The Growth of Online Sports Betting
Using social media intelligence to track the growth of Fanduel and Draftkings
Henry Chapman, Research and Insights Analyst
Using consumer intelligence to monitor sports betting activity
People have been betting on athletic outcomes for as long as people have been playing sports.
Except for a few localized exceptions, sports betting has traditionally been heavily regulated or illegal in the United States. This changed in the last decade when the US Supreme Court opened the door to legalizing online sports betting across the country.
In this brief, we will examine how we used Infegy Atlas to understand how sports betting has rapidly expanded. We’ll then analyze for the target market and key players in the sports-betting arena.
We will conclude this brief with a short discussion on how social listening can highlight the harms of sports betting, specifically the dangers associated with gambling addiction and financial losses.
US Supreme Court legalizes online sports betting
The US Federal Government criminalized sports betting with it’s 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. The US Supreme Court overturned that law in May 2018, declaring it unconstitutional. Consumer intelligence data from Infegy Atlas noted a major surge in post volume around that announcement (depicted below), and a 282% increase in post volume since that announcement. What we can infer from this social listening data is that once online betting was legalized, consumers, and the betting industry in general, surged in to participate in the newly available opportunity.
Using social listening to see the target market
Sports betting has now been legal for over the last five years. We used Infegy Atlas to look at demographics on its target consumer. We found that male voices on social media discussing sports betting outnumbered female voices by almost three to one. In terms of age, 25- to 34-year-olds were most likely to be positive about sports betting. Gen Z social media users were less likely to post about sports betting than 25- to 54-year-olds. We found that people posting about sports betting were likely to have slightly above-average incomes, suggesting that people willing to gamble had some degree of disposable income.
Detecting an overlap with crypto-investing communities
We used topic word clouds to highlight topical hashtags that appeared in sports betting-related posts over the last few years. We found an association between users who discuss betting and those who discuss cryptocurrencies.
The connection between these hashtag-clustered conversations suggests that individuals who are willing or able to participate in the risks of sports-betting, are the same ones who make investments in cryptocurrencies, which is also a risky venture.
Using Infegy Atlas to show which teams trending positively in betting communities
Using Infegy Atlas’ Entity detection, we can determine which teams are being talked about the most in the context of sports betting.
In the table, you can see that betters were most positive about Manchester United, but were considerably less positive around the Seattle Seahawks.
Potential dangers: mental health and gambling addiction
While sentiment around sports betting was positive overall, social listening data keyed us into possible hidden risks. When looking at negative topics, many social media users used terms like “money,” “gone,” “nothing,” and “quit.” A Pew Research article from July 2022 notes that sports-betting addiction is the fastest growing addiction in the United States. For those monitoring community health and addiction, this could be particularly concerning, especially because of how available online sports betting is: gamblers can wager thousands of dollars with just a few taps on their phone.
In this brief, we looked at how social listening and consumer intelligence data can deliver insights into the opportunities and risks of emergent sports betting industry.
We looked at how post volume has surged since the US Supreme Court legalized it in the United States. Next, we looked the current target audience of sports-betting (25- to 55-year-old males). Further demographic analysis with Infegy Atlas revealed an audience segment of primarily middle-aged men who are also interested in crypto investing.
Subsequently, we looked at how Infegy Atlas can identify teams that are being mentioned most frequently within betting related posts. Finally, we discussed how social media users are posting about their gambling losses online.