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Payments’ value in starting the customer experience for UK & European online sportsbooks

Find out how payments are key in converting online sportsbooks’ customers and starting the player experience.

Last April the Premier League announced that from 2026 UK football clubs will no longer be allowed to have front-of-shirt sponsorship deals with sportsbooks. Ahead of this change and with several European countries already restricting other marketing channels, it’s important for operators to re-evaluate their player acquisition strategies, especially payments – arguably the true start of the customer experience.

Brand awareness vs. customer conversion

While the UK is currently tightening sponsorship restrictions, Italy already goes much further. Since early 2019 the country has upheld a blanket ban on all online, TV, radio and print advertising related to gambling.

Although more lenient, Germany’s marketing restrictions remain a hurdle for operators. The gambling regulator prohibits TV ads for sportsbooks during sporting events like Germany’s upcoming Euro 2024 football championship.

And ahead of France hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris, the country’s gambling regulator issued new guidelines on sports-betting sponsorship deals.

What impact do these restrictions have on player acquisition? Sponsorship deals are certainly important for the acquisition funnel’s first phase of raising brand awareness, and any restrictions will make operators reallocate marketing spend to other channels to accomplish this, like online media buys and affiliate marketing.

But sponsorships are less effective for the acquisition funnel’s more crucial phases of brand evaluation and, above all, the decision to become a first-time depositor (FTD). Our 2024 All the ways players pay report reveals that sponsorships were of low importance for players when choosing a sportsbook, with just 6% of both Germany and Italian players prioritizing this.

Ahead of the UK’s front-of-shirt ban, players are only slightly attracted by sponsorships, with only 12% prioritizing this when selecting a book. Sponsorships aren’t impactful in converting French players either, with just 11% choosing a brand on this basis.

Play starts with pay  

In fact, several of the most important factors in the evaluation and FTD decision phases of the acquisition funnel relate to payments. When selecting a sportsbook, the top factor for German and Italian bettors is streamlined payouts, with 43% of Germans and 41% of Italians prioritizing this. Players in both markets consider cashing-out more important than brand trust, odds, promotions, user experience, sports markets, and, as mentioned, sponsorship deals.

Payouts are almost as crucial for starting the customer experience in France. Cashing-out is the most important factor (35%) in French players’ choice of sportsbook except for odds (37%).

UK players prioritize brand trust (35%) and good odds (29%) when choosing a brand, but payouts are almost as essential a factor, prioritized by 27%.

And it’s not just payouts. The availability of a player’s preferred payment method is also crucial, with 34% of Italian bettors and 31% of French players prioritizing this when choosing a book.

In the other two markets players may be slightly less swayed by a sportsbook’s range of payment methods, but there are still 21% of UK bettors and 19% of Germans prioritizing this.

Quick and easy deposits are also vital for player acquisition and rival bettors’ top non-payments considerations. Italian players prioritize streamlined deposits (27%) over odds (23%) when choosing where to wager. Germans place even more emphasis on deposits (prioritized by 30%), and in the other markets, around a quarter of players consider this factor important – 26% in France and 23% in the U.K.

Transactional takeaways

What does this mean for acquisition strategies? Ultimately, our research suggests that payments are crucial for starting the customer experience in three core areas. To maximize their converted FTDs, operators need to prioritize integrating payment methods with seamless payouts. As well as cards, this means including digital wallets like Paysafe’s Skrill and NETELLER solutions, which support some of the industry’s fastest payout speeds.

And the strong correlation between the availability of a player’s preferred payment method and converting them suggests that operators need to offer as broad a range of transactional options as possible. As well as debit cards and – when permitted by regulators – credit cards plus digital wallets, they should include eCash solutions like paysafecard plus mobile wallets and payment methods only available locally.

Of course, every customer experience ultimately starts with a deposit. Given players’ prioritization of rapid deposits, all payment methods they integrate should be evaluated according to their speed at funding a wager. Several digital wallets like Skrill now support instant funding direct from a bettor’s bank account.

Although the Premier League’s front-of-shirt ban is two years away, it’s payments rather than sponsorships that mark the real start of players’ customer experiences with sportsbooks. In the countdown to Euro 2024 and Paris 2024 this summer, the best time for operators to optimize their payment stack is now.

To learn more about how payments will prove pivotal for player acquisition, retention, and revenue growth for online sports-betting brands, download All the ways players pay 2024. Zak Cutler and Paysafe’s iGaming team will also be at the ICE London conference February 6-8 (Stand N5-220).