UK sports betting preferences and habits: Cricket vs Rugby
November 3rd, 2023, Rishad Dsouza

UK sports betting preferences and habits: Cricket vs Rugby

With UK-based teams participating in the recently-concluded Rugby World Cup and the ongoing ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup, we turn our attention to consumers who bet on these sports in an examination of their preferences, amounts wagered and gambling motivations.

The first thing to note is that both sports (7% each) are among the most bet-on sports in the UK, even though they trail mainstays like football (47%) and horse racing (38%) quite substantially. Even so, rugby union and cricket are easily placed within the top 10 gambling sports in the UK.

Among gamblers who are active cricket followers, 21% bet on cricket. Among rugby-following UK gamblers, a similar portion say they bet on rugby (23%).

Zooming in on their betting habits, these consumers bet on many of the same sports. Football retains its top spot among both cricket bettors and rugby bettors, with about three-quarters of both groups having placed a bet on the sport (76% of cricket bettors vs 72% of rugby bettors). Just over half of them bet on horse racing (53% vs 52%). Moreover, they are equally likely to bet on each other’s sports – 32% of cricket bettors bet on rugby and 33% of rugby bettors bet on cricket.

These groups are also mostly similar in the kind of activities they bet on online. Naturally, sports betting is what these groups do most commonly, with 74% of cricket bettors and 72% of rugby bettors saying they’ve placed bets with an online sports bookmaker in the past month. Rugby bettors are slightly more likely to have played the lottery (37% vs 33%) and to have bought online scratch cards (15% vs 12%), but other betting activities have similar shares among both groups.

It is in betting frequency and spend that some differences start showing. Cricket bettors, of whom 76% place bets at least once a week, are more likely to wager over 100 pounds each month on sports bets (19%). About 15% of rugby bettors, of whom 67% say they bet at least once each week, wager over 100 pounds monthly. This higher wager amounts among cricket bettors extends to other forms of betting as well, with 36% of cricket bettors wagering over £100 each month on any form of betting compared to just 29% of rugby bettors.

This is a particularly curious finding given that rugby bettors are slightly likelier to be in the higher income bracket (30% vs 27% of cricket bettors). Conversely, this group has a slightly lower composition of lower income individuals (19% vs 22%). About two-fifth of both rugby (40%) and cricket (41%) bettors belong to the middle-income bracket. It is worth noting that both rugby and cricket have similar rates of following among consumers of various income levels.

Diving deeper into demographics, cricket bettors skew more heavily male (88%) compared to rugby bettors among whom women make up a relatively larger but still small share of 18%. Cricket bettors are more heavily urban concentrated (83%) compared to rugby bettors (76%).

But what motivates either group to place bets? Nearly identical shares of both groups say ‘odds’ play an important role when they are placing a bet (49% cricket bettors vs 50% rugby bettors). A general understanding of previous results or form also plays a role (39% vs 37%) for a similar share of both groups. But cricket bettors are significantly less likely to cite fun/enjoyment as one of their gambling motivations (37% vs 43%). Instead they are slightly more inclined towards factors such as promotions available (37% vs 34%) or the ability to use a particular method/strategy (17% vs 14%). The appeal of odds can also influence cricket bettors’ decision on the online betting companies they use (57% vs 53%). But the biggest factor when choosing betting companies among members of both groups is whether they find the apps/websites as being easy to use (57% vs 59%).

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