Will there be a winner in the American online sports betting race?

Will there be a winner in the American online sports betting race?

The race to find and acquire online sports betting audiences in the USA is hotting up thanks to ongoing legislative and technological progression. How can brands ensure they are in contention for the biggest opportunity in the industry in decades? Read on to find out more, and don’t forget to register for our webinar with Reddit on September 2nd at 10am PT/1pm ET to find out more,and please download our Online Sports Betting Trends USA paper for more trends data and insight.

Raising the stakes 

2020 was a remarkable year for sports betting in the USA, for the first-time legal sports betting generated an all-time high of $1.5 billion in revenue, a rise of 69% year on year. According to the American Gambling Association, 39% of adult Americans say they are either current or potential sports bettors, marking a significant opportunity for brands operating online sportsbooks in the USA. The potential size of the prize is eye-watering, with estimations of potential market growth landing anywhere between $15 billion by 2025 and $30 billion by 2030 depending on which report is being studied. With the stakes so high for brands operating online sportsbooks in the USA, it is imperative that they maximize this opportunity. A strategic, well-tested performance marketing plan to optimize user growth and brand recognition will be central to success.

What is driving growth?

After years of restrictions, what is behind the growth of the online sports betting sector in the USA?


In 1992 the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) banned sports betting across the USA. Nevada was the only state able to license and regulate sports betting of all kinds. In 2018 the Supreme Court overturned PASPA which allowed each US state to make decisions around sports betting themselves. The American Gaming Association tracks where sports betting is legal, and as of May 2021 there are 22 states where sports betting is legislated, 15 of which are allowing online bets to take place. You can see a map outlining state by state status in our Online Sports Betting Trends USA report.

Google Play

As of 1st March 2021, Google Play allowed entry of real-money gambling apps in the USA alongside 15 other countries for the first time. The change enabled online casino games, sports betting, horse racing and lotteries to operate in states that had passed legislation. This significant change saw key players in the space including FanDuel and DraftKings submit apps to Google Play within days.

Although Android apps existed previously, this change was imperative for an improved user experience and paid media acquisition. Moreover, it could open the door for increased Google powered marketing platforms – could Google’s DSP DV360 or Google App Campaign be next for lifting restriction and allowing gambling apps?

Due to these fundamental changes in approach, sports betting is booming, with significant media spends vying to position their brands on the winner’s podium. Competition for users will only increase as online sports betting becomes more prevalent and brands become available to potential users.

How to adapt your Performance Media planning

Ongoing changes to legislation ensure that running media for online sports betting brands is complex, with tight regulations around age, location, and sources. To navigate this sector, we’ve found key changes to media planning builds brands, and engages key audiences. Some performance media planning insights for this sector include:

Flighting is key, but not in the way you might expect

The largest sporting events such as the Super Bowl or March Madness happen but once a year and it is essential to spend around these events to drive awareness and acquire new users. However, it’s equally as important to sustain paid media efforts around low season times as users acquired during lesser-known games tend to have vastly higher LTV and retention.

An always-on strategy across core platforms such as Facebook and Reddit should be paired with an up weighting of spend on platforms that are dedicated to conversation and buzz such as Twitter. These are a great focus for when you are executing media around tent pole events.

Organics must be safeguarded at all costs

Marketers are rightly conscious of misattribution and ensuring they are not paying for their organic users. That being said, in this category with user payback high and increasing, it’s important to protect organic users and bid strategically on brand keywords. Across the likes of Apple Search Ads, CPC bids against core sportsbook brands or relevant terms can be in the hundreds and remain lucrative to the advertiser.

Continue to hypothesis test new audiences

Sports betting remains a new phenomenon with a continued expanding following. It remains important to use tools such as Comscore and Global Web Index to identify audiences with a high affinity toward sports betting. Insight generation can deliver new audiences for testing, for instance, dating apps such as Tinder where users of the app are found to have a heavy interest in sports and watching live games. Success has also been found applying these insights into Reddit buys to align with key communities expected to convert.

Reaching the finishing line

New and ongoing changes to the online sports betting landscape in the USA mark a significant opportunity for online sportsbooks, the likely winners will be those that can maximize their media planning budgets efficiently. The sector is complex and competition for users will be fierce in the coming years, which requires experienced planning and campaign management to ensure success.


Gambling can become an addiction. Users of gambling sites must understand there is no guarantee of winning, the loss of money is always a possibility and you are responsible for any losses. We are not responsible for the loss of money while gambling. Those with a gambling addiction should not ignore their problem. If you or someone you know has a gambling addiction or is having problems managing their gambling, contact an American addiction center that includes treatment for gambling problems. The National Council for Problem Gambling (NCPG) offers support and counselling referrals that may help you through personal, gaming-related issues. The NCPG operates a 24-hour confidential toll-free helpline that you can reach by phone or text at 1-800-522-4700 or chat at

Iowa residents with additional concerns about managing gambling can contact the Iowa Gambling Treatment Program at


In the United States gambling is illegal in many US states and restrictions such as age are in place. Illegal gambling is a misdemeanor that carries penalties in the USA.