The Use of SMS in Sports Betting & Gaming

It’s almost irresistible to ignore that buzz in your pocket. The majority of the world these days are more than eager to go straight for their phone when they feel it, so you can always rely on a text to get their attention.

Now pair that buzz with someone who’s getting ready to go out and support their favorite team on match day, or even sitting down to watch Euro 2020 on their tv. I’m sure their fingers might twitch twice as fast to get to their phone when they feel it vibrate.

SMS is a great way to get yourself in front of your customers, especially when it comes to the Sports Betting & Gaming industry. Sending promotions or odds to your users through SMS is a brilliant way to stay top-of-mind.

Consumers engage with SMS faster than any other channel of communication out there. And they’re highly likely to open them too. It’s not uncommon to see open rates at around 90%, or sometimes even higher.

Throughout this blog, we’ll be exploring the benefits of SMS as a promotional channel in the Sports Betting and Gaming industry.

How is it used in the industry?


The onboarding process for new customers can often be a multi-step task. As we all know, there are strict regulatory requirements around setting up a new account with a sportsbook or online casino. Typically, a new player will take multiple visits to all of the necessary supply personal information. 

And of course, what you don’t want to happen is for a potential player to give up halfway through. And this is where SMS can be highly effective.

SMS gives you a direct line of communication with players through the device that they use most often.  We recommend that you prioritise the collection of an SMS number early in the account creation and registration process so that you have the ability to re-engage the player if necessary (and within reason of course).

Use of SMS in the sports betting and gaming industry


When it comes to sporting events there is usually a build-up of excitement that begins a few weeks before a ball is even kicked, served, or teed off. This is a great window for sportsbooks to get their promotions in front of their players’ eyes.

The high-visibility factor of SMS is the reason for its quality performance. People read their text messages and it’s not uncommon for sportsbooks and companies to see a 90% open rate for their SMS campaigns. Adding to this, the SMS inbox is much less competitive than a user’s email inbox, for example.

With all this in mind, including SMS campaigns for your promotions, regardless of industry, is a must-have.

For the best results, we advise using audience segmentation to identify which sports and teams each player typically likes to place a wager on. A well-timed SMS campaign, sent in the build-up to kick-off for a big game, is a well-worn and successful strategy for any sportsbook.

Using SMS to promote big game odds

Fall Back Channel 

Recent years have seen a big focus on push notifications for outbound campaigns within this industry. 

With push notifications, there is the option to use personalisation in the messages you’re sending to your customers. Images, GIFs, and emojis can be used in these types of messages to catch the attention of your players. For any online sportsbook and casino, adding push notifications to your stack of engagement channels is now essential.

However, the best results for campaigns are usually achieved with a multichannel approach. By using SMS and push notifications in tandem, you’re more likely to see higher interaction and click-through rates. Which in turn should render an increase in app usage to place bets and spend money on your product.

SMS is generally used as what’s called the “fallback channel”. In other words, if for some reason the player can’t receive a push notification (maybe they haven’t opted in or recently opted out) then the message is sent via SMS instead.

This kind of fallback arrangement is usually orchestrated using a customer journey builder or workflow tool.

The simplicity of SMS Campaigns

SMS campaigns are generally pretty painless when it comes to putting them together. When compared to other campaigns, like push and email, there is much less involved in getting it up and running.

A kind of no-frills approach to SMS works really well in the sports betting industry. 

Short, punchy text with a clear message and CTA is the way to go if you want to see those engagement numbers stay high.

Universal reach

The global adoption of smartphones has had a major impact on the way companies communicate with their customers and the campaigns they run in order to do so. As mentioned earlier, there is now a big focus on mobile and app push campaigns.

For people to receive those types of notifications, you have to have a device that supports this type of messaging. This is something that not everyone in the world has the luxury of having. 

There are about 7.9 billion people in the world. Of these, 5.27 billion have a mobile device. Breaking these numbers down further, 3.8 billion people own a smartphone.

If every company, not just in the sports betting industry, were to just focus on push campaigns there would be 1.47 billion people not receiving any promotional messaging through their mobile devices. A huge chunk of the population.

The beauty of using SMS campaigns is that everyone with a mobile device, regardless of its kind, will receive your message. So for markets where smartphone adoption is low, SMS is definitely the right channel to prioritise.

The difference in cost (SMS vs Push vs Email)

The visual impact of push notifications, and even email too, plays a big role in why they are selected for certain campaigns. But there is also the cost factor as well. It seems that fewer brands are using SMS due to its hard, fixed cost.

With SMS, you’re looking at a comparatively higher cost. But with this high cost comes a pretty high open rate (around the 90% mark). The ROI is excellent and a campaign will generate much more than the cost of sending it. 

When it comes to a push campaign, the cost is often much lower, though engagements are not as high 

Finally, let’s compare SMS to email campaigns. When it comes to cost it, sits between SMS and push. However there is more of a battle for the email inbox than there is for SMS, so the open rate is significantly lower (verging on the 23% mark). The lower open rates have a bit of a knock-on effect on the reach of the campaign, which remains low and slow.

We recommend that all three channels are used and that to maximize their impact you need to understand when is the right time to use each of them.

SMS is often overlooked at times, especially given the rise in the popularity of push notifications. But there is a reliability factor with SMS campaigns, especially in the sports betting and gaming industry, that you don’t quite get with other campaigns.

About Xtremepush

Xtremepush is the sports betting and gaming industry’s leading choice for player engagement and retention software. We provide a broad range of globally recognised brands with a best-in-class SMS solution, in addition to a host of other channels and capabilities.