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Bittersweet June: The Return of Online Sports Betting

The numbers show that the sports betting industry completely revived following the COVID-19 declines. But there's more than the numbers to it

COVID-19 impacted the entire online sports betting industry – from cancellations to postponements – perhaps more than almost any other space out there. At the peak of the lockdown, player activity dropped by 70% compared to the weeks before the virus erupted. Find all gaming trends on our special Coronavirus Gaming Pulse.

But since the end of May, the tides had begun shifting, when major European football leagues returned to complete the 2019/20 seasons and national cups. The German Bundesliga was followed by the Polish, Turkish & Greek leagues. The Spanish La Liga, English Premier League, and others followed as well. Once again, sports fans and bettors can enjoy the top European sport they love so much.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

And now, when analyzing the year-over-year figures, it seems the online sports betting industry is back on its feet.

June 2020 figures were 104% compared to the previous year – in other words – the number of unique online sports betters has re-aligned with 2019. Some might say it’s a remarkable accomplishment considering the deficit in April and May and a pleasing insight for online sport betting operators seeking to point to a brighter future.

So yes, we can happily (and cautiously) say that we’re reaching the light at the end of the tunnel. But, as each country exits COVID and resuming activities differently, we want first to ask – are all countries experiencing the same return-of-sport success?

In the graph below, a breakdown of June ’20 compared to June ’19 highlights these differences across selected European countries:

As we can see, not all countries are bouncing back equally. In nations where leagues haven’t resume (like Ligue 1 in France and the Belgian first division), sports bettors still lag compared to previous years. On the other hand, Germany, who was the first to re-launch their major league, experienced the highest increase compared to last year.

According to the values presented above, some might say the online sports betting industry is entirely back to business. But are we really back to normal?

Two Consecutive “Dry” Off-Seasons

To interpret the values correctly, we need to keep in mind that June 2019 was the kind of off-season month that has no major summer tournament in it. No World Cup. No Olympics to build up to. No Euro. And when comparing June 2019 to the resat of that year’s average, it emphasizes the decrease in June.

As we can see, June (and July) had the lowest number of online sports bettors than the yearly average of 2019. As currently, we are at about 100% YoY in June, and even as we see most major European leagues back in action, could it be that we’re actually experiencing a 2nd consecutive “dry” off-season? (something that usually doesn’t happen, as every even-numbered year has either Olympics+Euro or World Cup in it. According to the numbers, we are surely in the midst of another “dry” summer.

June 2020 held a massive promise to many football fans and sport betting brands, expected to see the most prominent European competition of all – Euro 2020, followed by the Tokyo Olympics.

While the increasing trends in events and betting players might appear uplifting after two challenging months with no sports, it is still far from what we’ve thought the summer of 2020 would bring.

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Omer Liss

Omer Liss is Optimove's Director of Strategic Services, helping CRM executives of top online entertainment and e-commerce businesses optimize their customer retention strategy. Omer has vast experience consulting clients, analyzing their customer data and revealing actionable, data-driven marketing insights. Omer holds a BSc in Industrial Engineering and Management, specializing in Information Systems.