Gen Z has started to reach gambling age and exclusive new research explores how their views on sports betting compare to Millennials'

  • Some of Gen Z has reached legal gambling age and the sports-betting industry has taken notice. 
  • A study by Team Whistle shared with Insider explores Gen Z and Millennial views on sports betting. 
  • It suggests young sports bettors see gambling as a side hustle, such as card or sneaker collecting.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

The oldest members of Generation Z are now of legal gambling age and the US sports industry is taking note.

Sports- and entertainment-media company Team Whistle shared a report with Insider that explores the young generation’s attitudes toward gambling on sports, compared with Millennials.

Team Whistle, which has a largely Millennial and Gen Z audience, said it started researching the topic to help it program content around sports betting and arm its ad-sales team with insights that might appeal to marketers.

The findings suggest that, like Millennials, members of Gen Z who are of legal gambling age see sports betting as a kind of side hustle.

“The younger generation is seeing a lot of their passions and hobbies as a side hustle,” Tommy Walters, research and insights manager at Team Whistle, told Insider. He compared the view of sports gambling as entrepreneurship to the way young people are are driving interest in card, sneaker, sports memorabilia, and other collectibles.

While much research has been published on the demographics and behaviors of sports gamblers since US overturned a federal ban against the sports betting in 2018, gambling operators have not talked much openly about courting this audience, given their young age. Gen Z is currently between the ages of 6 and 24. Yet, given signs that traditional sports are falling out of favor with young fans, Gen Z could have a big impact on the future of the industry.

Team Whistle, through survey-software partner Qualtrics, surveyed in December 2020 470 people in the US aged 21- to 34-years-old about sports gambling. People in the Gen Z age range made up one quarter of the respondents. It’s a relatively small sample size but this is one the few studies that has assessed the differences between Gen Z and Millennials.

A 2020 CivicScience poll previously found that 10% of respondents aged 18 to 24, which would include Gen Z, said they bet on sports somewhat or very often, which was the highest share of any demographic in that survey. But a larger share of those ages 24 to 35, which mostly corresponds to the Millennial age range, said they’d be likely to bet on sports if it were legal.

The Team Whistle survey mostly assessed how young people of gambling age like to engage with sports betting. It did not ask directly about attitudes toward legal or illegal betting, or the more taboo aspects of sports gambling.

Here were some of the top findings from the survey: 

  • 52% of the respondents had gambled on sports in the last year, including roughly half of those in Gen Z.
  • 76% agreed with the statement that sports betting is a form of “entrepreneurship,” including 72% of the Gen Z and 77% of Millennial respondents.
  • The Gen-Z sports gamblers (70%) were more likely than Millennials (52%) to select that they bet with a “clear strategy in mind” over the option that they bet on a “gut feeling.” 
  • 51% of the Gen-Z sports bettors selected that they bet on sports they don’t normally watch.
  • Gen-Z respondents were 13% more likely than Millennials to indicate they talked about losing a bet, based on a question that asked if they agreed with the statement that they only talk about their bets when they win.

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