Most gambling sites specialise in either online casino or sports betting, but nearly all of them offer both verticals. This enables them to maximise and recycle player bankrolls and in theory at least the potential for cross-selling is significant.
For sports bettors the restricted number of events and sporting seasons can be a key driver in encouraging them to try their hand at online casino products. The reality however is tempting consumers from casino to sportsbook or vice versa is challenging.
There is a clear demographic intersection between the online sports bettors and iCasino markets in the UK – both are primarily frequented by men aged between 25-54.
The most often quoted example of cross-sell goes from sports betting to casino, where sports fans might partake in a few hands of blackjack or spin a few slots during a half-time break.
One of the reasons betting companies are also keen on encouraging their players to partake in casino is because the lifetime values of an online casino gambler are five times higher than that of the standard sports bettor, and revenue from online casino outstrips that of sports betting in Italy and the UK, Europe’s two largest markets.
Research also shows that consumers who engage in both verticals have a higher retention rate at gambling sites. For all these positives however, the reality is that it is very difficult for operators to cross-sell from one vertical to another at scale.
That is one of the reasons DraftKings acquired Golden Nugget Online Gaming in the US and why a UK group such as Entain maintains its major betting brands such as Ladbrokes or bwin alongside gaming portals such as PartyCasino or Pokerstars.
In the UK, newer entrants or groups with minimal brand awareness such as Kindred Group and its flagship brand Unibet chose M&A as its strategy to gain market share. But even then it had to acquire brands with a specific online betting and casino focus in Stan James and 32Red to make inroads into the UK market.
With regard to statistics, the sports data provider Delasport surveyed more than 100,000 players across a dozen brands and found the following among players who are active for more than three months and who bet 70% of their wager on sports, with the remaining 30% on casino:
43% of players were aged 26-35 and 29% were 36-45.
46% gambled on live games, 39% on slots and 8% on RNG games.
Only 25% played both live games and slots.
Sports themes made no difference to game choice.
Bettors tend to bet low, with the average live bet only 30% of their average sports wager.
Bettors that wagered single sports bets tended to play it safe in the casino.
Those who placed riskier bets (harder to win) took more risks in the casino and were more likely to place higher-risk bets.
There was no correlation between bettor types and slot volatility.
Effective cross-selling: products through bonuses
Much cross-selling is done via free bonuses that allow consumers to try out new products without risk. In addition, offering a bonus for a new casino product can help a sports bettor make up their mind to try it out.
However, the product is just as important. For example, slot sites will naturally attempt to promote their best-performing online slots to players, even though those games might not resonate with them. However, providing casino content with a sporting theme can increase the potential for cross-sell further. DraftKings in the US has demonstrated this by creating sports-themed table games such as Basketball Blackjack.
Most betting operators are also holding back from listing casino games alongside sports markets, not wanting to distract from their primary destination, but they are also designing solutions such as easy swipe access to casino games during halftime to bridge the gap and let bettors effortlessly switch between the two verticals.
Cross-selling in the USA
In the US the market, product and bonuses are ready, but how effective are operators at cross-selling between casino and sports betting?
It is clear that the cross-selling can generate major revenue opportunities if operators can capture US consumers’ attention. Leading operators such as DraftKings, BetMGM and Flutter Entertainment’s FanDuel all run top-of-the-line sportsbooks with their casino brands running alongside them.
As mentioned earlier, DraftKings acquired Golden Nugget Online Gaming in 2022 as a way to increase its online casino revenues but also and mainly because it wasn’t driving as much cross-sell from online betting to casino.
For BetMGM, the leading iCasino operator with nearly 30% market share in the US, its omnichannel strategy and customer loyalty programmes play a key role. The group is leveraging MGM’s land-based casino presence and coordinating its online activation and rewards programmes with those physical outlets.
This ability to harness the more profitable online casino vertical is also one of the reasons why sports betting market leader FanDuel views BetMGM as one of its more serious rivals.
Marcus Yoder, SVP of Sales with the platform provider GAN, confirmed the importance of the online-physical interaction when he commented: “There’s a clear correlation between the success of an online game and whether or not it has a land-based version. The players who go into the casino or their favourite casino’s online site, whether it be simulated or real money, are going to look for their favourite game.”
The best chance for successful cross-selling
While everything required for successful cross-selling is there, iGaming and sports operators need the right timing and perfect positioning of content and bonuses to convince consumers to flick from one vertical to another.
Even then, this might not lead to success, as creating a behavioural change is challenging and reaching the right balance between betting and casino is never easy. Chiefly, operators would do well to study the behaviour of players who have already made this move, so they can correctly target bonuses and games to different types of gamblers and have the highest chance of a successful cross-sell.
Cross-selling in online gambling: not as easy as it sounds was first seen on Casino Life Magazine