The head of US gaming for financial data company TransUnion believes the US sports betting industry could see whether the old adage of “gambling does better in a recession” is true in the next 24 months.
Declan Raines recently wrapped up a study looking at ties between US online sports betting and the broader economy. A major takeaway? An online sports bettor is in a pretty solid financial position.
The study also found sports bettors appear more worried about being able to pay bills and loans. Current financial hedging by online bettors could indicate a slowdown is near, the report suggests.
“At face value, most of the consumers engaging in mobile sports betting can likely afford to do so,” Raines said. “At the same time, our findings demonstrate how important it is, especially during the time of economic uncertainty, that operators utilize comprehensive data to identify both resilient and distressed customers.”
Major US sports betting customer findings
TransUnion found that 54% of US sports bettors earn more than $100,000. More sports bettors, 89%, are employed than the general public as well, 81%.
Online sports bettors are more likely to have increased their income and more optimistic about their own household finances over the next 12 months than the general public. Additionally, they are paying down debt quicker and adding to emergency savings at a greater rate.
At the same time, online bettors are also increasing credit usage and leveraging retirement savings more than the average population.
“Consumer liquidity was a critical component of this research,” Raines said. “Tracking it and its relationship to the industry’s performance can help operators understand how wider economic factors can impact share of wallet, lifetime player value and responsible gaming risk.”
Heading into US economic instability
Despite the strong job market, the inflationary period in the US economy has chipped away at household finances, Raines said. Consumer liquidity dropping off could correlate negatively to the gaming industry’s performance.
During the fall and spring of the past year, legalized US markets reached record heights for sports betting revenue.
“There are high levels of adoption for regulated sports betting,” Raines said. “You’ve seen that increased adoption with people at home with nothing to do and discretionary spending. As we move into a period with economic headwinds, we do see some potential instability for the industry.”
Raines said he hopes the study can help operators better understand customers, beyond the limited first-party data they collect. He said they can use the data to help implement strategies to encourage more sustainable and responsible gambling.
TransUnion US sports betting push
TransUnion, largely recognized for its credit bureau, jumped into the US sports betting industry in spring 2021. The firm has a long history in identity and fraud protection services.
The company also has more than a decade in overseas gambling markets working on identity verification, fraud and responsible gaming. The Wall Street Journal recently dove into the growing financial crimes risks posed by the growing US online gaming market.
Last year, Glen Goldstein, TransUnion’s EVP and president of TransUnion Gaming Services, told LSR the company was looking to capitalize on “hyper-growth for years to come” in the US sports betting market.