Betting on young U.S. gamblers

The new laws around sports betting in the U.S. has given many companies hope that there will be new revenue streams from gambling. Already, the sportsbooks in New Jersey and Delaware are seeing decent numbers in the early days, and this is promising considering three of the major sports are off for the summer. As football season approaches, many questions are unanswered about sports betting in a regulated environment, but there is one question that has more people curious than any other:

Will young people bet on sports?

The gambling industry has been trying desperately to get young people engaged, but the traditional casino games don’t seem to be the way to bring millennials to the table. Sports betting is something that many young people (specifically males) could find themselves interested in, but there needs to be a certain set of conditions under which we think younger people will be gambling on a regular basis.

The American Gaming Association recently released the results of a survey that told a very nice story – you can see some of the findings here, but the bottom line is that sports betting is, in fact, attracting a younger audience.

The questions is since most of those players are betting with blackmarket sites, is there any reason for them to change their behavior? Here is how we think it can be done.

Focus on phones as much as they do

These days, most people are glued to their mobile devices and with good reason. Today, you can power your entire life via apps and web access on your phone or tablet, and these devices now have just as much computing power as most laptops. For sports betting to be successful in the U.S., the online and mobile component must be front and center. Now, you would think that is an obvious statement to make, but you will be surprised to hear that online betting was not part of the original launches of sports betting in Delaware or New Jersey. It was weeks after launch that online betting was available in the Garden State, and still today only Draft Kings is up and running with a mobile betting platform. If young people have to go to a casino or land-based facility to place bets, there is a much lower chance that they will do so, especially with the option of betting at illegal online sportsbooks staring them in the face.

Capturing the DFS Market

One nice crossover market for the sports betting world is Daily Fantasy Sports. These players tend to be younger across the board, and companies like FanDuel and Draft Kings will have a leg up on the rest of the sportsbook business in the U.S. as they already have millions of American DFS players in their databases. The key to attracting the DFS crowd is to have some sort of daily prop betting action that can easily replicate the results of the effort that goes into picking a DFS team. Companies that figure this out can lure DFS players into proper sports betting.

Fast-twitch betting is the way

Let’s face it -we are more distracted and busier than ever before. We all seem to be running around trying to stay ahead of our days, and this is even more amplified in the younger demographic. Also, sporting events are long. The average major league sport takes well over two hours to complete, and younger people don’t seem to have the appetite to sit through an entire game. This is amplified when we talk about betting. A player who bets on a football game has to wait 3 hours to find out the result of the bet. This is far too long to keep someone interested, so this is where in-play betting becomes a crucial part of the solution.

In-play betting allows players to bet on the outcome of a sing play or a shorter period of time – who will win each quarter of a game, etc. Betting on which team will score next, the jersey number of the player that scores or the result of the next drive are all options that keep players interested for far shorter periods of time, and we think that is the key to having an increased engagement with the games.

So there you have it! If you want to get younger people more into sports betting, at the very least, these pieces all have to be in place:

Online and mobile presence is a must
Bet types that are close to DFS in strategy
More bets that close quickly

If a state allows all of these, and companies are quick to put together betting offers that include these attributes, then not only will there be a compelling argument for a current bettor to stop sending money offshore, but it may very well open up the industry to a whole new set of gamblers. Only time will tell if regulated gambling will attract a younger audience, but there are lots of things the industry can do to not shoot themselves in the foot right out of the gate.


Our in-house expert for all things regulation, Jackson covers all major recent developments across US states relating to gambling laws & legislation.