In an age of identity politics, it’s quite possible that we’re overlooking one of the most basic factors of all when it comes to determining those identities – age. The specific time in which we were born, and the wider generation we belong to, surely has a sizable effect on how we view the world.
Why shouldn’t this be true for sports wagering too? Our age impacts the way in which we approach so many other areas of our life. So why not our hobbies, like betting?
Let’s take a closer look at how four modern-day age groups might approach gambling nowadays.
A debate has been raging around sportsbook advertising for years now. Plastering the names of betting companies on football shirts, for example, is seen as something which might not only tempt problem gamblers, but young (theoretically more impressionable) people too.
The stats don’t bear this out. Fascinatingly, in fact, the age group that participated the least in gambling between 2017-2021 was 16 to 24 year olds. This may well be due to a lack of disposable income, but perhaps also implies that young people aren’t quite as susceptible to traditional advertising as they’re generally viewed to be.
Generally speaking, the millennial age group includes those born between the early 1980s and mid 1990s/early 2000s.
The upper end of that range is exactly when online betting was really taking off. It saw the rise of broadband internet, and the launching of online-focused brands like Bet365.
As such, this generation sat right on the cusp of the seismic change that swept the gambling industry. Millennials grew up while physical sportsbooks were still the dominant way to place bets, but were also just getting their smartphones and widespread WiFi as online betting really took off. It’s likely this will be the last generation to even consider in-person betting as their preferred method.
Sitting between boomers and millennials, Generation X generally refers to people born between the mid to late sixties, and the late seventies to early eighties.
If you were running an online sports betting company, this is the generation you would target; not Generation Z, as the anti-advertising campaigners might suspect. The members of Generation X are now into at least their forties, if not their sixties. They’re pretty far into their careers, but are still working and earning. In short, they have disposable income. It’s no coincidence, perhaps, that the likes of Ray Winstone and Clive Owen – both high-profile members of Generation X – are often used to front bookies’ marketing.
Generation X bettors might have grown up while physical sportsbooks were still the only option for gambling. The smartphone has been around long enough, however, that they’d obviously have no trouble whatsoever using betting apps.
Boomers are the post-World War Two generation. This demographic starts with those born in 1946, and extends to the mid 1960s.
This is the generation which has easily seen the biggest change in sports wagering. When they grew up, very few of the brands we know today would’ve been around (the likes of Ladbrokes and William Hill being rare exceptions). Brick-and-mortar sportsbooks were the only way to bet, unless you simply wanted to use an independent, one-man-band bookie instead.
As with Generation X, even if they didn’t grow up with phones, laptops, and so on, boomers have no problem at all using them now. Whether they do so to bet freely, however, is a topic up for debate. Many pensioners certainly have disposable money to spend, but boomers in particular grew up in a time of greater restraint and austerity, and may be less inclined to do so on gambling.
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