While our focus at Legitimate Casinos is – naturally – on legitimate casinos, the sports gambling industry crossover is growing more and more prevalent in the industry.
This is especially true in the brick-and-mortar casino market.
Before 2018, of course, it was the furthest thing from true, as no domestic casino operator or racino venue outside of Nevada could offer legal sports betting.
As such, the vast majority of US casinogoers weren’t actually able to bet sports while hitting the slots, blackjack tables, and so on.
However, after the US Supreme Court vacated the disingenuously named Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018, every state in the union was granted the ability to legalize sports betting should it – or, in some cases, its voting populace – choose to do so.
So far, a majority of states has indeed legalized some form of single-game sports betting. In most cases, these states already had retail casino gambling – or retail Class II-style casino-like gambling – on the books.
Additionally, of those 30 or so states to give sports betting the go-ahead, 20 states (plus Washington DC) already have mechanisms in place to support online sports betting from anywhere within their borders.
As of March 5, that number is now 21.
On Saturday, Arkansas became the 21st state to launch legal mobile sports betting.
While AR has had sports betting available in brick-and-mortar settings since July 2019 at the Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, mobile sports gambling took much longer to get off the ground.
Arkansas is hardly unique in this respect, as several states to date have approved in-person sports betting while neglecting the all-important online component.
Of course, if you live in a state that doesn’t have online sports betting, that’s basically a non-issue these days, as many of the most trusted online casinos also feature full international sportsbook portals – usually with thousands more daily lines, props, and parlays than you’ll find at any domestic venue (and usually with far better odds, particularly on locally or regionally popular teams).
That said, not all legit online casinos feature sportsbooks. In fact, most of them actually don’t. And that’s actually not likely to change.
This is one of the major ways that brick-and-mortar gambling trends are diverging from long-established offshore gambling trends.
In retail casinos throughout the US, you can bank on the fact that – sooner or later – all of these venues (or, at least, the vast majority of them) will have legal sports betting lounges on-site and/or mobile sports betting apps accessible statewide.
Sports betting is the biggest new-money draw in the gambling industry, and the main reason why states are legalizing the pastime at such a rapid pace is because casino bigwigs understand that sports wagering is the key to attracting newer, younger gambling demographics to the classic casino market.
Plus, sports betting is a low-risk, high-reward prospect for both bettors and gambling operators.
On the bettor side, sports gambling is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to participate in the betting lifestyle. For example, a pro-level sports bettor wins around 53-55% of their wagers. That’s all it takes to come out way on top over time.
Meanwhile, you’d have to be a historically awful bettor (or a diehard Dolphins fan) to lose 53-55% of your sports bets.
More than any other gambling market, sports betting tends to “break even” for casual players.
On the operator side, a truly excellent sportsbook that sets its lines in the most clever possible ways will clear only about 5-7% revenue based on total handle, with the rest of the money going back to players.
Compare this to slot returns, and you might think the rates are about the same. After all, most casinos have slot payouts in the neighborhood of 95-97% depending upon local gaming regulations. (This is actually also true for legit online slots at the most reputable international casino sites.)
However, slots don’t pay out around 45-55% per player like sports betting does.
With slot machines – both online and off – thousands of players put meaningful money in while only a handful of players get meaningful money out.
If you want to bet without breaking the bank, casino games aren’t the best option – sports betting is.
But because it’s so “easy” to win a sports bet, casino operators know that gamblers will be more prone to “let it ride” with that “found money.” A player might win a cool grand on some NFL action only to give half of it – or even all of it – back to the casino at the roulette tables or craps tables.
As such, when it comes to brick-and-mortar casinos in the United States, legal mobile sports betting – like that which finally rolled out in Arkansas this past weekend – is merely a taste of things to come.
The real future of retail gambling in America is not mobile online sports betting. It’s mobile online casino gambling.
Mobile sports betting is just the trial run to prove the revenue and tax potential of the model.