly down on his luck – standing at the side of a racetrack in a tatty overcoat.

Statistics in a 2008 Gallop poll and latterly a survey conducted by the American Gaming Association in 2013 reveal that this notion actually couldn’t be further from the truth. Indeed, in the aforementioned Gallop poll, only 11% of American sports bettors were 55 years or older, with an aggregated percentage of both studies indicating a quarter of punters are aged between 18 and 35.

While both studies confirm that sports betting is predominantly a male activity with just 7% of women polled admitting to have placed a bet on a sporting event, there is no doubt this percentage is on the up when you consider the increased availability of online betting apps in 2016. This figure rises further when you consider many women will also bet on one-off events like the Super Bowl.

Now to the idea that sports betting is somehow targeted at the poor and hopeless. Both studies conceded that the majority of sports betting was undertaken by middle class individuals earning a then-average annual income. Furthermore, the Gallop pole suggested that college graduates were – at the time – 10% more likely to bet on sport; hardly the Ivy Leaguer you pictured earlier, right?

Sports Betting Demographics

  • 25% - Over a quarter of sports betting enthusiasts fall in the 18-35 age range
  • 7% - Of those surveyed, only 7% of women had placed a bet on a sporting event
  • $30,000-$75,000 - The largest share of sports bettors polled had an average annual income
  • 10% - College graduates are 10% more likely to engage in sports betting
  • 45% - In the US, football accounts for almost half of all sports betting activity

Sources: Gallop Poll (2008)/American Gaming Association Study (2013)

United By Sport

If we are now prepared to accept that the majority of sports bettors these days are young, educated and upwardly-mobile individuals who rely on their smarts and money-management skills to beat the bookmakers, the fact remains that we must still identify which events they are most likely to bet on.

As you can see from the bullets list below, major international sporting events result in some of the biggest spikes in sports betting annually, and this can be accounted for by a number of factors. First and foremost, events like the FIFA Football World Cup have cross-national appeal, uniting people from a number of countries where sports betting is legal to create a huge cumulative betting spend.

Secondly, the increased media focus on these events naturally results in a flurry of advertising designed to attract new customers. Undoubtedly incorporating regionally-specific offers to engender a sense of patriotism in customers’ betting habits, these major tournaments give sports bettors a vested interest in not just the success of their nations, but also the effect it will have on their wallets.

Finally, despite featuring a series of individual matches, these tournaments are largely considered one-off events where new customers can be attracted. The logic goes that even if you’re not a regular sports bettor, watching an event like this year’s UEFA Euro 2016 tournament will be more fun if you have money riding on it, and most promotions are built to take advantage of this fact.

Biggest Sports Betting Series

  • FIFA Football World Cup
  • UEFA European Championship
  • ICC Cricket World Cup
  • International Rugby World Cup
  • The Grand National (Aintree Festival)

The Future Of Sports Betting

While major international tournaments and racing meets are singularly the biggest earners for the online bookmakers, the reality is that their daily bread and butter comes from regular season games. The Premier League, for example, is the most widely-viewed competition globally and dwarves the gambling spend on all other sports combined across the United Kingdom and most parts of Europe.

In America, meanwhile, the NFL is king, with over 45% of all bets placed on the country’s football league and the NBA accounting for the second-largest share with 28%. Online gambling restrictions in the US, however, make it impossible to bet on sports in all but a handful of states, with the illegal sports betting industry estimated to be worth as much as $500 million by some industry experts.

Naturally this needs to change in order to ensure gamblers are protected and the proceeds of sports betting aren’t being put towards more nefarious ends, but with laws governed on a state-by-state basis, the road towards more progressive legislation is highly likely to be a long and winding one.

As a result, one of the fastest-growing gambling sectors in the US is Daily Fantasy Sports which – being defined as a game of skill – is exempt from the ban on sports betting activities. Capitalising on this huge gap in the market, DFS allows sports bettors to compete with fellow players in a variety of contests and has already proved a huge success, with two major sites recently launching in the UK.

Should they take off in the same way they did in America, DFS may have a significant bearing on the sports betting landscape, but for now major tournament betting remains the opiate of the masses.

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