With the repeal of PASPA almost a year old, legalized sports betting slowly continues to pop up in states across the country. Each state regulates what, where and how sports bets can be placed, offering a new entertainment option that is available for states such as Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Rhode Island and West Virginia (with more jurisdictions on the way). 

However, the challenge for operators in the aforementioned states is how to grow a new business that most people have historically identified as taboo. Existing players who have previously placed bets with bookies and illegal offshore web sites are an obvious initial target; though the conversion rate of these players is not as high as one might think or as some had anticipated.

The question is now becoming, how do casino operators identify the market for new sports bettors?  What is the demographic and how can they reach them?  Those questions can be answered with raw data on a state-by-state basis, but we can also apply some logic to figure out who might be interested in placing a wager or two and how to engage that audience.

TEACHING MOMENT

Access to making a sports bet—and Europeans may agree at this point in the game that this is far more complicated than it should be in places where sports betting is legal—is key to driving demand. Whether it’s through a brick-and-mortar facility, mobile, online or mobile at the property of a retail location (thanks Mississippi for confusing people), new “customers” must understand how they can get in on the action. Additionally, these potential new customers must understand what types of bets can be placed (futures, live betting, spread, money line, parlay, teasers and head-to-head) and how to be fiscally responsible.

Needless to say, it could be a challenge for new operators to reach a non-betting audience and convince them that this form of entertainment, and discretionary income spend, is worth their time given all of the other forms of entertainment options available. The demographic with the biggest potential are sports fans who have not dabbled in sports betting. This group, for the most part, will have at least a high-level understanding of how betting works and are primed to dip their toes in legalized sports betting; especially fanatics of their favorite teams.

However, the questions remain… how to educate new players on the basics of sports betting, get this new audience engaged and how to retain them?  The answers to these questions go many layers deep, but here a simple breakdown of some of the steps new sports betting operators need to consider: 

  • How to educate new players—There is a plethora of resources online, bookstores and app stores that teach the basics of sports gambling. Additionally, once a player gets to a certain comfort level (which should happen fairly quickly), the basic education will be complete. In recent months, a number of startups have built apps and websites focusing on this specific topic and, of course, that longtime standing operators also provide plenty of education on how to bet on their sites.
  • How to engage a new audience—The million-dollar question. As mentioned previously, there is a lot of competition vying for bettors’ attention on a daily basis which makes this a tough nut to crack. Furthermore, there are state-by-state regulations that limit the marketing reach of sports betting operators and supporting platforms. As evidenced by recent numbers in  New Jersey, 80 percent of all bets are taking place on a mobile device. This should give companies clear direction in regard to how to spend their marketing dollars.
  • How to retain players—One of the great things that both FanDuel and DraftKings do with fantasy games is consistently provide players with bonuses and free games to get them interested in participating and engaged. This strategy can, and should be, leveraged with sports betting clients to engage them and have them continue to play with the perception that they are getting something for free. This is especially important for bettors who are experiencing a bad streak and need a little push to get back in the action. Another great thing that both of these companies do to get players’ attention can be found in their e-mail marketing campaigns. They are very diligent in alerting players to new tournaments and whenever a new sports season is about to start. Again, this is something that casino operators are currently doing in other areas of gaming that can be parlayed into the sports betting realm and could reap dividends.