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Sports Marketing Ad Spend

Amid global crackdown, US advertisers spend 400% more on sports betting

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By Hannah Bowler, Senior Reporter

June 27, 2023 | 4 min read

The legalization of sports betting in the States has led to an explosion in gambling ad spend since 2018, but public opinion is overwhelmingly negative.

Betting ad spend in the US peaks during the NFL season

Betting ad spend in the US peaks during the NFL season / Pexels

According to research from adtech firm Disqo, US ad spend for sports gambling is projected to reach $2bn in 2023, up 8% year-on-year.

Prior to 2018, Nevada was the only US state that offered legal sports betting, but a major Supreme Court ruling granted individual states the right to decide if it should be legalized. Fast forward five years and betting is now legal in 37 states.

Sports bet makers such BetMGM, DraftKings and FanDuel are testing new ways to win business from existing gamblers as well as attracting first-time betters. It’s expected that 32 million American adults will place a bet online by 2025, which is a hefty 39% increase from 2022.

Disqo, a customer experience (CX) platform, has tapped into its 2 million users to understand online behavior and sentiment around sports betting. To support the study, Disqo also surveyed 24,787 consumers and asked them emotional questions about sports betting, including their opinions on advertising and celebrity partnerships.

US audiences appear to have strong negative sentiments toward gambling advertising, with a three-to-one negative to positive response rate. Digging further, around 40% of those polled think US sports leagues could damage their reputations by partnering with gambling brands, while another 30% believe celebrities and TV networks risk doing the same.

While the US is in the process of relaxing gambling rules, the UK and counties including Australia are in the process of reviewing legislation and implementing stiff restrictions on advertising. Earlier this month a major UK news outlet implemented an all-out ban on gambling advertising, for example.

Patrick Egan, Disqo’s director of research and insights, told The Drum: “While no one really knows how regulatory and competitive pressures will impact the industry in three to five years, it’s clear that sports betting is here to stay and will continue to grow aggressively.”

Betting in the US is closely associated with the NFL, with 80% of gambling brands’ annual TV ad spend allocated to the league. During the 2022 NFL season, betting companies made up 5% of all TV ad impressions in the early weeks of the tournament.

Although sports betting is an overwhelmingly male habit (87%), female gamblers are on the rise and Disqo has observed a shift towards gender-natural advertising in response to a growth in female sports. Millennial and Gen Z men were revealed to be the most open to sports (40%) when compared with Boomer and Gen Z demographics who were more against than for.

Egan added: “Decision-makers considering spend toward sports betting need to understand the evolving segmentation in this space, evaluate what is holding consumers back right now and determine what strategies will make these activities more appealing for under-represented groups.”

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