Betting and sports have had a long, often uneasy, relationship. With sports betting, until recently, mostly confined to offshore websites, local unregulated “bookies,” and a limited number of legal casinos, sports leagues and their media partners have historically eschewed connections to (or even discussions of) sports betting. But due to widespread legalization – and a loosening of some betting restrictions due to COVID-19 – sports and betting seem to be at the beginning of a much closer relationship, one that will have a dramatic impact on how fans consume sports.
New data from Altman Solon’s 2020 Global Sports & News Survey, which explores sports viewing and engagement for 40+ sports leagues and tournaments across 10 countries in Europe and the Americas, reveals the strong connection between sports betting and media consumption. At a time when spectators are limited in many stadiums and TV ratings are down in some markets, online sports betting is driving more fans to watch games – and those fans are watching longer and are more willing to pay for sports content subscriptions.
Around the globe, online betting markets are growing rapidly
In the U.S., 26 states have legalized some form of sports betting, with more states in the process of introducing and passing corresponding bills. Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) has also provided a foothold for gaming companies like FanDuel and DraftKings – both of which have recently launched sportsbooks – to make early connections with customers as legalization proliferates. DFS has also created new deep-pocketed sponsors and advertisers for teams, leagues, and media partners.
Authorities in Europe have been adjusting betting regulation over the past decade, aiming to better track trends, enhance transparency, and extract tax revenues from wagers once hidden in the unregulated markets. Some betting websites are accessible even though local governments have not completed the legalization process. For example, Tipico, through its headquarters and betting license in Malta, can legally offer bets online throughout the European Union. In Germany, which legalized betting last fall, 16 out of 18 Bundesliga clubs have a sponsorship agreement with a sports betting partner. Elsewhere in Europe, Italy recently terminated its ban on betting advertising.
In Altman Solon’s 2020 Global Sports & News Survey, betting is most popular among respondents in Brazil, where 31% of sports fans regularly bet on sports. Other countries like Mexico, France, and the U.S. range from 10-14%. Germany has the lowest participation rate, with 5% of sports fans regularly betting on sports. In terms of betting expenses, 33% of U.S. respondents wager $20-49 on a single event, while the majority of Europeans bet less than €12 on a single event.
Respondents’ favorite sports to wager on correspond largely with their sports interests and viewing habits in the respective countries. There is a strong preference for football and basketball in the U.S., while national soccer leagues attract the lion’s share of bettor interest in the U.K., Germany, Italy, France, and Poland.
According to the survey’s 14,000 respondents, betting significantly reinforces sports viewing time, fandom, and sports-related media consumption – regardless of the bettors’ team or player preferences. Thus, avid bettors are far more likely than non-bettors to watch sports regularly. This higher interest in watching sports by bettors is most pronounced in the U.K., France, and the U.S.
The complete findings on sports betting, which include more country-specific details on betting expenses, favorite sports for betting, the relationship between betting and sports viewership, and the state of fantasy sports, are available by request. Please complete the form below.
Altman Solon conducted the 2020 Global Sports & News Survey in August-September with more than 14,000 respondents across 10 countries. It focuses on fandom, TV viewership, and investor trends, and identifies which players, teams, and leagues fans most want to watch. To see more insights from the survey, please click here.
Published April 6, 2021
Leadership and Oversight