Who is the legal U.S. sports bettor? Pickswise's first annual survey of American sports bettors reveals common habits

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Andrew Wilsher

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Managing Editor of Pickswise. Born and raised in jolly old London, England, with an undying love for the NFL, NBA, soccer and horse racing. A big-time sports bettor who loves futures markets and backing underdogs. Long-suffering New York Jets fan.

Not surprisingly, sports bettors in the U.S., predominantly men in their 30s and 40s, love to watch and wager on football, according to a new, comprehensive survey of U.S. sports bettors conducted by Beacon Research for Pickswise. The inaugural Pickswise.com Annual Sports Bettor Survey included 1,500 self-identified U.S. sports bettors of legal betting age residing in states with legal sports betting.

Football (both professional and college) ranked as the most frequent choice for wagering for most bettors (73%) with basketball as a close second (62%), and baseball, boxing, soccer, and horse racing rounding out the second tier. Nearly one-quarter of respondents said they bet daily. Most say their average stake is between $50-$99. The sports bettors also indicate they are avid sports consumers, spending significant time on research and analysis, on pre- and post-game sports news, and watching games themselves.

Bettors’ behaviors

This unique look into the burgeoning U.S. legal sports bettor revealed a number of behaviors reflecting a high level of investment and participation: most wager weekly, have more than one mobile sportsbook account, bet on several different sports, make use of many bet types, and say they are more likely to watch the games they’ve bet on. And, 97% of those surveyed said they are interested in research and analysis before they wager, with 80% trusting content from outlets that are not directly affiliated with a sportsbook.

Compared to the general U.S. adult population, U.S. sports bettors primarily skew male, white, and affluent. And the survey reveals a new population of sports bettors who are younger and more diverse — both by race and by gender. People of color represent one-third of those who began wagering in the past year, compared to just a quarter of longer-term bettors. Similarly, three-in-ten new bettors are female, compared to 23% of longer-term bettors.

“As legal sports betting continues to expand here, a profile is emerging of highly engaged fans with an appetite for information, analysis, and insights to inform their picks,” said Dan Pozner, Spotlight Sports Group’s VP of Content. “Based on the results of this first Pickswise.com survey, three-quarters say they spend at least an hour each week on research before placing bets. We believe that as the legal betting market continues to grow, so too will the market for quality content that helps bettors, especially new ones, navigate their way through it smartly.”

Breaking down sports bettor habits

Among the specific findings, U.S. sports bettors:

  • Wager frequently
  • 70% say they bet at least weekly, and one-quarter bet daily
  • 61% place at least three bets per week, with nearly one-quarter placing five or more
  • 74% have multiple mobile sportsbook accounts; though, just 31% say they shop for the best odds before betting
  • Do their homework
  • 97% are interested in research and analysis
  • Nearly three-quarters spend at least an hour on research each week with 30% spending more than two hours
  • 81% conduct research before betting
  • More than half trust their own research over tips from friends
  • Watch a lot of games
  • 73% say they are more likely to stream or watch a game that they have bet on
  • 50% say they are more likely to watch additional sports news
  • 55% say they are more engaged with fantasy sports
  • Are motivated by the challenge
  • 71% cite “winning money” as a major reason for betting
  • 61% say “for the thrill”
  • 51% cited the “challenge of picking winners”

“Legalized betting is offering fans new opportunities to engage with the sports they enjoy, both before and after kickoff,” said Andrew Schwartz, Director at Beacon Research. “Eight-in-ten spend time researching most of their bets, three-quarters are more likely to watch games they’ve bet on, and half place live bets. As with the fantasy sports boom, we’re seeing the emergence of a more participatory way for fans to consume live sports.”

Respondents said they enjoy most types of bets. Spreads, over-unders, money line, and parlays were all cited by more than 75% of those surveyed. The survey found that most bettors played fantasy sports, too, and, not surprisingly, DraftKings and FanDuel are the dominant betting platforms with 57% of respondents saying they have used DraftKings and 50% saying they have used FanDuel. BetMGM, Bet365, and FoxBet round out the top five most-used sportsbooks. Respondents said trust and ease of use, especially for financial transactions, were their top factors in choosing a sportsbook.

The legal sports betting market in the U.S. has boomed since the Supreme Court decision to repeal its prohibition in May 2018. Per the American Gaming Association, sports betting is now legal in 32 U.S. states. Operators are processing wagers in 22 states, with 10 others set to launch in the next few months and there is legislation pending in several others.

Pickswise is the home of free expert football picks. Our expert football handicappers are on hand season-long to provide you with the best NFL Picks and NFL Predictions along with College Football Picks, including our College Football Best Bets each week.

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