This month marks the fourth anniversary of the 6-3 Supreme Court decision that struck down a 1992 federal law banning legalized sports betting. The decision allowed each state to decide whether to authorize legal sports betting. Since that time, 30 states, realizing revenue potential, have passed laws legalizing betting. At present, three other states have voted to legalize gambling but are not yet operational and another nine states are actively pursuing legislation.
From a marketing perspective, over the past four years, the product category has become crowded. The American Gaming Association reports there are about 2,800 websites that provide some combination of betting and mobile gaming. As a result, marketing dollars have increased substantially, making legalized wagering one of the fastest growing product categories in advertising. According to ad spending data from Kantar, the four leading sportsbooks; DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars and BetMGM collectively invested $662 million in ad dollars in 2021. This was an increase of 84% from the previous year and +662% when compared to 2019.
With awareness and availability of legalized wagering growing so is adoption. Morning Consult reports the U.S. sports wagering market reached $52.7 billion in 2021, more than twice the amount from 2020 with nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults wagering on sports at least once a month, led by young adults.
The two most popular sporting events are the NCAA Basketball Tournament (“Merch Madness”) and the Super Bowl. In 2022, a survey from the American Gaming Association found 17% of U.S. adults (45 million people) were expected to wager $3.1 billion on “March Madness”. The survey also found three-quarters of the wagers will come from sportsbook or mobile gambling, with most bets taking place outside the brackets.
To no surprise the biggest day of sports wagering is “Super Bowl Sunday”. For Super Bowl LVI, the AGA expected 31.4 million U.S. adults would place a bet on the “Big Game”, a year-over-year increase of 35%. In addition, a record high $7.61 billion (+78%) was expected to be wagered. GeoComply, which tracks sports wagering on mobile devices, said there were over 80 million transactions taking place over Super Bowl weekend, more than twice the amount from the previous year. Furthermore, there were 5.6 million legal online sportsbooks accessed during the weekend, a year-over-year increase of 95%. Fueling this year-over-year growth was an additional 45 million people in their home states who had access to sportsbooks, as ten more states voted to legalize sports wagering.
Also helping to spur the growth in sportsbook usage has been females. A survey from Global Wireless Solutions found over 4.6 million U.S. women joined sportsbook betting apps last year, an increase of 115% from 2020. By comparison, the number of males using a sports betting app grew by only 63% in 2021. Nonetheless, the number of males accessing a sportsbook app far exceeds the number of females by 250%.
This growth in legalized betting has also led to a new sports programming genre that provides bettors with data and insights on upcoming games. In March 2019 ESPN2 debuted The Dai DAI +0.1%ly Wager, a show featuring information and analysis for gamblers (and non-gamblers), the show is also available online and on audio platforms. In just a few years, hundreds of programs on sports wagering have been launched across national and regional sports networks, streaming video and apps to podcasts and sports talk radio stations.
As sports wagering grows, Connected Travel, Radioline and Simplebet collaborated to launch SmartRadio, a technology which allows sports fans to safely place bets by voice activation when driving. For example, drivers and passengers can bet during a live baseball game on every at bat and pitch. In addition, the interactivity allows for users to engage with other fans, earn points and win prizes from game sponsors.
SmartRadio uses Google’s GOOG +1.9% Android Automotive System, the app is available in over 100 million vehicles including; General Motors GM +1.3%, Ford, Stellantis Honda, Nissan and Volvo. A recent study from Edison Research found there are 282 million licensed drivers in the country spending an average of 55 minutes each day driving. Drive time accounts for more than 70% of the total broadcast radio listening time. Buzz Knight, Founder Buzz Knight Media notes, “As drivetime continues to be a crucial beach- head for the radio industry, SmartRadio is an important innovation to maximize audience engagement and create new revenue opportunities.”
The potential of in-vehicle voice interactivity also allows for greater socialization via gamifying and shopping for advertised products. In a statement, Bryan Biniak, CEO of Connected Travel said, “The integration of emerging technologies like voice, payments and ecommerce in vehicles, unlocks drive time empowering drivers to instantly and safely interact with audio programming. Drivers can play with and buy what they hear and engage at the moments they are most inspired. Making radio transactable will inspire a new generation of innovative in-vehicle infotainment and measurably opens the $40 billion global broadcast radio marketplace for growth.”
At present, SmartRadio and in-vehicle sports wagering is in consumer testing and expected to become more widespread this fall.
The introduction of SmartRadio comes as legalized sports wagering shows no signs of slowing down. Last week the NCAA announced that college conferences and individual schools will be allowed to provide statistics and other data points to sports wagering companies, provided it is also available to the general public.