May 8, 2020 - Sports

The growth of mobile sports betting

Illustration of a group of phones with the hundred dollar bill on the screens

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Colorado became the 18th state to officially begin accepting legal sports wagers, including via online sportsbooks, at the start of May.

Why it matters: The convenience of mobile betting is the future, and with sports creeping back, Colorado can treat the next few months more or less like a beta test as it prepares for the wave of that will come when sports return in full.

The state of play: Since PASPA was repealed two years ago, states have steadily passed sports betting legislation. Some allow mobile betting, while others require bettors to place wagers in a physical casino.

  • Mobile betting: New Jersey's sports betting volume nearly matched Nevada's within its first year, largely thanks to a massive mobile footprint, which saw 86.5% of a record $562.7 million wagered in November 2019 coming from online bets, per Legal Sports Report.
  • No mobile betting: New Yorkers are so desperate for mobile betting that they're taking their phones across the river to New Jersey, costing New York millions in tax revenue. Multiple other states with sports betting, but no mobile option, fell way short of revenue projections last year.

The big picture: Developers like Boom Sports, who just inked a huge deal with Penn National Gaming to operate mobile sportsbooks in five states where online sports betting isn't even legal yet, believe that policy will eventually catch up with consumer behavior.

"When we started Boom Sports five years ago, we looked at the market, and less than 1% of all casino gaming revenue was generated online. It was still 99% generated in land-based casinos, and we just knew based on the world and where it was going, that was going to change in a big way."
— Stephen Murphy, CEO

The bottom line: Sports betting has long been associated with bookies and casinos, but those days are coming to an end. Now, sportsbooks' target customer is closer to your average sports fan — and the best way to reach the vast majority of them is through their phones.

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