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Beyond Super Bowl: Payments & the gameplan for US sportsbooks’ growth

Discover how payments are proving instrumental for U.S. online sports-betting brands in starting new customer relationships and engaging their current player-base.

From a sports-betting perspective, last weekend’s Super Bowl LVIII was the biggest ever edition of the annual NFL football extravaganza, with new states like Massachusetts, Florida, and Maine having launched online markets since last February.

As operators look beyond the Super Bowl and prepare for upcoming sports events, it’s essential for their gameplan to include a major focus on payments, which are vital for both starting the player experience and strengthening customer lifetime values.        

Winning U.S. players starts with payments

Held in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium, Super Bowl LVIII marked a return to the start of U.S. sports betting, with Nevada the only state exempt from PASPA’s federal ban on single-event sports wagering. Following PASPA’s 2018 repeal by the U.S. Supreme Court, over 30 states now allow online or mobile sports-betting. Today the American market contains multitudes, requiring a tailored approach to player acquisition and retention, depending on which state an operator is targeting.

However, across all states one trends stands out: when it comes to converting players, it all starts with payments – and payouts in particular. When we recently surveyed bettors in new markets like Massachusetts and Ohio as well as New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, cashing-out quickly was their top consideration when selecting a sportsbook. Payouts were prioritized by 38% of players, trending higher in New Jersey (43%), which launched in the fall of 2018, as well as Massachusetts (41%), live from March 2023.

To maximize acquisition, operators should consider integrating payment methods like the Skrill digital wallet that support rapid payouts, given that players consider this more important than brand trust (prioritized by 33%), promotions (30%), good odds (26%), sports markets (16%), and UX (15%). And against the backdrop of sportsbooks continuing to partner with brand ambassadors and teams from North American sports leagues, only 11% of players say this would make them sign-up with a brand.   

Payment choice and instant deposits

Payments role’ in player acquisition doesn’t start and end with payouts. The availability of players’ preferred payment methods is also crucial when they select a book, with 27% prioritizing this and considering it more important than all other factors except brand trust, promos, and, of course, payouts.

A key takeaway here is that operators need to maximize the range of payment methods available in their cashiers. This means supporting card payments via a robust payment gateway as well as alternative payment methods (APMs) like digital wallets and even eCash solutions like Paysafecash. With 75m+ Americans using the Venmo mobile payment solution, operators should also consider integrating this and similar local payment methods (LPMs) available only in the U.S.

Offering payment choice is especially important in states that restrict payment methods. Operators targeting Massachusetts, where credit cards are banned for sports betting, and New York, where credit card deposits are limited to $2,500 annually, should ensure they offer a suite of APMs and LPMs to cover their bases.

Players are also prioritizing rapid deposits when they select a sportsbook, with 25% of U.S. bettors prioritizing this, trending higher in the new market of Ohio (27%), which launched in January 2023, and Michigan (also 27%). Operators therefore need to evaluate their payment stack in terms of how quickly wagers can be funded, including considering payment methods like Skrill that support instant or near-instant deposits direct from a player’s bank account.

Payments and U.S. player retention

The value of payments extends way beyond converting players, to encompass their entire lifetime with the brand. In fact, 78% of American bettors say that the payment experience is an important factor in why they keep wagering with a particular sportsbook, with just 6% considering it unimportant and the remainder on the fence.

The result of this is that a bad payment experience inevitably leads to customer churn. Two thirds of players (68%) would abandon a sportsbook if they had an unpleasant experience at the cashier, with bettors in the new state of Ohio (72%) and the largest addressable market of New York (73%) particularly sensitive.

To optimize the payment experience and therefore maximize customer lifetime values, operators need to ensure the payment methods in their cashier balance transactional speed with security. As with player acquisition, offering as much payment choice as possible, including APMs and LPMs, is also crucial for retention.

Ultimately, the operators that start to reassess and then strengthen their payment offering today will likely see improved player acquisition and reduced customer churn at future sports events, including next February’s Super Bowl LIX in New Orleans.  

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.