A new NFL football season wasn’t the only thing that kicked off in recent days. It’s also the start of another football gambling season — one that involves mobile commerce and digital payments, and companies trying to innovate their way to success in this growing field of transactions.
Some 15 percent of the U.S. adult population — more than 38 million consumers — plan to bet on NFL football during the 2019 season, according to fresh figures from the American Gaming Association. A full 24 percent of the country’s population would do so were they able to wager legally — as is the case now in 13 states, up from five a year ago, thanks to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Such legal betting promises to keep consumer experiences centered around pro football in the U.S. “The NFL stands to make $2.3 billion a year from a widespread legal sports betting market, largely as the result of increased fan engagement, and data from this survey show that bettors are more likely to engage with the league, its media partners and with other fans,” the trade group said.
Payments, of course, are a vital part of the whole legal betting process. And those payments, at least in general, are following larger consumer trends when it comes to methods and technology.
According to payments services provider FIS (via a report from CasinoBeats.com), “digital wallets will be the preferred method of payment for online gambling activities globally in three years, as further major legislative changes come to the fore. Driven by the prevalence of smartphones and availability of mobile applications to enable online gamers to embrace real-time payments, FIS is anticipating the trend to soar by 2022 as digital wallets become the preferred method worldwide.”
More online gambling sites also apparently are becoming more “friendly” to cryptocurrencies, at least according to CoinRevolution early this month. “These casinos have begun to accept deposits in the form of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and others,” that site reported. “One of the ways that these websites are able to differentiate is through user experience. A key part of user experience is payment speeds. When a user wins a big amount, they want to be able to withdraw their winnings as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, credit card withdrawals and those done through traditional payment processors can take a few working days.”
Such desire for speed is also helping to drive innovation in other forms of gambling-related payments. Indeed, as explained in a PYMNTS interview with Tom Cregan, CEO and managing director at Emerchants Limited (EML Payments), an Australian-based payment services firm, the rise of online and mobile (legal) gambling is providing benefits to reloadable and store-value cards, and driving innovation. The U.S. is one of the main examples of that, and a target of EML’s prepaid business expansion plans. After all, the country has a large pool of consumers ready to place bets, even if just a few times a year. Most importantly, the new legal atmosphere in the U.S. is letting individual states make up their own minds on gambling, as well as set their own rules in governing it.
In general, innovation and competence around card programs that focus on gambling — more specifically, gambling payouts — are driven largely by the high stakes involved in the activity. “There is no room for failure,” Cregan said. “You have enormous brands and massive amounts of consumers involved. There is little tolerance for any solution not working 100 percent of the time.”
In addition, fuel for card innovation comes from the ongoing move to mobile for state-approved gambling programs in the U.S. Sure, some state laws require in-person payments or impose other rules, introducing friction into the process. However, with so much potential tax revenue on the line, Cregan said, there are heavy incentives that favor mobile.
“As the industry grows, tax revenues will be significant, and [state authorities] will eventually move to a mobile-driven world” to better meet consumer demands and expectations, he said. “Lack of confidence will lead to lower tax revenues.”
That means potentially good news for these online gambling operators, as well as the accounts and consumer experiences they support.