RGC Discovery conference: Shining a spotlight on Gen Z and sports betting

March 28, 2024 10:34 PM
Photo: Kath Films (courtesy)
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
March 28, 2024 10:34 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

When you look at the data, one trend really stands out: Gen Z, the most technologically saturated generation of our time, is flocking to online gambling. Yet it’s not surprising; technology and media have shaped this cohort since birth. Plus, the worldwide pandemic caused this age group to move even more to distance online learning.

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The Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) held its annual three-day Discovery conference in Toronto this week, featuring panel discussions with industry spokespeople talking about the latest trends in prevention programming, research breakthroughs, and innovative technology.

A panel discussion yesterday looked at strategies around responsible-gambling messaging and Gen Z, and how best to get through to them.

The panels featured Alicia Petralia, Head of Media, Zulu Alpha Kilo Inc.; Dr. Carrie Shaw, Senior Researcher, Responsible Gambling Council; Dr. Rory Pfund, Clinic and Research Director, Tennessee Institute for Gambling Education & Research; Elaine McDougall, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, RGC; and Nnamdi Azikiwe, Program Assistant, NGC.

Petralia presented data that shone a spotlight onto how Gen Zers are betting.

Gen Z are aged 12-27 and account for 16 percent of Canada’s total population. An hour and a half per day is spent streaming digital TV or video and on top of that, another two hours per day watching linear TV, since they likely live at home with their Gen X parents. They’ll be cord cutters when they move out.

Plus, their attention span is down to eight seconds, a small window of opportunity to connect with them. And they pay attention to advertising, according to data presented at the panel; 39% of them agree that advertising influences their purchases, an increase from the Millennial generation.

“What category has a lot of advertising? Gambling,” said Petralia. “They’re also the generation most influenced by celebrities, influencers, and online communities. They trust advice from a person more so than a brand or product.”

While touching on the new AGCO ad standards that forbid the use of celebrities in igaming advertising, “the damage has been done,” Petralia said, noting that 28% of Gen Z have gambled online over the past year, meaning 1.7 million young adults making bets with real money.

Most of their online-gambling spending is on slots and bingo, but 20% of the total Gen Z betting population is placing sports bets. They’re consuming a lot of audio content and most are on Facebook and Instagram for sports betting, not TikTok. Twitch banned gambling streams. That’s how we got the Kick gambling community.

“They’re really into the thrill of sports betting,” she added. “It can be exciting, so 46% of them agree when they get it, they love the sense of achievement when they win. Another theme that comes out is they love to live in the moment. Over half of them like to take risks. They agree that they like to have fun and not worry about the future. And 46% of them are making gut decisions. So there’s definitely a live-in-the-moment type of excitement that Gen Z sports bettors are experiencing.”

And more telling: They’re feeling burdened economically, so 71% of them said that based on the current cost of living, they can’t save enough money, with 54% looking for a side hustle to make money on top of their regular income. A full 41% of Gen Z sports bettors say they know that betting on sports isn’t a good way to make money (15% of them have bet more money than they can afford to lose, with 32% feeling guilty about sports betting).

“So a lot of negative feelings and outcomes are coming from this behavior with some of this group, which is why the work that we’re doing to promote responsible gambling is so important,” Petralia said.

To get more RG messaging that resonates with young people, she said it’s paramount for operators to use advertising and celebrities and find content creators and online communities to use that as a voice.

“Don’t forget that you have to have that hook very early,” she said. “There’s such a short window of opportunity to reach this generation. You need to be bold, you need to stand out, such as using bold visuals or an audio mnemonic, something that’s going to really capture their attention to break through.”