A Nielsen Sports study commissioned by the American Gaming Association was released on Tuesday, and the demographics on sports bettors defy age-old stereotypes — most notably the “old age” one.
While 31 percent of the general population is under 35 years old, 44 percent of sports bettors are.
And how’s this for an advertiser’s dream demographic: They’re not just young; they’re affluent. Twenty-nine percent of sports bettors have household incomes of more than $100,000, which is nearly double the percentage of the overall population that brings in six figures annually.
“The Nielsen Sports data supports what we’ve long expected: access to legal sports wagering will increase fan engagement in major sport contests and enable a significant revenue generation opportunity for major sports leagues and teams,” Sara Slane, senior vice president of public affairs for the American Gaming Association, said in a statement.
Are bookies on the ropes?
There has been much discussion of whether most experienced U.S. gamblers who have wagered with illegal bookmakers for years will abandon those “partners” once their states add legal sports betting.
The results were split:
- 38 percent said they would “shift to legal method completely”
- 33 percent said they would use bookies less often in favor of legal versions
- 29 percent said they’ll stick with their bookie
That latter number figures to be higher if the newly legal sportsbooks offer significantly inferior odds — as has happened in spurts in New Jersey so far.
The rooting/betting overlap
The sports fans in the survey were asked if they gamble. While “gambling” was not explicitly defined, one assumes that it refers specifically to betting on games and futures and not playing fantasy sports for money or entering March Madness pools.
Across all sports, the great majority of fans responded that they do not currently bet on sports. The “yes” answers broke down as 19 percent for NFL, 14 percent for NBA, 10 percent for MLB, and 7 percent for NHL. The NFL was the only sport of the four that boasted more “casual bettor” than “avid bettors.”
Nielsen’s findings project that the amount of “casual” and “avid” bettors will increase in this fashion as we continue forward post-PASPA:
|Current Avid Bettors
|Current Casual Bettors
|Projected Avid Bettors
|Projected Casual Bettors
Which sport’s bettors are richest?
While there aren’t many NHL gamblers, fully half of those who say they are avid NHL bettors report household incomes of $100,000 or more — the highest of the four fan groups in the study. More than 4 in 10 NHL fans who are casual bettors also have six-figure households — almost twice as many as the casual bettors in the other sports.
About half of avid bettors in all four sports are under age 35, while more than half of casual NBA and NHL bettors are that young. But only 30 percent of the NFL’s casual bettors are under 35, suggesting that many older fans who use a bookie (or often visit Las Vegas) stick with football.
Fans who are of Hispanic or Latino heritage are more likely to bet on sports than fans of other ethnic backgrounds, the study finds.
While 16% of NBA fans identify as Hispanic or Latino, a remarkable 32% of NBA bettors identify as such. It’s an even bigger disparity in MLB: 14 percent of fans claim Hispanic heritage, 31 percent of bettors do.
Across all sports, fans who bet are 17-30 percent more likely to be male than fans who don’t bet.
Education, however, differed little among the groups. NFL and NHL bettors are a handful of percentage points more likely to be college graduates, while NBA and MLB gamblers are actually slightly less likely than those sports’ non-gambling fans to have degrees.
With this round of research complete, the AGA release notes, “additional research is underway to quantify how much each league can realize from widely-available, legal, regulated sports betting.”