In the trail of states legalizing online sportsbooks, we see an expansion of US sports seeking to capitalize on the many opportunities presented. Many sports franchises have seen a chance to increase their fanbase and get more coverage in media and online. For those unfamiliar with online sports betting, it is an activity of placing bets with an online bookmaker for sports like baseball, Formula 1 and NASCAR.
For a long time, the activity was outlawed across the country, except for local brick-and-mortar betting shops in select states. In 2018, that changed when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that made the legalization of sports gambling a states’ rights issue. In the aftermath of that ruling, several states, like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, have legalized online sports betting and provided declining franchises like NASCAR an opportunity to increase its fanbase.
NASCAR versus Formula 1
Nascar (The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing), particularly the Indy 500, has a long way to go to match the fanbase of Formula 1. It used to be the case that NASCAR was America’s favorite motorsport, but those days are long gone. In 2022, NASCAR averaged over three million viewers per race, while Formula 1 averaged around 70 million viewers per race. Go back about ten years, and there was only a couple of million viewers discrepancy between them. At this point, it’s not even a debate whether or not Formula 1 is the top motorsport in the United States.
Leveraging Online Sports Betting To Grow
Despite being dwarfed by the Formula 1 circuit, NASCAR still has its place in motorsports. In recent years, more and more international-sanctioned series have shaped up abroad. There are even talks about hosting the Indy 500 outside the United States. However, increasing the popularity of stock car racing outside the US will only negatively impact NASCAR’s popularity. The organization’s main battlefield for racing fans is in the United States.
With the addition of legalized sports betting in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and many other states, NASCAR has teamed up with several sports betting operators. The goal is simple: grow the fan base. They have appointed Joe Solosky as their Director of Sports Betting, who recently shared that their efforts are paying off. Wagers on the Daytone 500 increased 73% year-on-year, total wagering on NASCAR has increased 51.5% for the same period, and they have grown their viewership numbers by 4% and an increase in live spectators of 11%. They recently doubled their efforts by signing a third official sportsbook tied to the NASCAR circuit in the United States. They have also partnered with a software company that will develop in-race micro-betting markets and predictive content for NASCAR fans nationwide.
But the road to 8-digit viewership is still far away. One aspect NASCAR always dealt with, what the movie Talladega Nights captured, is that NASCAR belongs to hillbilly rednecks. This is something that’s often used in a derogatory and unjustified way. This label makes it difficult for NASCAR to broaden their fanbase without discouraging dedicated fans who enjoy the current NASCAR atmosphere and brand. What’s evident is that Formula 1 is having a much easier time attracting fans. After all, it is the pinnacle of motorsports. The combination of skilful driving, fierce competition, and raw speed combines for a successful receipt with younger audiences. Outside the racing track, most drivers are celebrities who fit well into today’s social media landscape. Unfortunately, NASCAR doesn’t have that appeal, and they’re paying the price. The best bet NASCAR can make right now is continuing to push the online sports betting angle.
Click here to subscribe to our print edition!