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Future payments: How sportsbooks can prepare today for how players want to transact tomorrow

Forward-thinking operators will strengthen their cashiers now to meet online sports bettors’ payment preferences for 2025 and beyond.

Next month marks the 6th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark repeal of PASPA, the federal ban on single-event sports betting. In just a few years there has been seismic change in the U.S. gaming landscape, with 30+ states now allowing online sports betting. And payments have evolved in tandem, with players’ transactional preferences undergoing much diversification.

A key takeaway from the last few years in both North America and Europe is that change is constant in iGaming payments. Forward-thinking operators need to strengthen their cashiers today to meet players’ expectations on how they want to transact in the years to come.

Alternative payments become mainstream

Online sports bettors’ payment preferences already include alternative payment methods (APMs). Surveying players in the U.S., Canada’s Ontario, the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy, for our 2024 ‘All the ways players pay’ research report, we found that 37% of bettors consider digital wallets one of their top-three payment preferences, while 13% say online cash is a preferred payment method.

However, it's important to qualify players’ current APM usage, especially when it comes to digital wallets, which are the go-to payment method of a minority of players. Most players who wager with wallets do so only sometimes (54%) or rarely (16%), with just 30% using one for all their bets.

Looking ahead, though, players seem to have significant appetite for digital wallets, online cash, online bank transfer solutions via ACH, and other APMs. Close to six out of 10 global bettors (58%) expect to wager more with alternative payments by end-2025. Just 13% of players don’t expect to increase their betting with APMs, and the remaining 29% are on the fence about the future, suggesting they could be swayed if more APMs were available at sportsbooks’ cashiers.

And APM availability should also be the main takeaway for operators wanting to future-proof their cashier and, by extension, their sportsbook. There is already significant usage, and appetite is growing. Integrating in 2024 digital wallets like our Skrill and NETELLER solutions, online cash products like Paysafecash and paysafecard, and our upcoming U.S.-focused Pay by Bank online bank transfer solution, will pay off even more in the years to come.

From open banking to real-time payments

Our research reveals that the top two factors that players prioritize when transacting are financial security followed by transactional speed. Against this backdrop, it’s been no surprise to see the emergence of open banking solutions like our new Pay by Bank product, which allows American bettors to rapidly fund wagers while benefiting from the robust security of logging-in to their online bank account.

That said, our research suggests that open banking solutions are not broadly available with sportsbooks, given low player awareness and even lower usage. Just 42% of players are familiar with the term ‘open banking’ in the context of sports betting, and of these only 65% have actually used it to fund a wager.

This could very well change – if operators respond to player demand. After all, 55% of global bettors wanted to see open banking solutions more widely available at online sportsbooks by end-2025, with just 8% not interested and the remainder having no opinion either way.

If operators heed players’ calls for more open banking solutions, they need to be even more attentive to their appetite for real-time payments. Given that bettors prioritize speed above all else except security, it’s logical that 68% want to be able to fund wagers and receive payouts in real time, with only 6% satisfied with the status quo.

Crypto calling    

The prospect of crypto payments for sports betting is perhaps the biggest wild card. Broadly, the availability of crypto as a payment method at regulated sportsbooks has been limited by the fact that very few gaming regulators have openly regulated crypto payments, with the U.S. state of Wyoming one of the only exceptions.

And if other gaming regulators were to follow Wyoming’s lead? Even against the backdrop of the market volatility of the crypto winter of 2022, there is still significant appetite from players. Half of global bettors (50%) have an interest in making deposits and receiving payouts using Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, trending even higher in the U.S. (58%) and especially in New York, where 72% are bullish.

Operators should monitor the regulatory space closely for changes that will allow them to meet the relatively robust demand for crypto. And as they do, they can future-proof their cashier by re-evaluating their integrated payment methods to ensure APMs like digital wallets, and online cash are included alongside open banking and real-time payments solutions. Time is of the essence in iGaming – and there’s no better time to prepare for the transactional future than making changes now.

To learn more about future payments for online sportsbooks, download All the ways players pay 2024.