Mobile sports betting and retail sportsbooks both offer benefits, increased handle By Howard Stutz, Executive Editor, CDC Gaming Reports January 7, 2020 at 6:44 pm Analysts have long credited mobile wagering with fueling Nevada’s sports betting market. Since 2010, the Silver State’s sportsbooks have seen an 81.5% increase in handle. The source for that analysis has, to this point, been largely anecdotal. Nevada gaming regulators have never tabulated how much sports bettors have wagered through a smartphone or a tablet PC, as compared to the money laid down at a casino sportsbook betting window. That could change next month. CDC Gaming Reports The Nevada Gaming Control Board hopes to provide “mobile versus retail” sports wagering totals beginning with January 2020’s revenue numbers, which will be released at the end of February. Gaming Control Board Senior Research Analyst Michael Lawton said other states, such as New Jersey, provide a break down, and, as additional states legalize sports betting, including mobile wagering, Nevada needs to show how much mobile has meant to the market. “Sports betting business has been growing here for years, and it’s been clear that mobile wagering and in-game wagering have played a huge part in that growth,” Lawton said. “It’s been part of our culture.” Mobile betting was first launched in Nevada in 2010. That year, Nevada sportsbooks collected $2.61 billion in total wagers. By 2018, that figure grew to $5 billion. With 11 months already on the books for 2019, it’s easy to predict that Nevada sports wagering – up 6.7% through November – will mark its 10th straight record-setting year. The question is how much of that growth can be attributed to mobile. Lawton said the Control Board estimated 48% of 2018’s sports wagers were made through a mobile device. New Jersey is the current case study for the success of mobile sports wagering. The state’s live sportsbooks are in Atlantic City casinos in the south and two racetracks in the north. In between is a population of almost 9 million without close access to a live sportsbook. And then there’s New York City. The state allowed sports betting to launch last July but only inside upstate New York casinos. As Christopher Palmeri of Bloomberg News discovered, many New Yorkers jump aboard trains and head over to New Jersey, where they are able to easily wager legally on mobile betting sites. New Jersey, which saw $4 billion in sports wagers in the first 11 months of 2019, reports that more than 80% of all the bets came online. FanDuel, which operates the sportsbook at New Jersey’s Meadowlands Sports Complex, said a quarter of its mobile sports customers reside in New York. Fourteen states now offer sports betting following the Supreme Court’s decision to toss out the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018. Nine of the states offer mobile. New Hampshire is mobile-only with DraftKings. Mississippi only allows mobile sports betting at a casino property. Four states planning to launch sports books operations this year will have a mobile component – Colorado, Montana, Michigan and Illinois. Tennessee will launch with mobile-only sports betting. While its clear mobile sports betting provides a significant handle, several states aren’t ready to embrace the idea. Maryland State Senator Chris West told Legal Sports Report’s Matthew Waters he wasn’t comfortable adding mobile sports betting to a bill he pre-filed last week to allow the state’s casinos and racetracks to offer sports betting. Online sports betting, he said, raises “all kinds of issues” and could lead to the measure failing. “We should walk before we run,” West said. In California, a coalition of 18 tribes has offered a sports betting referendum, but mobile wagering is not included in the ballot initiative, causing concern among some gaming industry observers. However, Jacob Mejia, vice president of public and external affairs for the Pechanga Tribe Development Corp., said voters “have very real concerns and opposition to mobile sports betting.” The issue is also divisive in the tribal community. Smaller tribes want to drive customers to their casinos, rather than allowing wagers to be placed via a mobile device anywhere in the state. Retail sports betting has improved both gaming and non-gaming revenue in several markets. Boyd Gaming CEO Keith Smith has said the IP in Biloxi, Mississippi shows a noticeable jump in all business areas during SEC football season and New Orleans Saints games. New Orleans Saints/Shutterstock In a research report on 2020 projections, Deutsche Bank gaming analyst Carlo Santarelli said sports betting helped increase gaming revenues in New Jersey (11.8%), Pennsylvania (1.5%) and Mississippi (4.9%) in the 12 months following their launches. Santarelli noted that New Jersey’s sizeable increase was “largely a function of the new supply, and the promotional activity associated” with sports betting. “Acknowledging the recent sports betting launches in Iowa and Indiana, and the likely launch in Illinois in 2020, we believe the empirical support of the thesis of sports books driving foot traffic and gross gaming revenue, is notable and encouraging,” Santarelli added. There are arguments to be made for both mobile and retail sports book expansion. Howard Stutz is the executive editor of CDC Gaming Reports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.