Mobile Fueling Sports Betting Industry Through COVID-19 Pandemic

BettingGeneral News Mobile carrying sports betting through pandemic
Jan 29, 2021 04:01Tim Ronaldson

Thank goodness for the internet and mobile devices!

That's what a lot of sports betting operators are saying during the COVID-19 pandemic. Withphysical sportsbooks shuttered for much of the spring and summer -- and significant restrictions still in place -- mobile betting is fueling the sports betting industry.

"Mobile is where it's at," as Jay Kornegay, of the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas, told the Las Vegas Sun recently.

When professional sports returned over the summer, and collegiate sports joined them in the fall, states that had mobile betting legislation in place were still able to thrive. Those that didn't, like New York, were quick to reconsider their options, knowing they were leaving a lot of money on the table.

Majority of Bets Coming Online

Nevada was the leader in the sports betting industry in the United States. They were also the pioneer of mobile betting. They were the state that created the framework for mobile betting.

When mobile betting was created, people no longer had to travel to a physical sportsbook to place a bet. They simply had to log onto a computer or mobile device, navigate to a webpage or open a sportsbook app, and start betting. The only time they had to go to a land-based sportsbook was to open their account -- in Nevada at least.

Other more progressive states followed, once the ban on sports betting across the U.S. was lifted in 2018. New Jersey was the first. Their sports betting options rival that of Nevada, and the state has since become the leader in sports betting in America -- by the numbers.

While mobile betting was popular from the get-go, it took off dramatically because of the pandemic. Many physical sportsbooks remained closed even as professional sports returned. When they were allowed to re-open, most sportsbooks still had capacity restrictions in place.

That convinced more and more people to simply place sports wagers at home or on the road.

Before the pandemic, Kornegay said roughly 65% of all bets at the SuperBook were placed using a mobile device. While that's a truly impressive number, it has since jumped all the way up to more than 80% of all bets.

Across Nevada, mobile betting accounted for roughly 56% of all sports wagers in November, according to the Las Vegas Sun report. That number is expected to grow statewide, even as the restrictions on life ease once the pandemic wanes.

Still a Bright Outlook for Physical Sportsbooks

Despite the strong move toward mobile betting, Kornegay and other sports betting operators still see a bright future for physical sportsbooks.

While mobile betting can provide the same sports betting options as a brick-and-mortar sportsbook, it can't replicate the excitement as the physical sportsbook.

Mark McMillian, who serves as the chief financial officer of U.S. operations for William Hill, explained this to the Las Vegas Sun.

"The experience of betting in person, including the social experience, is just too great," he said. "I fully expect demand for Las Vegas to be off the charts once people feel safe. I think it's going to be mad here."

Weekends in the fall always see sportsbooks packed to capacity for NCAA and NFL football. When big events such as the Super Bowl and NCAA March Madness come, there's hardly ever an open seat -- or even section of floor to stand and watch a game from.

With that experience disappearing during the pandemic, it's likely that people have pent-up excitement to return to that experience. In addition, mobile has expanded the interest in sports betting in general. This means that even more people than ever before are likely to be interested in experiencing a brick-and-mortar sportsbook for themselves.

Sports betting operators are banking on that -- even as they continue to build out their mobile sports betting offerings.

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Tim Ronaldson
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Tim Ronaldson is a writer, blogger and marketer. He loves all things sports, especially covering the sports betting industry. He joined the AmericaGambles Team 2020 and is mainly responsible for columns and extensive reportage articles.
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