YouGov Survey Shows Americans Concerned About Sports Betting Ads

A recent report by YouGov should serve as a wake-up call for US sports betting operators.

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A dramatization of a man reacting to losing a basketball bet he placed online. A recent YouGov report found that 45% of Americans surveyed believe sports betting operators advertise too much. (Image: Elnur/Adobe Stock Images)

The international research and analytics firm released a report last month showing 45% of US survey respondents agree at least somewhat (23% strongly agree; 22% tend to agree) that there is too much promotion for sportsbooks. That’s lower than most other countries YouGov polled, but more than a third of Americans (35%) said they weren’t sure. That was the highest share of undecideds in any of the 15 countries in the report.

Oliver Rowe, the global sector head for YouGov’s Leisure & Entertainment sector, told that attitudes in the US are more permissive toward gambling. However, he added that the high negative numbers regarding advertising and sponsorships.

“That to me is the concern because that’s when legislation steps in,” Rowe said. “That’s when we start to see pushback and people starting to get concerned.”

At the same time, very few of those polled believe operators look out for players’ wellbeing. Among US bettors, just 3% said they strongly agreed that online gaming companies cared for their customers, and only 8% somewhat agreed. That’s compared to 47% who strongly felt those companies did not have the best interests of players.

Sportsbooks Taking Proactive Approach

Rowe also said gaming companies need to address the issue that some players believe gambling can be “a side hustle” for them, especially at a time when there’s economic uncertainty – like now.

If people start to lose and start to chase their losses, that’s where the problems come,” he said. “And I think, to me, the industry has got to get ahead of this. I don’t just mean that specifically. I mean… concerns that the public have about safety.”

Some US operators in regulated markets are already working on bolstering their responsible gambling messaging. Last month, DraftKings announced a campaign featuring skateboarding icon Tony Hawk and pro wrestler The Miz. FanDuel announced that boxing champ Amanda Serrano would serve alongside WFAN host Craig Carton as a responsible gaming ambassador.

In addition, some operators have announced they will be cutting back on their advertising spending moving forward.

Rowe said those are steps operators are likely taking in hopes of fending off more stringent government oversight.

“You can see in every other market,” he said. “The Responsible Gambling messages have been so important to try and fend off greater legislative restrictions. It’s probably only a matter of time before there’s a reaction in the States. You’ve only got to look at European markets to see it.

“People are already worried… They’re worried about gambling harm. They don’t think operators act fairly and behave responsibly. They say they’re concerned about too much sponsorship and advertising. You put all that stuff together, they think the industry lacks trust. That’s where you then start to see the danger of a swing towards people being concerned that gambling or online gambling or sports or whatever specific areas might not be such a great idea after all, despite the tax taking and everything else that could be good.”

Better News for US Sportsbooks in Second Report

YouGov also released a report last week looking at US gaming in the second quarter of the year that has better news for operators.

Among its findings, the study found that four of the top five sports for US bettors saw year-to-year increases. For example, 25% of those surveyed said they make regular bets on NFL games, compared to 20% in the second quarter of 2021. The survey also found that 22% bet on the NBA, up 3 percent. Soccer rose to 16% from 14%, while horse racing inched up to 13% from 12%.

Baseball stayed the same at 15% for both quarters.

The survey also included a profile of NFL bettors. According to YouGov, the average pro football gambler is middle-aged (age 45-65), a college graduate, and more likely to live in the Midwest. They’re also more likely to watch sports on television – 72%, compared to 40% of other sports bettors. In addition, 77% say placing a bet on a game makes it more interesting to watch, compared to 55% of other bettors.

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