Opinion: The Impact of Social Media on the Growth of Sports Betting in America

  • Over 300 million Americans are on social media regularly
  • Sports betting content is taking off across all social media platforms
  • Accounts promote longshot wagers with huge payouts
  • States have changed how sportsbooks can promote themselves
Social media app icons on a phone
Social media has directly helped grow sports betting because of its promotion of challenges and winning tickets with huge payouts. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Social media helps grow sports betting

The unprecedented rise of sports betting in America has been fueled by the stranglehold social media has over the country’s 336 million citizens.

nearly 90% of the population loading up social media platforms regularly

According to automated reporting platform Demand Sage, 302.4 million Americans actively use social media. That’s nearly 90% of the population loading up social media platforms regularly. 

While social media has many uses, it can also plant ideas and attitudes into the minds of those who are online, and when it comes to sports betting, it has introduced and normalized gambling to a wide audience. 

An online world

The grip that social media has on Americans is jaw-dropping. Demand Sage says that 74.2% of adults use Facebook, 60.7% frequent Instagram, and 42.4% are on TikTok. That’s despite natural confounding variables such as job schedules, parental duties, and general responsibilities.

The gravity of social media has caused many individuals to do anything they can to go viral, whether that be performing extreme tasks, creating hilarious content, or doing outlandish stunts. A few memorable viral trends are the crate challenge, where participants attempted to walk up and down a pyramid of milk crates, the cinnamon challenge, during which people attempted to swallow a spoon of cinnamon, and the banana Sprite challenge designed to induce vomiting.

Now, one of the most popular sports betting challenges is the $10 to $10k challenge. The only rules are that a bettor starts with $10 and doubles their wager every day for 10 straight days, placing every bet at +100 odds until they win $10,000. Only one out of every 1,024 participants should complete this challenge, mathematically speaking. 

While online trends come and go, sports betting as a whole has been on a steady upward climb. Each social media platform has its own role in growing its prevalence, and an end seems close to impossible.

Twitter and Instagram

Both Twitter and Instagram have been huge catalysts for the growth of sports betting thanks to the promotion of winning tickets that make life-changing sums look achievable for anyone with a couple of dollars in their bank account. 

winning tickets that often show very low sums of money being turned into colossal payouts

br_betting, an affiliate of sports news company Bleacher Report, is one of the biggest promoters of sports betting. It mixes general sports news and highlight video clips with screenshots of winning tickets that often show very low sums of money being turned into colossal payouts.

The last ticket that br_ betting posted on its Twitter account (that was not in response to the question “What is the STUPIDEST wager you’ve ever placed?”) had odds of +182300. The person who placed that bet won $1,824 from a $1 stake.

Although the account is not directly telling its followers to go place bets with similarly absurd odds, it is showing that they are possible to win. That, in turn, often convinces bettors that they can be the next to go viral with a crazy win.


Discord is a popular voice, video, and text chatting app that sports bettors have started to flock to. One of the most popular channels, called “Sports Capitalists,” has nearly 25,000 members and says in the channel description that it can “Make Enjoying Sports a Side Hustle.”

another cost for bettors

Many of these Discord channels cost entry fees or contain VIP rooms that are only accessible with a subscription. That’s another cost for bettors that choose to join such communities.

It also costs nothing to create a Discord channel. There are no job-based qualifications or any other requirements, meaning that any sports fan can start charging for betting picks just because they want to, 


TikTok is a growing hub for sports betting content. The hashtags #sportsbettingtiktok and #sportsbetting have 4.1 billion combined views, and that number is rising quickly.

children are being bombarded by gambling content

One of the biggest concerns with TikTok is that it is extremely popular among youths, a majority of which do not have the content filter toggled on. That means that children are being bombarded by gambling content at the will of the platform’s algorithms.

TikTok is heavily against traditional gambling and does not allow live streaming or personal bookmaking, but sports betting videos, whether they be reactions to winning tickets, picks for the day’s games, or analyses of trends, are quite prevalent.

The future of sports betting on social media

Sports betting’s social media takeoff greatly benefits operators since they have to put very little money into increasing their visibility. This allows them to wield their influence in political debates, as seen in California last year when major sportsbooks pooled together nearly half a billion dollars to push Propositions 26 and 27, albeit to no avail.

State regulators have been taking action to reduce the power of sportsbooks in various areas. The wording of promotional offerings has been restricted to reduce confusion, many states don’t allow betting on in-state college sports teams, and others still don’t have a sports betting market at all.

Short of a ban on sports betting content, however, it seems impossible to kill its online momentum. And that is an increasingly scary sight.

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