When asked about popular topics in the sports industry, I find myself talking about sports gambling before all other subjects. A multitude of reasons drive my interest – the psychology behind consumers gambling habits, the impact it has as a new sponsorship vertical, and the sheer numbers that are behind the conversation. Nevada sport books had an all-time record handle in the month of May with $317.4 million.
Never mind the moral or ethical principles that the legal system struggled with not so long ago, we are past that now. Sports is a business, and just as many others, the industry looks to give consumers what they want.
It just so happens that what consumers want, is exactly what stakeholders pray for. The ability to work in a new vertical creates more opportunities to drive revenue, capture a new audience (a rabid, and large one at that), and show the innovation and capabilities expected of sports business companies and organizations.
As of late March, less than a dozen teams were known to have sponsorship deals with sports betting operators, and as recent as last week the MLS now allows teams to partner with sports betting companies for assets as high-profile and public-facing as naming rights and jersey patches. Many teams are unable to make the jump into the category due to state law, but as states begin to legalize sports betting expect the number of teams to increase dramatically.
The introduction of gambling deals in sports also benefits brands and teams alike to reach a unique type of spectator. According to a study conducted by Nielsen Sports, “already, at least 20% of the general U.S. 18+ population claims they like to bet on at least one of the major 4 U.S. sports.” The growth potential by working with a once forbidden industry has erupted, and has created an excitement around sport as a whole. Look for brands to tap into activations that target this intriguing mass of people.
No matter the optimism, there are those still opposed with moral issues still holding precedent. Due to this, a nationwide consensus has been difficult to form, but one-by-one states are legalizing this long-standing sin. We currently stand at 14 total states and Washington D.C. that have made sports betting legal in some fashion.
In the past two months, 6 states have legalized a form of sports betting, and 22 others are projected by The Action Network to have a bill passed by 2021. For those that are naysayers, it may be time to jump on the bandwagon that is this cash cow.
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