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  • Betting turnover soars during Women’s World Cup after England reach final

After Spain took home the trophy at the FIFA Women’s World Cup last week, sportsbook supplier Kambi has revealed a variety of data on betting activity around the tournament.

The key facts and figures are presented below, in partnership with iGaming NEXT.

Betting volume

Betting turnover during the event was 93% higher than on the UEFA European Women’s Championship (Euro) 2022, which concluded last July.

In the Women’s World Cup, 58% of bets were placed pre-match, with 42% of bets being placed in-play.

By way of comparison, the Men’s World Cup in 2022 saw 70% of bets placed pre-match and 30% in-play.

Most popular bets – pre-match

Of all pre-match betting, bets on the full time result were by far the most popular, with 36% of pre-match turnover placed on that market.

Bets on the total number of goals were the next most popular, accounting for 13% of turnover. 

Bets on total corners and double chance bets – which allow bettors to bet on one team to win plus a draw, or on either team to win without a draw – each accounted for 4% of betting turnover.

Asian handicap bets – where teams are handicapped according to their form – accounted for 3% of pre-match betting turnover, as did bets on the team to go through, both teams to score and total goals in the match’s first half.

Bets on total goals by home team and total goals by away team each accounted for 2% of betting volume.

Most popular bets – in-play

Many of the same bets appear on the lists of most popular bets for both pre-match and in-play betting.

Total goals and full time result remained the two most popular bet types in-play, with 22% and 18% of turnover, respectively.

Total corners also remained the third most popular bet, albeit accounting for a higher percentage of betting volume in-play than pre-match, at 7%.

Bets on the total number of goals during the first half generated 6% of in-play betting turnover, while bets on the total goals in a given two-minute period accounted for a further 4%.

Bets on the next goal, team to go through, and total corners by both the home team and away team all brought in 3% of in-play betting turnover each.

Total goals by the home team was the 10th most popular in-play bet, generating 2% of turnover.

Most popular matches and players

Of the top 10 matches by turnover, the final between Spain and England was the most popular by betting volume, followed by the semi-final between England and Australia.

England’s quarter final versus Colombia was the third most popular match, while Colombia and Jamaica’s face off in the Round of 16 was fourth.

Other popular matches included the semi-final between Spain and Sweden, and the subsequent match for third place between Sweden and Australia after both lost their respective semi-finals.

Towards the bottom of the top 10 most popular matches by betting volume were Japan and Sweden’s quarter final, Round of 16 matches between France and Morocco, and Sweden and the USA, as well as the USA versus Vietnam in the tournament’s group stages.

Of the most popular players to bet on, three were from England (Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp and Lauren James). 

The rest of the top 10 was made up of players from Colombia (Linda Caicedo), Sweden (Amanda Ilestedt), Spain (Jennifer Hermoso), Germany (Alexandra Popp), Netherlands (Lieke Martens), Australia (Samantha Kerr) and France (Kadidiatou Diani).

The primary lobby group for the UK gambling industry has been accused of making inaccurate statements about the regulation of the £10bn-a-year sector the day before its boss appears before a parliamentary committee.

Michael Dugher, the chief executive of the Betting & Gaming Council (BGC), will be questioned by MPs on the Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport on Tuesday as part of a review of government proposals to improve gambling regulation.

On Monday afternoon, the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Foster wrote to committee members to raise concerns about the BGC’s reliability.

In the letter shared with the Guardian, Foster referred to a BGC press release about a report it had commissioned that pointed to a spike in the use of illegal betting sites between November and December 2022 during the World Cup in Qatar.

What was said in the press release

In the press release, the lobby group said the report showed that punters could be driven into the arms of illegitimate gambling operators if government regulation of the sector went too far.

However, the full report, written by the gambling analysis firm Yield Sec, was never published.

A copy obtained by the Guardian showed the report described the overall penetration of the parallel market as “low,” despite the rise and that it accounted for as little as 1% of overall UK gambling spend.

After the press release was issued in January, Dugher said the report showed the government should beware of imposing “blanket intrusive affordability checks,” referring to proposed mandatory tests to check gamblers can cope with their losses.

The report did not mention affordability checks as a cause of parallel market gambling. Most respondents to a survey commissioned by the Racing Post said people would turn to illicit sites if affordability checks were introduced. 

Foster told MPs on the committee he did not think the BGC had been “fully accurate” in its representation of the report or the scale of the parallel market.

He said: “The solution to addressing the black market is to introduce proper enforcement to disrupt the operations of these sites […] rather than abandoning much needed additional regulation of the gambling industry.”

Foster also raised concerns about “other instances when the BGC has not been entirely accurate” about its position on regulations.

In December 2022, Dugher tweeted that the lobby group had “fully and publicly supported” a ban on gambling with credit cards.

Contradiction with the gambling commission paper published

The Gambling Commission paper published in 2020 said “none” of the online gambling companies had supported such a measure during the consultation stage.

The BGC has also repeatedly said a voluntary industry ban on advertising during sports shown on television and TV reduced the volume of gambling adverts seen by children by 97%. 

The figure was in fact 70%.

The higher number referred only to the limited period covered by the voluntary ban and only to television, caveats the BGC failed to make clear on several occasions.

In April this year, after the government said it was considering a mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund addiction research, education and treatment, the BGC said its members would “welcome” such a move.

However, Dugher had written in May 2022 it would be a “big step backwards” for tackling gambling-related harm.

In a statement, the BGC said it had “introduced scores of new safer betting and gaming measures, including ensuring our members devote 20% of all TV and radio advertising to safer gambling messaging – backed by our groundbreaking Take Time to Think campaign.

“The Yield Sec study was commissioned to analyse the scale of the growing, unsafe, unregulated gambling black market online, and its findings were accurately reported.

“The importance of fact-based and transparent discussions around iGaming regulation cannot be overstated”, said a spokesperson of BritishGambler, an affiliate iGaming website writing about top legal gambling sites in the United Kingdom and added: “As a key representative, the BGC carries a responsibility to provide clear, accurate, and truthful communications regarding their positions and activities within the sector.

“At the same time, it’s crucial that measures aimed at combating problem gambling are carefully considered and designed before implementation.

“This will ensure that casual bettors are not unduly inconvenienced while still addressing the core issue of problem gambling,” the spokesperson added.

A streamlined bet-at-home has provided full-year revenue guidance for 2023 after EBITDA plummeted by 85% last year to €2.1m.

Topline numbers

Gross betting and gaming revenue from continuing operations hit €53.5m, a decrease of 9.8% on last year. The decline was primarily due to exiting the UK market and the implementation of cross-product deposit limits in its domestic market of Germany.

Sports betting revenue came in at €49m, down 13.4% year-on-year, while gaming revenue rose by 60.7% on the prior-corresponding period to €4.5m.

After the reduction of betting taxes and gambling levies, net gaming revenue (NGR) for full financial year 2022 reached €42m, down 11.8% annually.

Full-year EBITDA plummeted by 85% to €2.1m as so-called “other” operating expenses more than doubled to €16.2m.

These expenses included an increase in legal and consulting fees, as well as transaction costs, while other high costs relate to the reconciliation of legal disputes in connection with the bet-at-home.com brand, which is in liquidation.

Advertising expenses increased by 14.3% to €13.6m due to more acquisition and retention offers and a 2022 World Cup marketing campaign.

Personnel expenses decreased, however, by 27.4% to €13.5m due to a restructuring programme, which saw 65 Austria-based staff laid off amid further cut backs.

News nugget

The impact of extreme measures taken throughout 2022 to reorganise and streamline the firm’s operations stood out.

The company changed its historical approach of in-house development to increased outsourcing, with that strategy to be deployed throughout financial year 2023.

In the second half of 2022, operational focus was on the implementation and testing of a new platform, while extensive adaptations to meet German regulatory requirements were also introduced.

These measures, combined with withdrawal from the UK and further preparations for outsourcing, led to a significant reduction in the group’s workforce.

The company did not provide a figure for the number of employees.

Current trading and outlook

Management expects to generate gross betting and gaming revenue of between €50m and €60m for full-year 2023. It has also guided to EBITDA in the range of -€3m to €1m.

The company said Germany and Austria would become areas to target for revenue in 2023 due to the strong awareness in those markets of the bet-at-home brand.

Financial resources, resulting from staff cuts and other fixed cost cutting measures, will be primarily used for customer acquisition and marketing this year, according to management.

Affiliate group Better Collective referred a record 580,000 new depositing customers (NDCs) to its operator partners in Q4 2022, helped by the popularity of the FIFA World Cup.

Topline numbers

In Q4 2022, Better Collective generated revenue of €86.1m, a 63.2% year-on-year increase demonstrating organic growth of 44%.

Of the total, €41.3m was considered recurring revenue, an increase of 81% compared to Q4 2021.

Q4 EBITDA before special items totalled €35.2m, up 115.4% at an EBITDA margin of 41%.

The number of NDCs referred to operators by Better Collective during the quarter was an all-time high of more than 580,000, up 117% on the comparative period.

Of those NDCs, some 78% were sent on rev share contracts.

Those figures brought Better Collective’s full-year 2022 revenue to €269.3m, up 52.1% year-on-year, or 34% on an organic basis.

EBITDA before special items for the year was €85.1m, up 52.5%, on an EBITDA margin of 32%.

NDCs for the full year hit more than 1.68 million, up 96%, with 76% of those being referred on rev share contracts.

Geographical breakdown

Driven principally by Action Network, Better Collective achieved its previously stated target of exceeding $100m of revenue from the US during 2022.

The business achieved this milestone in spite of moving some $15m of revenue from upfront cost-per-acquisition (CPA) contracts to rev share deals, it said.

The US figure represents an annual growth rate of 102% in the region, helped along by revenue of €34m (up 71% year-on-year) in Q4.

US revenue therefore represented around 38% of the group’s total during the quarter.

In Europe and the Rest of the World, meanwhile, Q4 revenue hit €52.2m, up 59%, and accounting for some 62% of total group revenue.

News nugget

The FIFA World Cup played no small part in driving Better Collective’s record Q4 results.

The tournament helped to grow revenue in Europe and the Rest of the World by 59% to €52.2m, as more than 300,000 NDCs were referred to operators as a result of the tournament alone.

The performance exceeded the company’s expectations revealed CEO Jesper Søgaard, with the number of NDCs referred exceeding more than the last four men’s World Cups and European Championships combined.

Indeed, compared to the 2018 World Cup, the firm’s performance improved tenfold, “a true testament to how far we have come in just four years,” according to Søgaard.

Given that the majority of customers were referred on a rev share basis, there was a “short-term dampening effect” on performance, but the CEO insisted this would bring the business a long-term benefit for the future.

The launch of legalised sports betting in Maryland, meanwhile, helped grow US revenue by 71% to €33.9m, together with a busy North American sports calendar in Q4.

Best question

As Better Collective increases the number of partners it works with on a rev share basis, Hjalmar Ahlberg of Swedish investment bank Redeye asked whether operators in the US are becoming more open to striking that kind of deal with affiliates.

In response, Søgaard said: “We now have six partners in the US we are working with on rev share agreements, up from four in Q3. 

“We do see progress with more partners where we are working in a very aligned way and also in more of a strategic partnership way, with the aim of us being closer to the partner and ultimately able to to integrate better with them.

“So I think it’s a good development we see, and we sense that it’s also an acknowledgement of the position we have in the American market, with the brands we own becoming must-have brands for these partners to be featured. 

“We’ve even seen the Action brand being highlighted in one of the big sportsbook’s reporting in their webcast, so it is really a testament to the quality of the brands we own.”

Best quote

CFO Flemming Pedersen on the possibility of more M&A activity at Better Collective:

“Right now there’s a mismatch between public valuation and private price expectations, to be honest. So, until that gets into sync again, I think in general there will be more muted activity. It’s not the interest rates, as such. It’s more the public valuations – the multiples that we’re trading at are basically below the expectations of the targets we’re looking at.”

Current trading and outlook

January 2023 was a record breaking month for the affiliate, with revenue in excess of €37m, up more than 40% year-on-year.

Those figures were helped by the statewide launch of sports betting in Ohio, while the growth recorded came on top of a strong comparative period in January 2021, during which New York state launched its own legalised betting market.

The business has a revenue target of between €290m and €300m for the full year 2023, with EBITDA before special items between €90m and €100m, and a net debt to EBITDA before special items ratio of under 2x.

Following the end of the reporting period, Better Collective signed new media partnerships with football-focused online news portal Goal.com and Polish media business Wirtualna Polska.

It also signed a smaller asset deal for a sports media in an emerging market, for which the price was $4.3m including an upfront payment of $3m.

The firm said it will undertake one-off costs for investments in 2023 to help it establish a stronger presence in Latam and other emerging markets where regulation is in place or expected in the future.

Including an investment to be made in building a proprietary technology platform for display advertising, the initiatives are expected to add around €10m in additional costs in 2023.

Kambi has reported all-time high full-year revenue after a strong Q4 2022 period driven by the World Cup and a busy US sporting calendar. 

Topline numbers

Q4 2022 revenue rose 66% year-on-year to €57.8m, including a €12.6m early termination fee from US operator Penn Entertainment, which is migrating away from Kambi this year and onto its own proprietary sportsbook platform.

EBITDA for the quarter increased by 104% to €27.3m as operating profit (EBIT) came in at €18.7m, up 164% on last year at an operating margin of 32.3%.

Excluding the early termination fee, Q4 revenue hit €45.2m, representing an increase of 30%, while operating profit actually decreased by 15.5% to €6m.

Kambi’s Operator Turnover Index, which illustrates the quarterly turnover of operator clients, soared by 20% year-on-year and by 43% sequentially, with a combined operator trading margin of 8.1%.

Kambi said the busy US sporting calendar was a key driver of growth after expansion into new states including Kansas, Maryland and New York when compared to Q4 2021.

On a full-year 2022 basis, revenue reached €166m amid a modest annual climb of 2%. This was an all-time high for the company.

The Stockholm-listed supplier reported annual declines in both EBITDA, down 20% to €63.4m, and operating profit, down 39% to €34.8m.

In geographic terms, the Americas contributed 55% of Kambi’s Q4 operator GGR as Europe provided 42%. The Rest of World region made up the remainder at 3%.

News nugget

The 2022 World Cup final, which saw Lionel Messi’s Argentina emerge victorious, set a new turnover record for a single match.

The winter tournament played a major role in football recording year-on-year turnover growth despite a reduced number of domestic fixtures in November and December.

Nine of Kambi’s top 10 sports events by turnover in Q4 were World Cup fixtures.

Kambi CEO Kristian Nylén said player engagement was excellent throughout the competition, which also helped to showcase the supplier’s new third-gen algorithmic trading capability.

“This new method of trading automation has been in development for a few years, with the World Cup providing us with the perfect opportunity to stress-test it at scale and we couldn’t have been happier with its performance,” said Nylén.

“Powering our entire pre-match offering, this proprietary capability leverages the full power of data to deliver an even greater product, with more betting opportunities presented to the player in a quick and cost-efficient way,” he added.

Since the tournament, Kambi has fully automated its pre-match pricing to deliver a World Cup standard product across many domestic leagues, while the additional automation of in-play pricing could follow later this year.

Best quote

Kambi highlighted the pricing of its BetBuilder product in the earnings call, which will be wheeled out as a separate product as part of its ongoing modularisation strategy.

In the Super Bowl BetBuilder example above, Kambi partners offered better value via the supplier’s BetBuilder technology than leading US operators using different or proprietary software.

ABG Sundal analyst Oscar Rönnkvist asked how Kambi was planning to make the US sports bettor aware of its supposedly superior pricing. Nylén said the below in response:

“We will really push operators to be aware of how good a pricing they have. We may not have done a great job so far on it, but you can be sure that is top of mind for us. This will become more and more evident when cash out becomes more of a given for BetBuilders.”

Best question

The best question also came from ABG Sundal’s Rönnkvist. He asked what impact Kambi had felt from Mattress Mack’s $75m win on the Astros to win the World Series.

The US store owner placed massive bets with six US sportsbooks, including two Kambi clients in Kindred Group (Unibet) and Penn Entertainment (Barstool Sportsbook).

Kindred paid out £4.4m on the winning wager, while Penn lost $10m.

The answer did not match the question on this occasion: “I don’t want to go into exact details but we took two bets,” said Nylén. “There is some impact on us during the quarter yes.”

Current trading and outlook

After the reporting period, Kambi expanded its footprint in North America via day one market launches in both Massachusetts and Ohio. It also extended its partnership with US operator Rush Street Interactive.

Kambi provided long-term financial targets at a Capital Markets Day event in January, which it hopes to achieve by 2027. The supplier is aiming for 2-3x 2022 revenue of between €330m and €500m, as well as operating profit in excess of €150m.

Kambi expects its global total addressable market (TAM) to hit €50bn by 2027.

“Thanks all Betssonites for the hard work that you put in in 2022. You are the best and we are the best,” said a triumphant Pontus Lindwall at the end of Betsson’s Q4 2022 earnings call, which saw another set of records broken. 

Topline numbers

Q4 revenue increased by 40% year-on-year to €220.6m as a result of a 27% uptick in casino revenue and a 76% upturn in sportsbook revenue thanks to the World Cup.

For the same period, EBITDA reached €51.1m, up 68%, on an EBITDA margin of 23.2%. Q4 active customers rose by 23% to 1,424,794.

It was a record full-year performance for Betsson. In 2022, group revenue hit €777.2m amid an annual rise of 18%. Full-year EBITDA came in at €172.4m following a 12% increase. Casino revenue climbed 8% to €514.7m as sportsbook revenue rose 46% to €250.6m.

News nugget

The news angle is arguably the firm’s full-year performance. CEO Pontus Lindwall described it as the “best ever” year for Betsson due to strong growth and profitability, which is no mean feat in the current operating environment.

According to his comments, this was achieved via “disciplined capital allocation, geographical diversification and investments in new markets, as well as the continuous strengthening of the tech platform and product offering”.

Whereas some operators bemoaned the World Cup for disrupting an ordinarily packed fixture list, the winter tournament was a major success for Betsson, primarily because of its exposure in Latam, where football is massive and the national sport in most markets.

Indeed, Latam recorded “new highs on most key parameters” according to the Q4 report.

Best question

Lindwall and CFO Martin Öhman fielded very few questions from analysts this morning. In conversation with iGaming NEXT, Lindwall said: “Normally you can always find something on the balance sheet to ask what happened here or what happened there, but this time there was nothing really to pick on. The number of questions went down dramatically,” he joked.

Even so, the best question came from ABG analyst Oscar Rönnkvist. He asked if Betsson had gained market share in Norway after Kindred tweaked its customer offering under threat from the regulator and subsequently suffered a revenue decline from the country.

Lindwall was tight-lipped, however. He said: “We have made changes to our offering as well and we are in a dialogue with the Norwegian authorities.”

Best quote

“You can see from our sportsbook margin (7.3%) that it wasn’t that strong actually and was a little bit below our average margin (7.7%). But the activity was really good, and I think that boils down to execution.”

This was Lindwall’s response when asked what Betsson had got right during the World Cup that other operators may have got wrong. The firm invested heavily in marketing both before and during the tournament, culminating in €37m of marketing expenses, equal to 17% of total revenue.

Current trading and outlook

The average daily revenue in Q1 2023 up until 8 February was 34% higher than the average daily revenue of the full first quarter 2022. Betsson noted that during this period, the sportsbook margin was higher than the average margin over time.

The Stockholm-listed firm’s shares ticked 9% higher in early trading. The board of directors has proposed that €59.7m, equal to EUR 0.436 (0.367) per share, be distributed to shareholders through an automatic redemption programme.

The Q4 financial performance of UK operators is likely to be disappointing, at least according to tipster service City Bet Club (CBC). 

In a new analysis, CBC cited a “triple punch” of factors expected to have a significant impact on both turnover and earnings.

Those factors included a steep decline in World Cup turnover compared to Russia 2018, an overhaul of the sporting calendar to accommodate the 2022 winter tournament, and the introduction of increased affordability checks for UK punters.

CBC offers trading and betting insights and was established as a subscription service in 2022.

Co-founder David Brown said Q4 2022 brought with it the most pessimistic outlook for the UK betting sector he has seen in some 47 years in the industry.

Disappointing World Cup

According to CBC, the World Cup should have led to strong margin wins for operators due to unexpected results, making it one of the most beneficial tournaments for bookmakers in history.

However, the tipster service found that early losses for punters in the group stage, which continued throughout the tournament, greatly impacted overall turnover.

This was reflected in the January trading updates issued so far by major UK operators, CBC said.

CBC highlighted bet365’s 88% decrease in operating profit for the financial year as a strong indication that the UK is far from a growth market, although that reporting period was pre-World Cup and pre-Q4.

The unstable environment was supported by Kindred Group’s low sports margin in Q4 despite the “bookie-friendly” World Cup results a development described as unexpected.

Kindred issued a profit warning amid weaker-than-anticipated Q4 performance and announced cost-saving measures to enhance profitability.

Another major indicator that World Cup turnover fell short of expectations came in the form of 888/William Hill’s trading update; particularly in terms of like-for-like gross win performance compared to Russia 2018.

888 chose to highlight the metric of ‘Player User Days’, by comparing customer engagement performance of the delayed Euro 2020 with Qatar 2022, and CBC concluded the data does not bode well.

The operator reported that online player days at William Hill during the World Cup were up 22% when compared to Euro 2020.

However, the World Cup had 25% more matches and did not face competition from a heavy summer sporting schedule.

Therefore, the “like-for-like comparison” of only a 22% increase was deemed disappointing by CBC.

Reduced betting activity

Compounding the overall issue for UK-facing bookmakers further are enhanced affordability checks,  which are a major factor to consider in reduced betting activity for UK operators, according to CBC.

Brown commented: “While the World Cup may have seen record margins, word on the street is that turnover is significantly down compared to Russia 2018.”

“Traditionally a major football tournament and robust Christmas period, with a full programme of racing, would normally put the big brands in very positive territory.

“Currently – the silence says it all, and we’re yet to see comparisons of like-for-like turnover to the 2018 World Cup, which may infer all is not well,” he added.

Finally, Brown pointed to the uncertainty surrounding the UK government’s upcoming White Paper on gambling legislation, which is still to be published.

“This has the potential to add even more challenges to the operation of the UK betting market. It will no doubt be a key decider on how the industry proceeds from here,” he added.

It appears the UK government’s long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act will not be released until February 2023 at the earliest.

Polish bookmaker STS Group generated record NGR of €141.2m in 2022, according to preliminary financial results, an increase of 17.3% year-on-year.

Record breaking

The total amount staked by customers on STS’ operations throughout the year came to €996.6m, up 4.2% year-on-year.

According to the results, Q4 represented the firm’s best ever quarter, generating a record €42.6m in NGR. That revenue came off the back of €294.2m wagered by customers during the quarter, a year-on-year increase of 13.3%.

A recent update published by STS Group in November set out how the 2022 World Cup helped contribute to the results, with the operator hailing the tournament as the “perfect” customer acquisition event.

Indeed, the operator boasted 542,000 active customers in Q4, a significant 40.4% uptick year-on-year.

The number of new player registrations also more than doubled, from just 87,000 in Q4 2021 to 202,000 in the latest quarter. The number of first time depositors, meanwhile, grew from 60,000 to 154,000.

Alongside the update, STS president Mateusz Juroszek said: “In line with our earlier announcements, Q4 2022 turned out to be record breaking.

“The calendar of sports events and the World Cup held in Qatar contributed to high customer activity. Our offer attracted as many as 200,000 new players in the last three months of the year. During the World Cup alone, we had nearly half a million active customers.”

Home comforts

Looking to the year ahead, STS said it is planning several activities aimed at increasing profitability.

For example, the group will now focus on its domestic Polish market and phase out activities in both the UK and Estonia.

“Operating data for last year clearly show that the domestic market is in a growth phase, despite the extremely difficult macroeconomic environment,” Juroszek added.

“Therefore, we intend to use this potential as fully as possible and continue to strengthen our leading position in the country. For this purpose, since the beginning of this year, we have been focusing our activity exclusively on Poland.”

This sole focus is expected to positively affect the firm’s profitability and facilitate further EBITDA growth moving forward, Juroszek concluded.

The 2022 World Cup Final was the second-most popular game of the year for American sports bettors, behind what has been perennially the most-watched individual sporting event in the country.

The extra time match between Argentina and France drew 7.9m geolocation transactions, according to geolocation and cybersecurity firm GeoComply. This was significantly behind this year’s Super Bowl between the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams (23.5m), but ahead of all other events this year.

That includes 4.8m on the NCAA Men’s Basketball Final between North Carolina and Kansas, the cap on what is perenially the most-wagered upon tournament in the US. It was also ahead of the 5.1m transactions that took place during Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors.

Game 6 of the NHL Finals between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche saw 1.9m transactions.

“They say Americans don’t like soccer, but they certainly got a kick out of betting on the World Cup,” Sam Basile, GeoComply VP of Business Development for North American Gaming, said in a statement announcing the results. “GeoComply’s data disproves the myth that Americans are not interested in The Beautiful Game.”

Super Bowl LVI also saw a year-high 3.1m American user accounts place sports betting transactions. The World Cup was second, with 1.7m accounts, followed by 1.1m for the March Madness championship, roughly 1m for the NBA Finals’ deciding game and 500,000 for the NHL finale.

World Cup bettors placed an average of just over four in-play bets per match, which GeoComply reported largely mirrors betting patterns for NFL and NBA games. This included spikes in activity around each goal, at the beginning of extra time and the penalty kick shootout.

The 2022 World Cup is the first with widespread availability for American sports bettors outside Nevada. Though the previous World Cup began after the May 2018 Supreme Court decision that struck down the federal wagering ban, there were few legal betting options outside the Silver State at the time.

GeoComply VP Sam Basile “GeoComply’s data disproves the myth that Americans are not interested in The Beautiful Game.”

For this year’s World Cup, more than 30 states had at least one legal online and/or retail sportsbook. It was also the first World Cup with commercial, single-game sports betting in Ontario, Canada’s most populated province.

The interest in World Cup betting comes as soccer has taken a greater foothold in the American sports psyche. A young American side that advanced out of the World Cup group stage, as well as the first tournament appearance by Canada since 1986, have further sparked North Americans’ interest in the sport.

That, combined with the continued expansion of legal betting options, has generated increased betting action on soccer.

The development of the US and Canadian national teams, along with the continued interest in perennial World Cup contender Mexico, could further build momentum for the sport in the continent ahead of the 2026 World Cup, when the three North American countries will share hosting duties.

By 2026, California, Texas and Florida could all have legal sports betting. Combined the states make up more than 25% of the current American population. All three states are also set to host at least one of the 16 cities for the 2026 World Cup.

In the coming years, more Canadian provinces including potentially British Colombia and Alberta could embrace commercial sports betting markets similar to Ontario’s. Mexico has also seen steady growth in legal betting options, including significant investment from BetRivers parent company Rush Street Interactive.

The UK Gambling Commission has apologised for tweeting a GIF of a child celebrating a goal as it sought to promote safer gambling during the World Cup.

The regulator has since deleted the tweet, although another tweet dated 25 November still shows a child celebrating a goal in the crowd at a football match.

The deleted tweet urged users to ensure they were gambling with UK-licensed operators if they wanted to place a bet during the World Cup.

However, the associated GIF pictured a young boy with England flag face paint, which several users pointed out was inappropriate.

Gambling is illegal under the age of 18 in the UK, while the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) also rules out any marketing with a particular appeal to young people and under 18s.

Many more matches are still to be played at the World Cup in the coming weeks. Options are available from betting companies to limit the amounts you can bet so you can gamble responsibly. For advice on how to do this, visit our website https://t.co/MUeSrwUK0t pic.twitter.com/60JxIufbSr

— Gambling Commission (@GamRegGB) November 25, 2022

“Throughout the World Cup we have been using social media to highlight how consumers can protect themselves when gambling online,” said the Commission in a statement.

“In error, one of those tweets featured a GIF of a child celebrating at a football game. We realise this was an oversight and undermined an important consumer protection message.

“We apologise to anyone who may have been offended by unintended association and have now deleted the tweet.”

In November, the UKGC said it would increase social media activity during the Qatar tournament to promote safer gambling and raise awareness of risks around gambling harm.

“We recognise that this is one of the world’s largest and most high-profile tournaments and is therefore likely to see an increase in betting activity,” said the UKGC as part of a declaration of gambling regulators including France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

“As regulators, we have a key role in ensuring that consumers are protected throughout the tournament.”