The wait is over for many fans in the U.S. who have longed to bet on games and tournaments. Seven states now authorize sports betting, and a host of others have geared up to open betting markets.
Sports betting is also shaping the fan experience in exciting, interactive ways, especially in the online and mobile worlds.
The March Madness Example
The annual NCAA March Madness for the men’s basketball Division I tournament, one of the nation’s longstanding premier sports events, presents a scenario where sports betting can be a fan experience game changer.
Each spring, an estimated 70 million Americans file their tournament predictions, submitting brackets in office pools, among friends and in online challenges like those offered by ESPN and Yahoo! Sports.
While many March Madness pools involve modest entry fees and payouts, institutional betting around the NCAA’s marquee event has long remained the domain of Las Vegas sportsbooks.
But the Vegas stranglehold on March Madness has come to an end. As more states adopt measures permitting wagers on games, residents are likely to place bets with sportsbooks operating in-state. It’s also conceivable that the culture of traditional office pools will shift as more people take their bracket business to established sports betting outlets.
Online, March Madness prognosticators already enter brackets in virtual pools, a practice dating back to the first dot-com era of the late 1990s.
Placing bets online is similarly fast and convenient. And fans stand to win even more than they would in the standard bracket format. Online bets payout after every tournament game while pools award prizes based on bracket correctness over the entire March Madness run.
Will sports betting fuel new fan engagement?
New fan attraction is an overlooked benefit that comes with the increased availability of sports betting in the U.S. With more entertainment options than ever, teams and leagues wage a fierce battle for fan attention.
The days when North America’s four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA and NHL) dominate the airtime is over, especially since global sports like Premier League soccer, cricket and rugby have made inroads with U.S. audiences. Even video game esports tournaments have found a televised home on ESPN, ABC and other Disney-affiliated networks.
Broader sports betting establishes a platform for fan discovery leveraged by both traditionally popular and emerging sports in the U.S. Plus, wagering’s interactive nature provides fans with a way to develop deep personal interests in the outcome of games beyond those played by their favorite teams.
Sports Betting Creates Media Partnerships
Both sports broadcasters and betting providers are on a mission to foster fan engagement. The shared goal is to create an interesting synergy between media brands across the online, mobile and television spaces.
One example is the recently announced partnership with Fox Sports, which will introduce FOX Bet, a new sports content and wagering platform. Launching this fall, FOX Bet also includes a mobile app for easy access.
Mobile Delivers Convenient Betting
Building a successful online engagement presence in 2019 means bringing the experience to mobile. Since 2017, mobile devices have accounted for about half of all worldwide internet activity, according to Statista.com. This number will reportedly trend even higher in the coming years.
Unsurprisingly, online betting providers have leveraged the mobile revolution. Apps for iOS and Android make it easy for fans to place bets when located in geographic areas where sports wagering is permissible.
Therefore, the convenience offered by mobile is a win-win for both fans and betting providers. Fans don’t have to trek to a brick-and-mortar sportsbook facility to place a bet; providers enjoy one more means of attracting business.
The message is clear: Sports betting has changed the way fans engage with and consume sports content. And the movement is only going to grow as more states give fans the overdue right to wager on games. To date, the list of states permitting sports betting includes Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia and Rhode Island.