When Super Bowl LVI takes place on Sunday, it could produce unprecedented handles for sportsbooks across the US as a record amount of people are expected to wager on the game.
Paysafe’s Zak Cutler, CEO of North America iGaming, has reflected on how this year’s Big Game will be a defining moment for all areas of the industry, sports betting and payment firms alike.
We expect this Sunday’s game in the Los Angeles Rams’ home stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals to be the Super Bowl when US online and mobile sports betting comes of age. Super Bowl LVI follows hot on the heels of first New York launching a mobile sportsbook market and then Louisiana. In just a month, the Empire State alone overtook New Jersey as the largest sports-betting market, with the New York State Gaming Commission reporting $1.6bn wagers placed on sports.
The combination of New York with other newer regulated markets like Louisiana and Arizona, which launched in September, and the more than 20 other states that permit some form of sports betting, will ensure unprecedented betting volumes on America’s biggest annual sporting event.
At the same time as it presents a major revenue opportunity for online and mobile sportsbooks, the surge in betting volumes will also be a challenge to negotiate – especially at their cashiers. Our broader ecommerce research in the fall ahead of the Black Friday weekend revealed that over a third (36%) of US and global merchants regularly receive online checkout issues during holiday spikes. This dynamic is doubly valid in the igaming space, where customers are not only depositing, or paying funds into their accounts, but also cashing-out winnings from successful wagers.
For online and mobile sports betting, there can be no play without pay. And the sportsbooks that get the depositing and payouts experience right in the countdown to Super Bowl LVI will gain a major competitive advantage. Our 2021 US sports betting payments research revealed that frictionless payments was the top factor for players when choosing a sportsbook, and prioritized over all other criteria, including odds, sports markets offered, and bonuses.
And ahead of Sunday, payments choice matters. Credit cards and debit cards may be king for Americans online, with approaching two-thirds of consumers using a card (60% and 59% respectively) at least monthly, according to our May 2021 research. However, US igaming’s ongoing, albeit improving, card decline issue means that it’s vital for sportsbooks to offer alternative payment methods at the cashier, with our 2021 igaming research revealing that over a third of sports bettors (35%) would attempt a deposit with a digital wallet after experiencing a card decline.
But beyond the card decline issue, offering payments choice at the cashier is simply responding to a broader American consumer trend. Four out of 10 Americans (40%) used a digital or mobile wallet at least monthly in 2021, with online cash, or ecash, usage also growing in popularity (used by 12% monthly).
Ultimately, the US online and mobile sportsbooks that get their payments mix right for Super Bowl LVI will not only convert the most customers but also keep them long after the crowds have left the SoFi Stadium in LA – and they will be as much victors as the Rams or Bengals come Sunday.