One in eight people in the UK placed a bet on the recent World Cup, including 1.3 new gamblers – good news for sports betting companies.
Before the World Cup, most people in England were not very optimistic about their team’s chances. The consensus was the last 16 – “maybe the quarter-finals if we’re lucky.”
But as the team progressed, and the draw opened up for them, confidence increased and so – according to a recent survey by YouGov – did the betting interest in the World Cup, with 12% of people in the UK reported to have had a bet on the tournament.
Who won the battle of the betting companies?
YouGov surveyed 2,061 adults in the UK and found that 30% of them placed a bet with Skybet during the tournament. Runner-up was Paddy Power with 24%, with Bet365 on 22%. Making up the numbers were Betfair with 18%, William Hill on 17% and Ladbrokes on 16%.
Thinking back to the World Cup, that roughly reflects the biggest six advertisers over the four weeks of the tournament – although the suits at Corals, Betway, and Betfred might well be wondering if they got the right amount of return for their advertising spend.
Interestingly, the YouGov survey suggests that around a sixth of those people placing a bet were new gamblers, attracted by introductory offers.
Plenty of new customers
That represents an impressive return for the sports betting companies: the population of the UK is currently put at around 65m – 12% of that figure is 7.8m people placing a bet on the World Cup, with 1.3m being new gamblers. Even if the bookmakers did not have a profitable World Cup, it looks like the tournament has brought them plenty of new customers, with the special offers clearly working. One-third of the people surveyed by YouGov said that they opened a new account to take advantage of special offers.
To no one’s surprise, the survey reported that three times as many bets were placed online as in traditional betting shops – suggesting that the bookmakers are successfully targeting the younger demographic their ads are clearly aimed at.
It was not just the UK that saw an upsurge in gambling during the World Cup – one of my colleagues has written about betting in Italy breaking all records during the tournament, despite the Azzurri not even qualifying for Russia.
Would this trend continue if gambling advertising were banned? We may well be about to find out with the new coalition government in Italy remaining committed to banning gambling ads – something many left-wing politicians in the UK will undoubtedly be pushing for if they come to power. But gambling – at least in the UK – now appears to be an integral part of the “matchday experience”.
The World Cup may not have given an immediate boost to the bottom line of the sports betting companies, but in the long run, it may have given them something far more valuable: new customers. With the bookmakers using increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence to track gamblers’ behavior and target special offers, new customers are becoming ever more valuable to them.
With the 2020 Euros less than two years away – and the semi-finals and final due to be played in London – UK viewers can expect to see a continuing stream of ads from the bookmakers. And plenty of special offers arriving in their inboxes…