A new study from financial research firm TransUnion revealed that more than half of mobile sports bettors earn high incomes.
The study defines high earners as those with incomes over $100,000 per year. TransUnion’s online survey polled 2,739 adults across the country, of which 54% fall into that bracket. Previous research from the National Council on Problem Gambling and YouGov has likewise shown that both high and low earners gamble with greater frequency than those close to the median.
While it revealed that a majority of bettors are in good financial standing, TransUnion’s study also showed that consumers hold significant concerns about inflation.
Those fears are leading bettors – including those top earners – to save more money in emergency funds than the overall population.
Is a Sports Betting Slowdown Coming?
Based on consumer habits observed in recent years, that decrease in liquidity could lead to the sports betting industry experiencing a slowdown. So says TransUnion’s Senior Manager of U.S. Gaming, Declan Raines.
In an interview, Raines told Bonus:
We’ve seen how strong that relationship is, especially over the last few years in the COVID environment. Seeing when inflation really starts to hit consumer budgets and consumer liquidity, and you see that downward tick in performance as well.
Consumers are altering their spending behavior amid inflation concerns. Raines sees this as “likely to impact the industry” – especially given its massive growth in recent years.
Still, the study highlighted a number of indicators that sports bettors are generally well-funded and optimistic. In addition to its findings about income demographics, TransUnion revealed that:
- 67% of mobile sports bettors’ income increased in the last three months (compared to 32% of the total population)
- 71% of mobile sports bettors expect their income to increase in the next three months (compared to 45% of the total population)
- 83% of mobile sports bettors are optimistic about their household finances over the next year (compared to 58% of the total population)
Decreasing Consumer Liquidity
However, despite their high incomes and optimism about the future, many bettors face challenges in the present.
TransUnion’s study found signs of decreasing consumer liquidity among bettors. It revealed that 79% of mobile sports bettors were concerned about whether they can pay their current bills and loans in full. Of the total survey group, just 52% had that concern.
Such figures are part of why operators attempt to differentiate resilient consumers from distressed ones. It’s a struggle, however, as their dependence on first-party data limits what they know about a player.
In the UK, the concept of affordability checks has been floated repeatedly. It’s an unpopular suggestion with many, however, particularly privacy and civil liberty advocates. It would likely be an even tougher sell in the US.
Poll Includes Residents of All 50 States
The survey notably included participants from all 50 states. That, of course, includes many where mobile betting – or betting in general – is not yet legal. TransUnion didn’t ask respondents whether they were betting using regulated apps or black market offshore operators.
Bonus asked Rainey about this decision, and whether targeting the survey specifically at users of regulated betting apps would have changed its results. He said:
The reason that we ask consumers in simple terms whether they engage in online sports betting, and then how much they are, it is to make the results as clean as possible.
Do you engage in unregulated or regulated is a difficult question because most people don’t know they’re engaging in unregulated activities; the unregulated and offshore sites do a very good job of making it seem like you’re engaging in licensed, regulated activities when you’re not.
Raines admitted, however, that where people are placing their bets is “absolutely insight that I would like us to know, but it’s just, from a survey perspective, it’s really challenging to try and get that level of detail in a survey like this.”
Establishing a Benchmark
Comparing this week’s findings about inflation to earlier data is challenging. In contrast to the company’s previous research, this was the first study to ask consumers about their mobile sports betting activity. However, Raines is confident that future iterations will offer valuable data about how the trends identified in this study shift over time.
This online survey of 2,739 adults was conducted May 12–19, 2022 by TransUnion in partnership with third-party research provider Dynata. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the United States participated using an online research panel method across a combination of desktop, mobile and tablet devices. To ensure general population sample representativeness, the survey included quotas to balance responses to the census statistics on the dimensions of age, gender, household income, race and region.