A new PayNearMe survey has identified what may be the most neglected sportsbook customer service issue: bad experiences with deposits and withdrawals.
The survey found that one in six bettors who have a deposit declined leave the app and never return. Also, about 40% of surveyed bettors reported waiting a day or more to receive their winnings. Bettors rated the withdrawal process 10% less positively than the deposit process. That probably doesn’t surprise bettors.
Sportsbook customers are quick to vent their frustrations online when they have payment issues.
The American sports betting industry truly needs better regulations to protect bettors. There’s little things that irritate me like how sportsbooks slow pay you on large withdrawals hoping that you hit the cancel withdraw button and lose it back.
— Raheem Palmer (@iamrahstradamus) June 23, 2021
It’s more surprising that sportsbooks haven’t done more to address payment difficulties. They are losing customers because of deposit and withdrawal issues, even after offering expensive welcome bonuses.
Much of the dissatisfaction is among casual bettors. PayNearMe’s survey found that while 78% of frequent bettors rate the withdrawal process positively, only 58% of casual bettors do. That points to a failure of sportsbooks to set expectations for new bettors. The bright side is sportsbooks have a clearer idea of which bettors they need to focus on pleasing.
Legalization Improved Payouts
Although sportsbook deposits and withdrawals lack Amazon Prime’s fluency, sportsbook payments have come a long way since PASPA’s repeal. One of the intentions of legalization is to do away with sports bettors settling up through middlemen and anonymous payments.
“If you weren’t set up to settle via an agent (in unregulated offshore markets), then you had to move money through gift cards and mysterious wires to random people,” professional sports bettor Captain Jack Andrews said. “Regulated betting gave us banks finally willing to process online casino and sportsbook payments. Now I can move $50k from my bank account to an operator without having to do anything more than log into PayPal or confirm the ACH transfer.”
Although progress is undeniable, payment inconsistencies remain. Reddit is full of contradictory accounts of major banks allowing or prohibiting deposits and withdrawals. Debit and credit cards can be among the most convenient deposit and withdrawal methods. But they lack the cross-state reliability offered by modern e-commerce sites like Amazon.
These payment issues primarily affect casual pettors. Frequent bettors are used to the quirks and rhythms of sports betting. But some casual bettors are put off by the personal information and payment difficulties they may experience. The casual bettor’s bar for payouts is set by companies like Amazon, which offers seamless checkout processes.
Solutions to Payout Customer Service Issue
With fewer new launches to hide sportsbooks’ shortcomings, sportsbooks must satisfy casual bettors. While some challenges are out of a sportsbook’s control, there are a few ways to satisfy the most pressing mainstream bettor needs:
- More deposit and withdrawal options
- Faster deposits and withdrawals
- Better information about privacy considerations
Increasing Deposit and Withdrawal Options
Gambling laws designed to disrupt offshore gambling also affect available deposit and withdrawal methods. Many major banks still don’t allow gambling app transactions even when those apps are legal in parts of the United States. Their policies prohibit them from processing deposits to offshore gambling sites, and those same policies often block deposits into DraftKings or FanDuel.
In contrast, PayPal is such a popular deposit and withdrawal method partly because it’s willing to process gambling transactions. The same is true of Venmo. However, offering more deposit and withdrawal methods isn’t just about having more choices.
“Choice from the perspective of [payment] tenders that people use in their everyday lives [is what’s important],” PayNearMe Vice President of iGaming and Sports Betting Leighton Webb said. “It’s not just adding and adding and adding. It’s making sure that [sportsbooks are] adding tenders that are popular in the general way that people transact and are comfortable with.”
For example, 63% of PayNearMe survey respondents listed Cash App as their most desired deposit method. Only PayPal, debit and credit cards, and online banking were more popular. The difference is that PayPal is widely available across sportsbook brands. Cash App isn’t.
Companies like PayNearMe develop relationships with companies like Cash App so sportsbooks can use them for deposits and payouts. But sportsbooks also have to pay attention to what their customers are asking for. They should also develop relationships with the payment vendors that customers use outside of gambling.
“It’s almost like you want to be tender agnostic,” Webb said. “Let them [customers] tell you what they want to use.”
Speeding Deposits and Withdrawals Up
Sportsbooks face unique regulatory challenges that impact which deposit and withdrawal methods are available and how long they take. For example, online gambling companies must comply with strict know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering laws (AML).
To comply with these laws and ensure that bettors on state self-exclusion lists are not making deposits or that money doesn’t go to money launderers or terrorists, many sportsbooks manually approve transactions. Given the volume of sports bettors, this results in delays that can last a week or two.
PayNearMe’s payment platform offers a partial solution. It allows sportsbooks to automate certain deposits and withdrawals. Common automated payments include amounts under $100 or automatic withdrawals for known VIPs. Sportsbooks can also offer instant withdrawals through PayPal or Venmo instead of using ACH, which takes longer.
Even simplifying the steps to go through a deposit or withdrawal can improve customer satisfaction.
“It needs to be pixel perfect,” Webb said. “Any little area you shed from the flow, meaning an extra screen, something that’s not clear, a declined payment, that’s where users will drop out.”
Developing relationships with payment vendors can take time. Vendors outside the gambling industry also have to feel comfortable enough with the online gambling industry to agree to a partnership. But while sportsbooks invest in those relationships, they can smooth out the payment processes on their apps.
Improving Information Privacy Trust
One of the greatest differences between frequent and casual bettors has to do with information privacy concerns. About 33% of frequent bettors listed deposits taking too long as their biggest pain point. But 28% of casual bettors listed having to share their personal information with a sportsbook as a pain point, and 26% reported they would leave a betting app over it.
Sportsbooks have to ask for personal information. Social Security Numbers confirm identities and ages. Approved deposit and withdrawal methods preventing criminals from money laundering or funding criminal activities.
However, casual bettors don’t necessarily know the reasons they’re asked for such personal details. They certainly don’t trust that information to remain safe. Major data breaches like those at Target, Equifax, and other supposedly secure companies have damaged consumer trust in any company’s ability to protect a customer’s data. That’s one of the reasons online wallets like PayPal are in such high demand.
“It’s one thing [for a hacker] to have access to my PayPal account and get $20 versus having my online bank account if that were breached,” Webb said.
Offering deposits and withdrawal options that customers know and use can help bridge this trust gap. Bettors may not know what ACH is, but they know things like PayPal, Venmo, or Chase Bank. They may assume that if these major brands work with a company, then that company is safe to trust.
Solving Sportsbook Customer Service Issue
Sports betting payments aren’t seamless like Amazon Prime, because sports betting is subject to laws that e-commerce sites aren’t. They have to meet strict KYC and AML standards to avoid aiding organized crime or terrorist operations.
However, some of these laws are outdated and unfairly target legal sportsbooks. Bank policies that prevented offshore gambling deposits now prevent legal sportsbook deposits. Preventing gambling funds from crossing state lines makes it more difficult for betting exchanges to operate.
While reform is needed, sportsbooks can still make important improvements. In addition to the recommendations above, sportsbooks can better communicate to new bettors what they should expect from signups and withdrawals.
For example, a bettor’s first sportsbook withdrawal could be accompanied with a message saying how long they should expect to wait for their withdrawal to be approved. Then, bettors could receive a small number of site credits to use in the meantime. This could set withdrawal expectations for new bettors and divert bettor attention back to lines instead of the withdrawal wait time.
These free site credits could be split from the site credits some books award for creating accounts. $20 in site credits for signing up could become $10 for signing up and $10 for the first withdrawal.
As mainstream audiences embrace sports betting, sportsbooks must conform to expectations set by seamless apps in other industries. Customers already notice that deposits and withdrawals are their own separate steps in the sports betting process. Eliminating that awareness is key to solving this sportsbook customer service issue in the long run.
“They shouldn’t be thinking about that [deposits and withdrawals] as a separate part of the player experience,” PayNearMe Vice President of Marketing Anne Hay said. “The fact that they do [means] that there’s a disconnect there for an operator to get much better at providing that overall player experience.”