The sports betting industry is gradually recovering from the impact of COVID-19 induced lockdowns. For several months in 2020, many online sportsbooks struggled to provide betting markets with most sports suspended or canceled.
They weren’t as affected as brick and mortar sportsbooks, though. According to H2 Gambling Capital, retail bookmakers recorded an average loss of 39% in 2020. Post lockdown, online bookies are performing even better, something that sheds light on what could become the future of sports betting in the US.
Online Betting is Closing the Gap
Because many American states permit land-based and not online betting, brick and mortar sportsbooks have always had an edge in revenues. From Florida and New Mexico to California and New York, you can bet at physical betting shops in many venues countrywide. But you can’t wager online.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Delaware, West Virginia and a few more states permit mobile betting. Still, they generate less than 20% of the country’s betting handle. Fortunately, the online betting sector is growing rapidly.
In New Jersey, 80% of the state’s $5 billion sports betting handle comes from mobile betting. In Pennsylvania, it’s close to half of the handle. According to Forbes, the sector is closing the gap, especially in the past one year—mobile betting generated 7% more revenue to hit 20% of the country’s entire mobile gambling income.
After the Supreme Court struck off PASPA and gave states the authority to legalize sports betting in 2018, many of them have made progressive steps. New Jersey, which sponsored the bill to eliminate PASPA, was one of the first jurisdictions to allow both land-based and online betting.
Delaware was actually the first state to legalize sports betting after the Supreme Court decision. Unfortunately, there are only three sportsbooks in the state and none of them have mobile betting apps. West Virginia joined the legislation race in August 2018, permitting both in-person and online wagering.
Pennsylvania legalized the industry later in November—both land-based and online betting. And like NJ, WV and DE, it also authorized online casinos, providing leeway for operators like Winny.com to offer slots and card games to their citizens. For clarity, though, an online casino needs a license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to operate in the Keystone State.
PA aside, other states that permit online sports betting are Rhode Island, Iowa, Oregon, Indiana, New Hampshire, Illinois, Michigan, DC, Tennessee and Colorado. Interestingly, some of these states only allow mobile and not in-person betting: Tennessee and New Hampshire are notable examples.
More Banking Choices and Better Limits
When states started authorizing sports betting in 2018, only a handful of payment methods embraced the industry. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, which work with hundreds of offshore casinos, partnered with American bookies almost immediately.
Unfortunately, many credit card companies and banks took time before they supported payments to betting platforms. Some payment methods still don’t work with gambling companies as of 2021. But this is bound to change with more e-wallets and credit card businesses joining the bandwagon.
That said, there are things banking choices must do to improve the experiences of American punters. One of them is lowering their fees. Because there are not many gambling banking choices in the US, some companies take advantage by introducing hefty fees. On the other hand, some payment methods have pretty low limits.
Increased competition will inevitably bring down payment fees and force e-wallets and credit cards to offer improved limits. Meanwhile, punters in the US have to take time to identify payment methods that offer, quick, low cost payments.
Mobile over Desktop Betting
There’s a reason why legislators and advocates use the words mobile and not desktop betting. Most Americans that wager online use their iPhones, iPads and android devices. Statistically, half of Internet users in 2019 used mobile devices. What’s more, the Average American spends at least three hours on their mobile devices every day.
So, why do punters choose mobile over desktop computers for betting? Let’s start with ease of access. If you’re like many people, you carry your iPhone wherever you go. That means it’s the easier device to access while in bed, at your friend’s house, on the subway or at work.
On the flip side, mobile devices are the equivalent of small computers. They can do most things your laptop does, often with equal efficiency. You can use your smartphone to live stream sports, find betting stats and wager on your favorite sports hassle-free.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong about betting on your home or office computer. In fact, it makes it easier to manage multiple tabs while researching on games to wager on or while comparing odds. That said, it’s not as convenient as mobile betting, which is why people are running towards the latter.
Cross platform betting in the US doesn’t just mean wagering on mobile and desktop devices. It also describes betting at land-based and online betting websites. In many states, sports betting operates under the control of brick and mortar casinos.
However, some of these casinos are also allowed to create betting apps. By merging the two types of betting, sportsbooks in the US can provide experiences that favor punters that love the social nature of physical betting and the convenience of online betting.
They can create lounges at the physical shops where punters can watch games live while looking at odds on giant screens. But at the same time, they could also allow their customers to bet through the Internet.
When the NFL, NBA, MLB and more leagues canceled games to help fight COVID-19 last year, bookies found love in electronic sports. For several weeks, reputable betting websites provided betting markets for all sorts of eSports, from FIFA and DOTA 2 to CS: GO and League of Legends.
Esports is a growing sport now worth $1 billion. It has 300M+ fans and a string of organized leagues in the US and around the world. In other words, it’s a sport like any other. And because it has a growing fan base, bookies will continue to provide betting markets for it.