Did you bet on the Super Bowl this year? If not, chances are someone you know did. According to Roundhill Investments, Super Bowl LV brought in an estimated $500 million of legal wagers placed in the United States, a sharp 67% annual increase from $300 million just a year ago.
With the legalization of sports gambling nationwide well underway and total spend on sports gambling seeing explosive growth, generational patterns amongst sports bettors have presented themselves within this budding industry.
Ever since New Jersey became the pioneer state legalizing sports betting in 2018, the once taboo tone around sports betting continues to shift in favor of vast cultural acceptance as 21 states now have legalized it, including Colorado, Illinois, Oregon and Michigan. When observing different age groups, younger generations’ participation in legal sports gambling has surged, as has their vocality about wagering on sports on social media platforms. This is in direct contrast from a historically more hush-hush taboo practice, as was the case for the years of illegal underground betting. A recent study by Whistle Wise looking into 21-34 year old sports gamblers found that 53% of Gen Z bettors participate in the action socially, with friends or family, compared to just 34% of Millennials surveyed. Conversely, only 40% of Gen Z bettors say they sometimes bet alone compared to 55% of Millennials.
Betting is as much of a social setting activity when watching live sports as it is a strategized endeavor. Sports betting today is echoing the reminiscences of when day-trading financial markets first became mainstream, as bettors are entering these markets with a plan in mind and intent to come out on top. With platforms across the web offering betting trend analytics, televised sports shows on major networks more comfortably displaying and discussing implied odds, and friends/coworkers casually discussing the lines of upcoming games, more and more sports bettors are building strategies to attack the extremely difficult task of beating the books. In fact, Whistle Wise data shows that 70% of Gen Z bet with a clear strategy in mind, a significant 35% increase over Millennials.
Your Book is Your Business
Younger generations may generally be more savvy than their elders at finding tools and analytics to use in order to beat the odds, but they also may not have yet been met with the often humbling reality of the age old saying, “the house always wins.” Nonetheless, because of its more culturally accepted nature to engage in these markets, Gen Z is also more comfortable labeling their participation, whether rational or not, as a form of entrepreneurship. Whistle Wise found that 7 in 10 of Gen Z bettors consider sports gambling as a form of entrepreneurship. Similar to financial market trading, your “book” is your business.
In it Together
Win or lose, Gen Z’s casual comfort in discussing sports betting among their peers, far more so than older generations, keeps the conversation going and only helps the growth prospects of the industry. Whistle Wise found that Gen Z bettors are 13% more likely than Millennials to discuss losing a bet. Because of the increased likelihood in a Gen Z sports bettor participating in similar wagers as their friends than older generations, the conversations about sports betting, regardless of successes, only gets more and more amplified.
Eyes on the Game Means Money Up for Grabs
The incorporation of sports betting into the viewer experience undoubtedly has made fans of all ages more engaged. 70% of weekly sports bettors will sit down to watch the full game, whereas only 48% of fans who do not gamble on sports answered as doing so. This bodes well for teams, leagues, networks, and media companies to capitalize on sports fans’ increased retention and invested attention. In a dog eat dog marketplace where sportsbook brands are competing for individuals’ attention and ultimately their wallet, the fan’s increased commitment and focus to the screen is an immensely valuable insight for marketing teams.
Why Leagues and Teams Who Move Quickly on Gambling Will Win
Given this impressive customer attention, sports gambling players in the industry need to better focus on standing out relative to their competitors. Whistle Wise reports that 83% of Gen Z agree that being able to bet on a sports league makes them more likely to be a fan of the league, meaning that leagues and teams that understand these trends will have a leg up when turning young sports gamblers into lifelong fans. Additional generational data shows that Gen Z are more likely than Millennials to bet on games that they normally would not watch without sports gambling. Unlike Millennials, who gamble on the game they are already predisposed to watching, Gen Z are channel and website surfing and getting in on the action of a variety of different games and sports. This should be a call to action to anyone and everyone in the sports industry looking to expand their fanbase, as sports gambling is the ticket to a younger and more diverse audience.
Whistle Wise’s full research report into Gen Z’s sports gambling habits can be seen HERE
Tommy Walters leads consumer research at Team Whistle. with a focus on better understanding Gen Z, digital media, and content consumption.
Learn more about the crossover power of sports betting and content at Hashtag Sports LIVE, on May 12-13.