As mobile gambling operators increasingly tout emerging bet types enabled by improving technology – offerings like micro-betting, in-game wagering, and 24/7 iGaming – some industry observers think they might be missing a far more fundamental step: processing initial deposits quickly and properly.
New data suggests they’re right.
A survey conducted this year by Sapio Research for the payment company PayNearMe found that many new customers are making their decisions well before they browse a given platform’s bet types. In fact, in a surprising number of cases, they’re making up their mind the minute they try to fund their accounts.
According to the survey, conducted in February with more than 2,000 respondents in 19 states with legal gambling, 52% of bettors had issues with declined payments when signing up for a new betting application. Of that number, 17% simply walked away from that app and never returned. Another 22% gave it another try before moving on.
That’s a lot of customers leaving the stadium before kickoff, particularly as legal gambling expands to involve more casual bettors. Let’s stick with the football analogy for a moment.
“It’s amazing that there are still a handful [of operators] that have a lot of work still to be done in the payments arena, what I call the blocking and tackling,” said Leighton Webb, PayNearMe’s vice president of iGaming and sports betting. “It should be as easy as ordering an Uber or a cup of coffee through the Starbucks app, where I don’t even have to think about payments. It just works.”
Customers want seamless payments
Webb said he recently opened a top-tier operator’s app to see how many tender types it offered for customers signing up. When he went to make a deposit using his preferred payment method, the payment was declined. He found there was no way to navigate back to the virtual cashier to try something else.
If one of the foremost authorities on payments has a frustrating experience, imagine what it must be like for a more casual user.
Customers’ frustrations with the usability of apps, particularly when it comes to depositing and withdrawing money, exploded after New York legalized mobile sports betting with a rash of complaints about Caesars Sportsbook‘s app. Despite spending lavishly on marketing in New York, the early blow to Caesars may have had a lasting impact. FanDuel and DraftKings have seized about 65% of the massive $9.3 billion mobile sports betting market in New York in the eight months since launch, with Caesars a distant third.
Sapio’s survey also found that 32% of bettors would deposit more if the payment process didn’t take so long. Respondents considered payment issues to be as important as the promotions an operator offers or whether or not they can bet on their favorite games through that platform.
Webb said one of the main takeaways from the survey is that many operators need to accept more types of tender, but not too many. The magic number seems to be six or eight. Accept more than that and it becomes confusing for the user.
PayPal, not cash, is king
The survey found the most popular method of making an initial deposit was PayPal (64%), followed by debit card, online banking, credit cards, the Cash app, paying directly from the bank, electronic fund transfers (or ACH), gift cards, and Venmo.
The survey found a surprising number of people (47%) are interested in using cash as one of their payment possibilities, whether by walking into a casino or using PayNearMe’s services to deposit or withdraw at a retail establishment. PayNearMe also has a cardless ATM option, with more than 20,000 Mastercard ATMs signed up already. Customers can punch in their credentials to withdraw up to $500 at a time from their accounts.
“Why would I want to get in my car and go down the street to use cash? The fact is, people do that,” Webb said. “Maybe it’s the anonymity, maybe it’s a way of budgeting. I’ve got this cash set aside to gamble and it’s not part of my banking account. For whatever reason, people use cash and it’s not going anywhere.”
Paper currency, by the way, first emerged in human history during the Tang Dynasty in China in the seventh century. As liberating as new technologies can be, they’re still limited by the comfort level of the people using them.