TransUnion: Operators must identify distressed bettors better

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More than half of mobile sports bettors earn high incomes of $100,000 or more, but over three quarters are concerned about their ability to pay current bills and loans in full, according to a survey carried out by TransUnion.

Reflecting on the research, Declan Raines, Head of US Gaming at TransUnion, has noted that the findings demonstrate operators must use data to “identify both resilient and distressed consumers”, especially during economic uncertainty times.

In partnership with third-party research provider, Dynata, TransUnion conducted an online survey to find out the financial status and behaviors of consumers who engage in mobile sports betting.

Taking place between May 12 and May 19, the survey had 2,739 US adult respondents, all of which were over the age of 18, and a mixture of generations from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. TransUnion then compared the findings to the total population results from its Consumer Pulse survey – Q2 2022.

Despite rising inflation and its impact on consumer personal savings rates, TransUnion’s research revealed that mobile sports bettors are showing greater stability to economic headwinds, making it tougher for online operators to identify resilient and distressed consumers.

Of the survey’s respondents, 54% said they earned high incomes of $100,000 or more, but 79% stated they were concerned about their ability to pay current bills and loans in full (Total population: 52%).

Specifically, 16% of sports bettors have anticipated not being able to pay credit cards (Total population: 11%), while 9% have expressed concern over paying personal loans (Total population: 4%).

Commenting on the findings, Raines said: “At face value, most of the consumers engaging in mobile sports betting can likely afford to do so.

“At the same time, our findings demonstrate how important it is, especially during a time of economic uncertainty, that operators utilize comprehensive data to identify both resilient and distressed consumers.

“Doing so can help operators protect players and provide a safer experience to consumers engaged in regulated betting.”

TransUnion’s survey also discovered that while sports bettors can access more ways to help pay their bills and loans, there were still troubling signals. 26% of respondents have used payday lending services (Total population: 12%), and 66% have been past due on bills or loan payments (Total population: 31%).

The research also highlighted the importance for operators to employ third-party data to differentiate between resilient and distressed consumers, monitor player stability, and flag risky behavior, allowing them to employ appropriate interventions.

Raines added: “The obvious benefit of a robust responsible gaming strategy is helping to keep players out of financial trouble, improving brand loyalty, and ensuring sustainable revenue.

“Beyond that, it also demonstrates proactive efforts that improve public sentiment toward the industry overall, which is necessary if the market wants to see increased support for state access across sportsbook and online casino products.”

Margaret Poe, Head of Consumer Credit Education at TransUnion, has argued that mobile sports bettors need to become more mindful of their credit health.

Poe stated: “Payment history and credit utilization rate, a measure of how much of available credit someone is using compared to their total credit limit, are two of the major credit scoring factors.

“Missing payments and running up credit balances can have a severe, negative impact on a consumer’s credit score.”

Odds Assist recently conducted a survey that discovered over half of sports bettors who have used a credit card to wager have fallen into debt as a result.

Reflecting on this finding, Dave Rathmanner, Founder & CEO of Odds Assist, has urged state regulators and operators to think about banning credit card deposits to help bettors avoid financial and problem gambling issues.