Why US operators must nail the mobile betting and casino experience

A strong mobile experience is essential to the long-term success of operators in the growing US online betting and casino market. 

Late last year, Xtremepush’s specialist sports betting and gaming team hosted an in-depth webinar in association with our colleagues at SBC. 

Drawing on their years of experience working with the most recognised brands in both Europe and North America, Victor Sevciuc and Brandon Asgeirsson looked at the importance of mobile betting and gaming, and what US operators need to be aware of in order to maximise their revenue opportunities.

We recommend that you watch the webinar back on-demand to really understand this topic.

Below, we’ve summarised the key points for you, including several practical examples of how the leading operators are using mobile channels to engage with their player base and drive revenue at scale.

Mobile betting is on course to lead the European market

When looking for case studies and trends to examine, the mature European betting market has a huge amount of insight to offer to those in North America.

And in that sense, a report from the European Betting and Gaming Association really underlines the recorded, and projected, growth of mobile betting.

We’ve included a snapshot from this report, which predicts that by the end of this year mobile devices will surpass desktops for the volume of bets placed.

Percentage of bets placed on mobile devices

This a trend which we’re seeing reflected across other industries as well, from eCommerce to retail banking. Consumers prefer the convenience of making purchases and completing transactions on their smartphones and tablets.

Mobile gambling offers the same benefits. It allows the player to enjoy casino games or place a wager outside of their home environment and at whatever time they prefer.

And of course, for operators, it opens up many avenues to engage with them and encourage them onto your online properties. But we’ll cover that later.

Younger players prefer mobile betting

The graph above relates to all bettors, across all of the age groups. However, when we factor age into the equation then the balance swings overwhelmingly towards mobile.

Although it varies slightly from country to country, generally speaking, 45% of high-value bettors are in the 23-34 age bracket. And it won’t surprise anyone reading this that they favour mobile over desktop.

On the webinar, we discussed the example of Barstool Sports’ recent sportsbook app, launched in association with Penn Interactive (one of North America’s genuine industry titans). 

The app has been a runaway success, smashing all expectations. The Barstool brand appeals to a youthful demographic and has been built through strong, mobile-optimised content.

And we know from our experience in the publishing industry that desktop usage is plummeting in the US, particularly amongst the under 50s. So any betting operator that’s looking to emulate Barstool Sports and attempt to grow their player base through a content-lead strategy must prioritise the mobile experience.

The average online player is 4½ years younger than the average land-based player. That is already significant, but the gap is growing year on year.

Simply put, if US operators want to connect with core demographics then mobile is the key.

Mobile devices are better for in-play betting

We’ve written before about the role of in-play betting and how it drives revenue for sportsbooks. In Europe, in-play is hugely popular amongst bettors and has become the primary market for many operators. In fact, in 2019 BET365 reported that in-play was responsible for 79% of all betting revenue.

The stop-start and heavily structured nature of the major US sports makes them ideal for providing in-play betting activity.

When we think about the scenario in which in-play bets are usually placed, at social gatherings or even at the game itself, a strong mobile experience is essential.

And if you want to stimulate in-play activity, you naturally have a very small window to do so. The image below summarises this for the various sports.

In-play betting and mobile engagement

So again, we see that the real-time mobile channels like push notifications and in-app messages are the best options to engage with players. We’ll look at this in more detail further on.

Where is mobile betting currently legal in the US?

The US betting industry is fast-approaching an important milestone. In May this year, operators celebrate the three year anniversary of PASPA’s repeal.

Sports betting is now legal in 22 states, and that number will keep growing. Almost all states are at least on the path towards legalisation.

And the more conservative states are now seeing that the tax generated through legal gambling cannot be ignored, and will likely push on with legislation in the coming years.

Mobile and online sports betting is of course a distinct part of the overall conversation and not a guarantee. At present, 15 states allow it, with some requiring in-person registration initially.

The long term impact of Covid-19 on this industry, and how legislation might adapt, is potentially very interesting.

We all know how badly this pandemic has affected US land-based casinos. The reality is that footfall will likely never go back to where it was pre-Covid.

So online and mobile casinos must be allowed to open and welcome patrons digitally. It’s expected that over the next 12 months we’ll see more states fast-track the necessary legislation to make this possible.

In fact, the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo recently reversed his opposition to mobile gaming, citing the loss of significant tax revenue to its neighbour New Jersey and the offshore books. This paves the way for mobile licenses in that state and could be a poster child for others.


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How can US betting and gaming operators engage with their mobile audiences?

Mobile engagement, whether that’s via an operator’s app or mobile-friendly website, is one of the core areas of expertise at Xtremepush.

We typically recommend a three-pronged approach to connecting with customers on mobile devices utilising the following channels; push notifications, in-app and on-site message and the inbox.

Each has its own strengths, with operators using them at different stages throughout the lifecycle to acquire and retain players while improving their betting experience.

We’ve highlighted the most common use cases for each channel below.

Push Notifications

As a starting point, we recommend push notifications to all of our sports betting and gaming clients. It has proven to be an essential part of the modern operator’s digital strategy, allowing you to connect with players in real-time and encourage them back into your app or onto your website.

Using push notifications to engage mobile players

Push notifications can be personalised to the recipient, allowing you to deliver individually relevant messages about their preferred teams and bet types. This makes it a perfect channel for stimulating betting activity.

They are also an excellent way to win back churned players or re-engage players at risk of churning.

In-app and on-site Messages

These are delivered in real time, as the player is browsing your app or website. They are typically used to remind players about a low balance and encourage them to make deposits, or to promote and cross-sell new games.

In-app and on-site messages used to drive engagement

They can also be used to educate players about the online betting process (particularly important in the US, where the concept will be new to many players) and nudge them through the registration process.

And the campaigns are easy to set and launch, in-app and on-site messages are highly effective in promoting daily deals and bet specials which change frequently.

Mobile and App Inbox

The inboxes function similarly to an email inbox, storing permanent and semi-permanent content for each player. The length of time that the message lasts can be set by the operator, making it ideal for time-sensitive odds and offers.

Using the web and app inbox to engage with mobile players

Our clients use this channel in multiple ways; reminding players that they have loyalty points left to spend or sharing welcome bonuses. 

If you are publishing sports-related content, the inbox will allow you to share it with the right target audience (based on their interests) in a place that is both convenient for them and highly visible.

What’s next for you?

Xtremepush is widely regarded as the industry leader in multichannel engagement technology, working with most of the biggest brands in Europe and North America. 

To learn more about Xtremepush and how we’re helping online sportsbooks and casinos acquire and retain their players, click on the button below to set up a personalised demo of our award-winning solution.