Bettors Better-Looking: No Place for Gray Gamblers

Four excited young bettors

I have always enjoyed betting on sports. I’ve had some notable triumphs – Corbiere in the 1983 Grand National, York City running away with the old 4th Division in English football, Wolves winning the Championship last year…

But I’m going to have to quit. Sadly, I’m too old to bet – and I’m not good-looking enough either.

Younger, smarter, richer, better-looking

The data is from the US, but no doubt it’s true of the UK as well, especially if the gambling ads on TV are any guide.

Earlier this week, the American Gaming Association (AGA) released the results of a Nielsen Sports survey aimed at identifying the demographic and behavioral characteristics of the average American sports bettor. And the results could not be clearer: American sports bettors are younger, richer, smarter, and (almost certainly) better-looking than the average American.

Clearly, that is good news for sports betting companies as the legalization of sports betting is rolled out across the US. No one wants to enter a market where the potential customers have no money. Let’s just hope they can do something to weed out the market segment I’ll no doubt be filed in: the “gray gamblers.”

The numbers

Let’s look at the some of the key stats from the Nielsen survey:

  • 44% of sports bettors are under the age of 35, compared to 31% of the general population.
  • Baseball is the most popular sport among this demographic but, taking US bettors as a whole, the NFL leads the way.
  • What the survey describes as “avid bettors” are better off financially than the average American, with 29% reporting a household income of over $100,000 (£77,000) a year, nearly twice the national average.
  • The most popular sport among the well-off gamblers was hockey and people who bet on hockey and American football more likely to hold a college degree than the average fan.

The move to legal betting

Interestingly, when the AGA first started working with Nielsen a few years ago (when sports betting was largely illegal throughout the US), 38% of those polled said they would switch their betting to a “completely legal” channel if such a channel were available. This led Nielsen to conclude that there would be a 60% jump in the number of sports bettors if betting were legalized across the US. With technology, especially on mobiles, having advanced significantly over the past few years, you have to think that the expected 60% increase is now an underestimate.

What does this mean for sports betting companies?

It can only mean good news because the clear conclusion to be drawn from the survey is that there is a significant potential market waiting for legal sports betting to roll out across the US. What’s more, the market appears to have plenty of money to bet with, adding weight to the view that early estimates of the size of the US sports betting market may well prove to be wide of the mark.

But – and this may be a big but for many people – the survey also means that we are likely to see a rapid increase in the number of sports betting ads and a continuation of them in the UK. What’s more, they are going to continue to focus on the younger, more affluent demographic. On both sides of the Atlantic, having a bet down is going to be presented as an integral part of going to the game or watching it on TV.

Sadly, it also means that my search to find a customer over 30 in a sports betting ad will continue. Meanwhile, gray-haired and unwanted by the bookmakers, I will close my accounts and look for a more exciting pastime. I hear stamp collecting sets the pulse racing.