Do Sports Bettors Prefer Betting Online or at a Physical Sportsbook?

Despite glitzy new legalized sports palaces, home seems to have the decided betting advantage

Online sports betting is proving to be key, despite new sports books in many states

It would make for a livelier debate than the current Democratic U.S. Presidential slug-fests. While seeming a puzzling question, there must be some advantage, merit and reason for the number of new sports book palaces being built across America to accommodate the growing number of states legalizing sports betting. 

From major hubs like Philadelphia to smaller towns like Schenectady, NY, we're reading daily of rapid plans for nice locations where sports fans can find onsite places to wager. However, it's already been proven that over 80% of bettors opt to bet sports ONLINE as their preferred choice in top revenue state New Jersey. Yet the numbers haven't at all deterred construction and investment for betting "away".  So, what gives?

Great Appetizers

In of itself, investing capital to build an expensive facility to depend upon sports wagering is a very poor investment. The already proven unpredictable, narrow profit margins and thin ROI compared to other casino games, such as slots or table games, is not worthy. There is no "rake" compared to poker or dependable percentage on popular slot machines that are facing diminishing interest. 

However, sports wagering is something fresh with an entertainment and social value that the other casino options cannot match presently. An almost communal opportunity to bring people together to wager like horse racing, BUT with a much higher interest level. Also, sports betting brings in a younger demographic, with much more disposal income and wagering funds, that includes women!

Sports gambling For the player, the huge difference compared to horse racing in its heyday, the track took a pari-mutuel cut of anywhere from an average 15-20% cut on win, place and show wagering. A giant 18-30% slice on exotic bets. And sadly, the core on-track audience was and still isn’t aware of the massive tax.

Sports wagering operates on a much thinner, fair cushion of "vigorish" with an unpredictable outcome for a sportsbook to achieve equal share wagering. The opportunity for many new, inexperienced "traders" (bookmakers) to get beaten by the public is always omnipresent. Therefore, building multi-million-dollar new facilities to accommodate that very real risk for no ancillary benefit might seem questionable.

Build it and They Will Come. Eat, Gamble & Spend

It would seem the thinking here is divided into two schools of reasoning. One is very political, and one is economic. 

The political force is a divided topic with online gambling still a controversial subject. Huge and powerful voices, including Sheldon Adelson, leading his RAWA coalition (Restoration of America’s Wire Act), believe online wagering is a black and white violation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act. Also, there's a fear that online wagering dilutes land-based gaming revenue potential. The moral gray cloud according to Adelson has also focused upon online gaming being a much greater contributor to problem gambling for the U.S. Thus far, none of these claims have been substantiated. 

Evidence behind the early heavy-weighted predicted success of online wagering in New Jersey has not deterred construction to build many new U.S. sportsbooks - places to accommodate land-based sports wagering action and social gathering, mixing sports viewing with betting. With new casino membership and visitation somewhat stagnant, perhaps thought here is to build a new entertainment feature bringing patrons into the building. This may be especially important in new sports wagering markets like Illinois, New Hampshire, New York, etc. compared to more mature casino markets like a Las Vegas or Atlantic City.

Can we bet on it?

Destination Sportsbooks?

Up until the May 2018 reversal of PASPA and the legalization of sports betting in the U.S., the true noteworthy destination for the nation's fans to visit on vacation was The Superbook at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas.  Home venue of the famous NFL Superbook Handicapping Contest and some of the largest television screens mankind has created to view (and bet) sports. The expansive Superbook has held the title for several years.  A place to accommodate the largest parties and join your sports fanatic friends.

sports books in Vegas online bettingUntil now.  Enter Circa with flamboyant Vegas entrepreneur Derek Stevens leading the way in downtown Las Vegas.  Circa, outside of the Golden Gate Hotel on famous Fremont Street will be ready by December 2020, according to Stevens. Once complete, it will be the tallest tower north of the Vegas Strip and home to a new kind of state-of-the-art sportsbook.

Exact dimensions have not been finalized, but the centerpiece video screen at the sportsbook at Circa will be three stories high and will show a multitude of games in high definition form.  It will be similar to the mega scoreboard at the Atlanta Falcons new Mercedes Benz Stadium and should be something to behold.  

The Circa sportsbook will have three floors, stadium seating, an overhanging bar and a two-story production studio for the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN).  A Las Vegas-based media company that features legendary CBS broadcaster and now wagering executive Brent Musburger. It will also feature the longest outdoor bar on the Fremont Street Experience, and a parking garage designed for ride-sharing accommodating the new Uber-Lyft generation. Here’s hoping bettors won’t want to drown themselves after a potential bad beat as Circa will have a multi-tiered swimming pool as well.

All in all, the prototype for all other new sportsbooks across the U.S. to follow to help lure bettors out of their houses and away from their laptops and cell phones to wager.  Surely, another must-see for anybody’s Las Vegas trip, whether a serious gambler or just a casual sports fan. 

Do Sports Bettors Prefer to be Alone?

But, old habits may be difficult to break. It’s significant to note that online sports wagering has been available to all U.S. bettors for more than twenty years now. A click away remains the highly preferred choice with the several top online sportsbooks maintaining a historical, experience advantage. No matter how many new land-based bells and whistles are offered up, convenience may always be the odds-on favorite.

Also, throw-in the unbelievable amount of cable telecast and live streaming availability for any sport or game imaginable. Basically, any team (or person) you want to wager upon is under your thumb. Why fight the potential bad weather, traffic, cost of parking, fuel cost, etc. Unless you’re in a sociable mood, are you in it for the money or to just rant for the home team?  Or, uh-oh . . . root for the away team with the points. Just don't tell your buddies that with the tickets sitting live in your back pocket.    

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

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