Today, I want to focus on some survey results from Nielsen Sports about gambling. From the outset, I must point out that the survey was done at the behest of – and funded by – the American Gaming Association (AGA) which is an organization that represents casino and sports betting interests. I am not accusing Nielsen Sports or the AGA of any shenanigans here, but I always think it is important to know the interests of the people behind the survey and the interpretation of the results of that survey.
Nielsen Sports surveyed more than 1000 adults who self-identified as sports bettors from around the US. While that sample size may seem awfully small at first, it is a statistically significant sample for such polling if the demographics of the people in the sample are properly managed. What the survey sought to do was to project the future size of sports wagering revenues and the future behavior of sports bettors in the US now that it can be available in any State that chooses to authorize sports betting. Obviously, there will be real data to analyze over the next 5-10 years to know with far more certainty the impact of the Supreme Court’s striking down of PASPA last year; this survey might provide casino operators, leagues and broadcasters with a signal as to where all of this is headed.
Here are some of the findings from the survey:
- Among this sample of self-identified sports bettors, 44% are less than 35 years old. In the entire US population, 31% are below the age of 35. This would indicate that the population of sports bettors skews young.
- Among this sample of self-identified sports bettors, 29% report a total household income of $100K or more. In the US population at-large, 16% of households have that level of income. This would indicate that the population of sports bettors skews toward higher income levels.
These data should be very encouraging to the entities that make up the AGA, but they should also be encouraging to TV networks and advertisers. People with “a little something” riding on a game tend to tune in to see how their “little something” is doing; if the networks can convince advertisers that there is a segment of that audience that “skews young and affluent”, that is a good deal for the networks in terms of the fees they might charge for sponsorships. That, in turn, is good for the leagues because that allows them to demand higher TV rights fees…
Obviously, the AGA is more than happy to take those results and to portray them in the most positive way and to use these data to encourage the expansion of sports betting in as many States as possible. Here are how these data are seen through the rose-colored glasses of the AGA:
“Expanding access to legal sports betting will bring millennial audiences back to sports broadcasts and stadiums, which is a huge benefit for sport enterprises across the country. However, this potential will only be realized with proper policy frameworks that empower consumers with competitive odds, access to all bets and the ability to tap into modern platforms including mobile. Without this focus on consumers, the illegal market will continue to thrive.”
My translation for that statement is that the AGA recognizes that casinos face competition from local bookies who may offer credit to bettors which casinos cannot. The AGA advocates for casinos to be allowed to offer a variety of betting formats and offerings to compete with the “underground betting operatives”.
As I said, a lot of the fallout from expanded sports betting in the US will become self-evident in 5-10 years. Nonetheless, this survey has some interesting results.
While I am on that subject, the folks who ponder these big issues of “legalized gambling” and “effects on the soul of America” need to recognize something here:
- Sports gambling is a tax revenue stream because casinos/sportsbooks pay taxes on their profits and on their real estate and there can be mechanisms to collect tax revenue from big winners in the casinos too. Since many States employ sales taxes and hotel stay taxes, those are also tax revenue streams where sports betting contributes.
- Moreover, much of this tax revenue comes from taxpayers on a voluntary basis. It is very difficult for taxpayers to avoid sales taxes or real estate taxes or income taxes; it is very easy to avoid being part of the sports betting tax stream. All participants there are doing so voluntarily. That ought to be a popular concept among legislators…
Switching gears… There was a report yesterday that the NFL may have reached out to Adam Silver to inquire if he might be interested in leaving his job as NBA Commish to become NFL Commish. It is certainly no mystery that Silver enjoys a better reputation in the media and in public than does Goodell, but I would be very careful trying to equate the two jobs. The NBA and the NFL are two very different entities; this would not be like the CEO for Ford Motor Co. moving over to become the CEO for General Motors – – or vice versa.
Finally, since I alluded to Ford Motor Co above, consider this Tweet from Brad Dickson recently:
“Ford is recalling 1.5 million F-150 pick up trucks. Oh, great, now how are Iowa State fans supposed to get to the games?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………