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More Bets? More Fans

In light of a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, states are now free to decide whether or not they want to allow sports betting, and so the monopoly that Nevada has enjoyed for many decades is now over. Obviously this is good news for state governments, as they will be able to tax profits, but what does this mean for the leagues themselves?

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Rather than continue to fight the idea of everyone being able to bet on games, league and team decision-makers are realizing that sports betting will create marketing opportunities to grow revenues almost immediately. Now that conditions with regard to the legal and regulatory environment have changed, it doesn't much matter what these decision-makers think. The proverbial genie is now out of the bottle.

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Indeed, gamblers don't tend to be "avid" fans of any team, but rather they tend to be "casual" fans of the sport itself. If someone places a bet on the game, then they are more likely to watch that game, but many of these viewers probably wouldn't tune in otherwise.  The casual fan base across all spectator sports is sure to grow. The NFL, for its part, sees legalized sports betting as a way to court fans around the world. Gambling is already very popular in Europe, and the league played five regular season games in England last season alone. Football generated almost $2 billion in revenue just in the state of Nevada, and so it's easy to see what this number might become as legal sports gambling increases in scale and scope.

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Another benefit to leagues involves data. Information that flows from the casinos back to the leagues about bets, including the audience itself and how people are consuming the sport, will surely provide very valuable insight for marketers going forward. And the data will become more complex as time goes on and will affect strategic marketing thinking at all levels. For a league that has lost about 20% of its viewers over the past few years, it appears that this change in the law has come just in time for the NFL. For other leagues, there will surely be more fans, more revenue, and more profits at least in the near future.


Discussion:  Would betting on a game make you more likely to watch that game? How do you think that this development in the legal and regulatory environment will affect spectator sports?

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