Betting lounges vs. mobile betting in stadiums and arenas
Lights! Action! Betting! Lounges in arenas are set up get some action while watching the action.JC Gellidon / Unsplash

Betting lounges vs. mobile betting in stadiums and arenas

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas became ground zero for the NFL’s first foray with sportsbooks.

Following a 1992 Supreme Court ruling that banned sports wagering outside Nevada, few sports fans thought they’d see the day when online and in-person wagering became legal. The battle between sportsbooks and leagues like the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB endured for nearly three decades before the ruling was repealed in 2018.

Since then, established casinos and sportsbooks have leaped at developing their online and mobile sectors. However, as of 2020, the NFL became the first major league sport to allow in-person betting lounges inside their stadiums.

Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas became ground zero for the NFL’s first foray with sportsbooks. However, the partnership between oddsmakers and franchises isn’t quite what it seems. Though the promise of a betting lounge located within a stadium would suggest in-person betting, this isn’t always the case. The lounge exists, but it’s designed to cater to mobile betting options.

It’s likely that the U.S. mobile betting market will continue to surpass in-person options. With mobile, fans can access bets offered by leading experts and wager at their leisure—all from their smartphone. The lounges won’t have ticket counters or long lines. Instead, high-speed internet and charging stations will help power live bets as the game is played.

The Future of Mobile Betting

Despite the availability of in-person sportsbooks abroad, the U.S. may have missed the window for live sportsbooks to take off. Since 1949, Las Vegas has offered a wide variety of sportsbook experiences for those visiting the strip. However, these locations are often packed into a luxurious Las Vegas dream stay that involves gaming and wagering at every turn.

The long-term viability of sports betting seems to be focused on the online and mobile sectors. Around the world, entertainment and service industries are moving to virtual homes. Things like grocery shopping and paying a parking ticket can all be handled via a smartphone—so why not a parlay bet?

At the moment, casinos are opening their own sportsbooks wherever states have legalized and regulated sports betting. However, the trend isn’t likely to prove as lucrative as virtual sportsbooks. By 2021, as many as a dozen stadiums in the U.S.’s four major leagues (MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA) could house in-person betting lounges.

As aforementioned, the betting lounge is likely to remain a place for online wagering, while retail windows and counters will cater to the experience of wagering. In other words, the online sector is functional and mobile. The retail sector is part of an action-packed stadium trip.

Mobile betting allows for live betting features. Sports fans could wager on how fast the pitcher’s next throw will be at a baseball game, or how many more saves a goalie will make in a period in the NHL. Some stadiums are looking at partnerships with service providers like AT&T and Verizon in order to make live betting features seamless in a packed crowd.

Wrigley Field in Chicago.
Wrigley Field in Chicago.Heather Maguire / Unsplash

Retail Sportsbooks Also Open in Stadiums

The Capital One Arena, home to NBA and NHL franchises in Washington DC, became the first stadium to open a sportsbook inside its walls. While Allegiant Stadium features an in-person betting lounge, Capital One Arena is officially partnered with one sportsbook which takes bets from a ticket counter.

Despite the hype around mobile betting, the Capital One Arena’s partnership saw the sportsbooks take over 100,000 bets and bring in $12.2 million in handle in September alone. Aside from the revenue, the sportsbook is also expected to bring in more fans who are keen to wager live and in-person.

However, retail betting counters may remain the outlier. Each franchise will need to decide how to move forward and what makes sense for their team and stadium. Certain locations, like Wrigley Field in Chicago, are iconic enough to warrant a special retail-counter experience, while others, like FedExField, may need to bolster the fan experience with something like a retail sportsbook.

Regardless of how U.S. major league sports sway in reference to either mobile betting lounges or retail counters at stadiums, it seems sportsbooks are largely going the way of mobile options.

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