Connecting with Canadian sports bettors is how to win in the new world

A new gaming industry report from Deloitte Canada based on a survey of Canadians assesses the size of the opportunity presented to the nation’s gaming sector by the legalization, regulation, and expansion of single-event sports betting.

Deloitte Canada estimates the changes to the market could catalyze $28 billion in legal market wagering over the next five years. The report found that around four in 10 (38 per cent) of respondents had either placed sports bets over the preceding 12 months or expressed interest in doing so in the future.

The market will not be homogenous and a one-size-fits-all approach to promoting single-event betting is unlikely to be successful. But regulated sports betting, particularly in Ontario, undoubtedly promises to offer bettors a slate of safe and legal options, and there is huge revenue potential for operators and provinces alike in monitoring and taxing sports betting.

Awareness is still lacking

To maximize that potential, though, several steps are needed. It all starts with the awareness battle.

Possibly the findings’ most eye-catching statistic is that most Canadians don’t even know yet that single-event betting is available to them. In fact, fewer than one in five (19.2 per cent) of Canadian adults are aware that singles betting is now legal.

It’s not surprising that sports betting providers are ramping up their advertising campaigns in recent weeks, and the report concluded that communication and transparency will be key to capturing the potential consumer.

There is certainly interest. 37.1 per cent of respondents expressed eagerness to place legal sports bets, and the main barriers to a lack of interest currently seem to be a lack of information or certainty about the mechanism of doing so. The report concludes that “broadly, there is a need for an education and awareness campaign now that legislation has passed.”

Differing demographics

The crux of the report is that understanding bettors’ perspectives and behaviours will be critical to taking advantage, as will acknowledging that there are three distinct types of Canadian sports bettor: ardent, casual, and potential bettors.

Ardent bettors are a relatively small group, accounting for approximately 8.5 per cent of sports bettors, and bet often and sometimes for higher stakes. The majority are male, more than two-thirds of them are under the age of 45, and over half said they are likely to place single-event bets now that the relevant legislation has been passed.

Meanwhile, casual bettors make up one-third of sports bettors and skew slightly older than ardent bettors, while potential bettors didn’t place any bets on sporting events in the last 12 months but are open to doing so as Canada’s market opens up. This last category makes up the majority (58.5 per cent) of the sports betting community, illustrating the large untapped potential that currently exists in Canada.

With ardent bettors looking for a variety of options and rewards programs, casual bettors tending to hunt for the best odds, and potential bettors attracted to welcome bonuses and odds, tailoring offerings and experiences to each of these groups will be essential for operators and organizations to maximize this potential.

An omnichannel approach

Some of the report’s other conclusions include:

  • Single-event bets appeal most to the casual bettor group, but the likes of micro bets, live props bets, and parlay bets are also sought after by many bettors, particularly ardent bettors.
  • The legalization of single-event betting seems to be driving a spiking increase in online betting, with all three bettor groups wanting to have the option.
  • 50 per cent of respondents said they look for a trusted brand to bet with, ahead of rapid-win payouts (41.7 per cent) and the best odds (34.8 per cent).
  • However, relying on repeat custom may be risky, as only one-eighth (12.9 per cent) said that prior use of a specific brand might affect where they place a future bet.
  • Meanwhile, while celebrity endorsements appeal to brands, only 9.4 per cent of respondents would choose a platform based on them.
  • 32 per cent of respondents said their interest in following or watching sports would increase as a result of the expansion of sports betting.
  • Casual and potential bettors follow their target sports on TV (81 per cent and 85 per cent, respectively), but ardent bettors track a variety of sports, bet more often and at higher amounts, and are much more likely to use digital channels.
  • About 84 per cent of ardent bettors and 75 per cent of casual bettors say they will definitely or probably play other online casino games through sports-betting sites upon legislative changes.

How can operators win in the market?

Deloitte Canada concluded that lotteries and private-sector operators should focus on delivering an omnichannel brand to ardent bettors that offers numerous avenues for betting and engagement, while media organizations should aim to integrate betting into their direct-to-consumer viewing experience without distracting from the games themselves.

Striking a balance may be the key. Providing a personalized approach that reflects how Canadian bettors like to follow and engage with their favourite sports, as well as how they like to wager, can greatly improve operators, advertisers, media organizations, and sports teams and leagues’ odds of winning in this new landscape.

Read the full Deloitte Canada report here.

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