Q&A with GeoComply exec on NFL in-stadium betting data: Bengals on top this season, Bills way down on the list

February 8, 2024 6:19 PM
Photo: By AlexanderJonesi - https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderjonesi/50645056777/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97167583
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
February 8, 2024 6:19 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

With the Big Game set for this Sunday, Vancouver-based GeoComply dug out some data showing the increase in sports-betting activity in NFL stadiums this season.

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GeoComply is a technology company that detects location fraud, working with operators to help verify a user’s true digital identity. Since the start of the NFL playoffs, GeoComply has identified a 24 percent increase in geolocation transactions and 12 percent increase in active user accounts when compared with last season’s NFL playoffs.

For the conference championship games, GeoComply registered a 35% increase in geolocation transactions and a 13% increase in active user accounts when compared to the conference championship games from last season.

When looking at the entire 2023-2024 NFL regular season, Paycar Stadium (home of the Cincinnati Bengals) had the highest average in-stadium geolocation transactions with an average of 67,850 per game. State Farm Stadium (home of the Arizona Cardinals) was next with an average of 64,931, followed by Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Philadelphia Eagles), at 61,406, Ford Field (home of the Detroit Lions) at 59,608, FedEx Field (home of the Washington Commanders) at 48,638, and Acrisure Stadium (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers) at 38,236.

Highmark Stadium, home of the Buffalo Bills, was way down the list, with an average of 16,985 transactions.

A deeper dive into Bills data supplied by GeoComply shows the biggest game for in-stadium transactions was during Week 8 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 21,548. Somewhat surprisingly, the two games with the fewest transactions were the Bills’s two playoff games – the wild card game against the Steelers (12,025) and the divisional game against the Chiefs (14,404).

Also, when looking at the entire 2023-2024 NFL regular season, GeoComply found fans at FedEx Field created the most new accounts for online sports betting. On average, 695 new accounts were created from within the stadium per game at FedEx Field this past season. MetLife Stadium came in second with an average of 438 new accounts created per game from within the stadium and Paycor Stadium came in third with 374 signups per game.

CDC Gaming Reports spoke with John Pappas, Senior Advisor at GeoComply, about the data.

Doesn’t GeoComply’s in-stadium data echo the projected handle ($1.2 billion, according to Eilers and Krejcik this week) for the Super Bowl and the beast that is NFL sports betting?

We really focus on NFL stadiums, because we know that the majority of betting that occurs in the U.S. occurs during the NFL football season. So from September through February, 60 percent of operators’ revenues is during that time. We decided to look at stadiums themselves. Were stadiums drivers of fan engagement through betting? Based on our data, we think they really are. Not only are people engaging with online betting platforms while they’re at a stadium, remarkably, they’re also establishing new accounts. We saw over 30,000 new accounts created this NFL season at the 16 NFL stadiums that we looked at. I found that to be an interesting statistic and I think it shows the power of how the real live sporting experiences are a fan favorite for bettors.

What’s the appeal for people in attendance at games, who sign up to bet?

We don’t believe that people are solely focused on their phones now at a game. But I think they’re talking to their buddies and they may wonder what the line is now on the game, wonder about the score of another game, and place a bet on that. I think it’s an additional layer of engagement. I don’t think it’s detracting from the game, it’s only adding to the experience.

What numbers were you projecting when you went into the study? What did you expect to see?

We knew that for some big games, there were going to be a lot of transactions. Like last year when we looked at the Super Bowl at State Farm Stadium, we saw over 100,000 geolocation checks, which is an incredible number. So I knew there would be big numbers. What I was really shocked about was the amount of people that signed up for sports betting accounts at the stadium. Maybe they saw an in-stadium advertisement that inspired them to open an app and set up an account.

That’s probably going to become more common. You’ll see stadiums with sportsbooks or some sort of a lounge that’s geared toward people being able to wager on their phone. They might want to build out a physical book where they have tellers and kiosks versus just having an environment where maybe they have some odds boards up and if you’re using their platform that’s sponsored there, you may get a bonus or some sort of a discount.

Did anything else stand out for you?

Generally, we’ve seen strong organic growth in the states that have legalized sports betting in 2023. Compared to 2024 in terms of what we’ve seen during the playoffs, there’s almost 25 percent growth in those states, so when you layer in the new states that were added in since the last year’s Super Bowl, like Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts, I expect that we’re going to see overall growth somewhere in the 30 to 40 percent range. And that’s a testament to the growth and popularity of betting and how much the NFL really drives that engagement.