Mobile Betting Taking Off in the US

OAKLAND CA - MARCH 11: Magic vs. Warriors: Golden State Warriors Player tries to shoot a lay-up while Orlando Magic blocks the shoot at Oracle Arena taken March 11 2011 Oakland California.

OAKLAND CA – MARCH 11: Magic vs. Warriors: Golden State Warriors Player tries to shoot a lay-up while Orlando Magic blocks the shoot at Oracle Arena taken March 11 2011 Oakland California.

In the U.K., mobile betting has been around for a while. As early as 2011, one in five bets placed on the best online sports betting sites in the U.K. was placed from a smartphone. Worldwide, $13 billion in bets were placed on mobile devices that year. By 2017, it is estimated that the global mobile betting market will grow to $45 billion, and a good deal of that growth will take place in the U.S.

Mobile sports betting is legal in Nevada. Anyone using a smartphone in Nevada’s borders can place a wager on a sports game at any time of the day or night. New Jersey approved mobile betting for on-track horse races in January and, along with Illinois, is working to legalize mobile sports betting.

The industry could be a great way for state governments to beef up their coffers. Nevada’s government, for instance, got a piece of the $200 million that people wagered in the state on March Madness. However, many sports organizations are wary about online betting. The NCAA, NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB have filed suit against New Jersey, with the backing of the Justice Department, to deter its sports betting agenda.

How Private and Public Sector Entities Could Benefit From Mobile Betting

William Hill, PLC, is one of the U.K.’s most prominent sports betting names. The company had three online gambling licenses in the U.S. before acquiring a sports betting license in Nevada on June 3. In exchange, William Hill promised to invest $55 billion in the project.

According to a statement from William Hill, CEO Ralph Topping said that in 2011 the company earned $1.5 million per week from mobile sports betting. That number has since increased to $25 million per week. William Hill earned $1.7 billion last year, and 28 percent of that revenue came from online gambling. If the U.S. legalized mobile sports betting, then companies like William Hill could be in line for a huge windfall.

State governments could also win big from mobile betting. In 2010, Intuit estimated that state governments earned about $100 billion each year from gambling revenue in their states. In addition, gambling creates jobs. However, traditional casino jobs tend to require high school education with some college-level education required for management and marketing positions.

Mobile betting and its associated software development requirements, on the other hand, bring in more lucrative jobs. The industry requires mathematicians, programmers, engineers and anti-fraud security experts. Apps require geo-location technology, identity verification and functionality across multiple mobile operating systems. Lucrative jobs mean more income tax revenue for state governments.

The technology developed for mobile betting could even spur innovations in other industries. Regulations for mobile betting could be harbingers for regulations in other industries, such as banking or workforce management. If businesses operate across state lines because sports betting licenses have reciprocity between states, then businesses would have to develop technology that allows businesses to operate and pay taxes in multiple jurisdictions.

Will Mobile Betting Change Sports Forever?

The NCAA and its fellow plaintiffs in the New Jersey lawsuit argue that expanding sports betting in the U.S. would provide an opportunity for financially challenged athletes, especially student athletes, to fix games. The NCAA also argues that even “harmless” March Madness office pools provide an entry point for youth gambling.

On the other hand, people who support mobile betting argue that people are going to bet anyway, and some of the revenue should stay in their home states. According to A.G. Burnett of the Nevada State Gaming Control Board, legal betting hasn’t caused game-fixing scandals for University of Nevada, Las Vegas or other Nevada universities because regulators are experienced at monitoring both sides of the counter. The best thing sports leagues can do, he argues, is to let sports gambling expand — as long as expansion happens in a legal and regulated way.

According to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, 51 percent of registered voters in the U.S. favor expanded legalization of sports betting. As smartphones proliferate, so will mobile betting and it’s an industry that could spawn both revenue and job growth.


About the Author: Cassie Elliot covers the gambling industry. Her work has appeared in public policy journals, healthcare journals and trade magazines devoted to gambling and sports betting. She suggests if you’re new to the world of online sports betting, to click here to get started.

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