Bottom Line: Sports Betting Can't Live On-Site Alone



New Jersey handle and profit numbers show that the best path to profit for sports betting is online.

Pennsylvania’s February monthly figures prove it, without online betting it’s a losing game

Much Less than Breaking News: without the application of online wagering, making a profit for any U.S. state attempting to legalize sports betting is a hopeless venture.

Any person trying to dispute that well-known fact will have to first check the February 2019 monthly returns from both New Jersey and Pennsylvania sports wagering total handle and revenue receipts. Pennsylvania’s February sports betting revenue took a giant 25.4% slide from January, figures released Monday by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board showed. The state’s six operational sportsbooks generated revenue of only $1,946,816 last month, down from $2,607,205 in January. 

U.S. sports betting operations need to be 
onlineOK, let’s first blame it on the weather. February is not a beautiful time touring anywhere in Pennsylvania.  However, despite the arrival of sparkling new sportsbooks to visit, a drop of over 25% for any venture in only one month is troublesome. PA’s six betting facilities handled a total of $31,500,742 in wagers last month. The figure reported represented a moderate 1.6% decrease from January when the sportsbooks took in just over $32 million in wagers. But, keep in mind that February did include the Super Bowl, which is traditionally thought of in the sports wagering sector as a fertile opportunity. We must also recall that neither the Eagles nor Steelers played or covered. 

Yes, it’s too soon to rush to judgement, however one conclusion is undoubtedly clear. Pennsylvania can’t begin the option of offering online sports wagering quick enough to increase their bottom-line figures. It is anticipated the Keystone State will begin sometime in April. 

Geographically Desirable

As proven in neighboring New Jersey, geolocation for online wagering works. Many jealous New Yorkers suffer gas expense and bridge tolls to invade New Jersey geolocation territory, placing wagers within its legal fences. Although not nearly as common, it is possible that some Philadelphia-area residents take advantage of similar online convenience. Simply speaking, if you don’t need to travel or remain at a casino location, why bother. 

Although still in its relative infancy, numbers from New Jersey have shown that approximately 80% of sports wagering is conducted online with the graph expanding. Casino marketing has harmoniously featured opportunities for players to attend in-person social events including Sunday NFL games and the current NCAA March Madness Basketball Tournament. Like long-standing horse racing, there is a crowd that prefers to be "at the track", but a much bigger potential client base favors wagering within their own home, office or car. 

This proven culture process flies in the face of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his relentless plea to ban online wagering in the U.S. The core of his RAWA crusade (Restoration of America’s Wire Act) applies to upholding the Federal Wire Act of 1961, while promoting help for problem gambling. But really, it's a fierce financial worry that online gambling will destroy the will for people to visit his on-site casinos. Thus far there has been no statistical evidence reinforcing this notion. At least, the balance affecting incremental on-site wagering.

Bet on Tennessee

In a truly surprising and innovative move, the state of Tennessee has just proposed a bill for "mobile-only" sports wagering without the need for any fixed location for wagering within the state. State Rep. Rick Staples, a Democrat, said Tuesday in front of his colleagues that the legislation would now call for mobile sports wagering only, while language to establish brick-and-mortar betting locations would be removed from the bill. An earlier version was eyeing up to 50 locations statewide, in addition to mobile platforms.

A representative and potential future partner from FanDuel appeared before the Tennessee committee, telling policymakers about the success of mobile betting in the state of New Jersey and that the Garden State has several brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. But again, that 80% of the handle now comes via the Internet. An earlier version of the state’s bill would require in-person registration to establish a mobile sports betting account, however by virtue of scrapping a brick-and-mortar plan, it seems likely that that requirement would get shelved under these amendments.

The caveat here is Tennessee’s governor Bill Lee is a relative conservative Republican. Part of the plan is putting control within the state’s lottery division. At a 20% tax rate that would project approximately $30M extra in revenues for the state it is likely to gain his approval. All without the need to face the monumental fight to approve casino legislation. Overall, this could be a blueprint for other states to look at and adopt a similar sports wagering plan to break down hurdles.

What DOESN’T Happen in Vegas

Another factor that doesn’t show up on the spreadsheet is the psychological difference between sports wagering and casino gambling. For example, not many have truly planned a vacation trip to Las Vegas with the direct intention to mainly bet on sports. 

Though online sports betting has been legal for several years in Nevada, the convenience of offshore wagering has been part of our culture for almost twenty-five years. Bookmakers have been present for decades. It is illogical to think that any brick and mortar/onsite casino or U.S. state would suffer major losses without dedicated sports wagering facilities. Yes, they are a nice enhancement, but not a feature focal point.  Why not admit that times have changed and give-in? 

In fact, why not offer lucrative online incentives for sports bettors to wager in-person instead of the bathroom?  Scream at mega screen televisions over blown calls or celebrate back-door covers with new friends. 

Till marketing gurus provide serious reason for bettors to leave their homes in February on 18-degree days, it is very possible for Pennsylvania and other "non-destination" states to suffer awful months with sports betting WITHOUT necessary online wagering. 

Then next get to work on those $39 dinner buffets and tired Elvis and Beatles impersonator shows. 

Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, including previews and picks from Glenn, click here.


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