Consumers Planning Sharp Reductions in Betting, Says Conference Board

Consumers are planning to dramatically reduce their expenditures on lotteries and other forms of wagering over the next six months, according to The Conference Board’s latest Consumer Confidence Survey.

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The Las Vegas Strip. The Conference Board says consumers will reduce spending on betting. (Image: Bloomberg)

Released earlier this week, the survey indicates consumer confidence ticked modestly higher this month, but 36.6% of those polled are expecting to spend less on betting and lotteries over the next six months, the biggest cut in 15 categories featured in the query.

The results reveal that consumers plan to spend less on highly discretionary categories such as playing the lottery, visiting amusement parks, going to the movies, personal lodging, and dining,” noted the Conference Board.

The commentary on dining and lodging spending jibes with other recent data suggesting leisure travelers are actively comparison shopping on lodging and cutting back on visits to high-end eateries.

Other Betting Tidbits in Conference Board Survey

The March reading of consumer confidence also revealed 53.3% of those surveyed will maintain current levels of betting spending in the coming six months while 10.1% will up such expenditures, the smallest increase across the 15 categories.

Part of the reason for the expected decline in spending on betting could be annual seasonal lethargy. The NFL season is over and March Madness ends next Monday, removing one of the most wagered-on sporting events from the calendar. That scenario is amplified when the NBA season concludes late in the second quarter.

With a third of respondents planning reduced spending on amusement parks and outdoor recreation, nearly the same amount expecting to do the same regarding live entertainment, movies, sporting events, and theater, and another 31.9% planning to pare personal hotel or motel expenditures, a case can be made that macroeconomic headwinds such as high inflation and rising interest rates are finally weighing on consumer discretionary spending.

Exactly how that impacts gaming remains to be seen, and it could take a while for those ill effects to materialize because management teams have sounded optimistic tones about the starts to 2023 their venues experienced.

Different Spending Priorities

Due in large part to the suddenly shifting definition of recession, such a scenario appears to have been averted. However, recent stress in the global banking system stoked economist calls for a hard landing. While the consumer confidence survey reveals respondents aren’t spooked by recent banking collapses, the data confirm they are reprioritizing their spending.

Consumers “say they will spend more on less discretionary categories such as health care, home or auto maintenance and repair, and economical entertainment options such as streaming. Spending on personal care, pet care, and financial services such as tax preparation is also likely to be maintained,” added the Conference Board.

Of those polled. 19.3% say current business conditions are bad, up from 17.4% in February. The short-term business conditions outlook is marginally better as 18.5% of those surveyed see conditions worsening in six months compared with 21.6% last month.

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