Mike Koeshartanto

Get to Know Soccer’s Gambling Audience

In May of 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 25-year-old law, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA), that effectively limited legal sports gambling to one state. As a result of the decision, states now have the ability to decide for themselves if they will allow legal sports gambling. As of the time of publishing, 31 states have legal betting, whether in-person, mobile, or both with several other states pending.

Let’s get to know the American betting audience, particularly those interested in soccer, a bit better.

Who is the American soccer betting audience?

Looking at the broader sports betting universe, according to a 2019 Fantasy Sports & Gambling Association (FSGA) report, 16% of sports betters bet on soccer. This percentage falls well behind that of the NFL (63%), MLB (36%), NBA (36%), NCAAF (27%), and NCAAB (26%). It is, however, in the same range as the NHL (17%), UFC (17%), and boxing (16%).

Before we dig a little deeper into soccer gambling specific, let’s start with demographics. A proprietary GESM survey conducted in 2021 indicated that 40% of soccer fans in the U.S. have gambled or bet on a soccer event. Among the 40%, three quarters are male, 57% are between the ages of 23 and 39, and 52% are Hispanic.

What are soccer fans betting on?

Our 2021 survey asked soccer fans who gamble on the sport to identify the leagues on which they place bets. Of the seven leagues included in the question, to no surprise, the Premier League was the most-bet-on league (43%). After the Premier League, the UEFA Champions league was second (40%) and MLS was third (35%). La Liga (28%), Liga MX (28%), Serie A (21%), and the Bundesliga (18%) rounded out the remainder of the order.

Does gambling increase interest?

If people are placing bets on a sport like soccer, are they inherently becoming more interested in the sport or does it just merely serve as potential money making venture? According to a 2020 survey of ours, 83% of fans indicated gambling on soccer games has had a positive impact on their interest in the sport. Of the 83%, nearly half (49%) indicated gambling had a significant impact on their soccer fandom.

What is gambling’s place in soccer?

Gambling, whether legal or illegal, has long been linked to sporting events. In the world of soccer, outside the U.S., betting is synonymous with the sport. Here in the U.S. we’re beginning to see a similar symbiotic relationship and, as a result, an influx of new fans are becoming invested in teams and leagues the world over.

From DraftKings to FanDuel and Caesars to BetMGM, gambling entities abound are linking up with sports leagues as all parties begin their journey into a fast-evolving world of legal betting. In England, where betting companies and their relationship to sport are fully matured, things have become a bit more, well, complicated.

According to a survey conducted in 2020, a third of soccer fans are disinterested in purchasing their team’s jersey if their main sponsor is a betting company. The growing discourse surrounding the inextricable link between gambling and sport comes as the Premier League looks to strike a new frontier in which gambling companies are not linked to its clubs in order to avoid potential government legislation.

We’re a long way from a similar situation stateside given gambling’s newfound legality, but it is something to keep an eye on as the industry matures. For now, the marriage of betting and sport in soccer in particular, is bringing a lot of new fans into the fold and for that reason alone it’s hard to view the relationship as a negative.

Categories: Feature, Featured, Research