Left and right, casinos and sports betting operators have been pairing off.
It only seemed right that media conglomerates would get in on the action as well. And such marriages are already underway.
Just a few weeks ago, media power Turner Sports announced a partnership with Caesars Entertainment. The agreement allows for Turner to create “gaming-themed content” for its users. The deal also sets aside space at Caesars Palace Las Vegas for a Bleacher Report-branded studio.
Certainly, Turner would not enter into such a partnership without doing some homework. On Thursday, Bleacher Report, a subsidiary of Turner, released its findings from a December 2018 study of 2,000 US adults ages 21 and older.
What the company found was that legal sports betting has become more acceptable since the US Supreme Court repealed PASPA in spring 2018. In fact, the activity has gained steam in popularity, what with highly populated states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania rolling out their respective industries within the past nine months.
These results, the Bleacher Report concluded, “will help guide the content strategy for Bleacher Report moving forward.” And as a result, the study “reinforces Bleacher Report’s position as a leader in sports audience data and authority on sports culture.”
Sports betting more acceptable and popular
Bleacher Report’s first national study on legalized sports betting gauged the betting behaviors and trends of Gen Z and millennial sports fans, the prime audience catered to by the media company.
The December study conducted online via Ipsos surveyed 2,000 American individuals between the ages of 21 and 34. Through the survey, the Bleacher Report discovered participant’s “evolving attitude toward sports betting and how it directly relates to engagement.”
Among the key findings, sports betting has become mainstream. Two in three sports fans find it “socially acceptable” to participate in regulated wagers. Along those lines, according to the study, one in three bettors place live or in-game wagers. They also prefer to engage with friends via social media while doing so. Additionally, individuals within the selected age range are nearly two times more likely now than a year ago to bet than those older than 35.
Perhaps more interestingly, the Bleacher Report found that bettors are five times more likely to interact with the Bleacher Report app than non-bettors. Actually, according to the study, 82 percent of Bleacher Report users are either current bettors or interested in betting.
“We know the millennial and Gen Z sports fan better than anyone else,” Bleacher Report CEO Howard Mittman said in a release. “It’s what drives our content and guides all the decisions that we make. This study is another data pool that will help inform our strategy as we broaden our reach and connection to legal sports betting.”
More fandom, more attention via sports betting
The engagement factor of these results tells quite a story.
As state-sanctioned wagering began, theories abounded about legal sports betting leading to more viewers and fans. Bleacher Report’s study, while a small sampling, follows that logic.
Some 63 percent of respondents indicated they would pay more attention to games if legal sports betting existed in their respective states. Similarly, those who participate in regulated wagering are more likely to live in states with legal sports betting.
The Bleacher Report app includes a betting vertical, which launched in 2018. Its study found that much of the app’s user engagement tied directly to the sports calendar. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of app interaction, 46 percent, occurred an hour before NFL kickoff.
PA sports betting can tap into fandom but needs online wagering
So, what can this study tell us about the future of the wagering industry, particularly as it pertains to PA sports betting?
Currently, six sportsbooks are operational in the Keystone State. Through the first two-and-a-half months, customers have spent nearly $50 million in wagers, leading to a modest $4.8 million in gross revenue.
Pennsylvania is one of the biggest states in America, ranking fifth in population. Certainly, that density provides optimism for the future of the state’s sports betting industry.
In addition, Pennsylvania features some of the most avid fanbases in sports, particularly when it comes to Philadelphia sports.
However, what is missing — and what is key to the industry’s future success — is online sports betting in Pennsylvania. While the Bleacher Report’s study does not explicitly indicate how frequently bettors use mobile sportsbooks, that ease of access certainly exists. Consider, after all, the frequency in which the study’s respondents preferred to engage online.
Fortunately, Pennsylvania expects to launch online sports betting to complement the ever-expanding selection of retail sportsbooks. Unfortunately, however, the online side of sports betting might not launch until July.