As legalized sports betting expands across the US, many states allow players to create accounts on a mobile device without needing to set foot in a brick-and-mortar sportsbook. This is convenient for players that do not live near casinos or do not want to deal with the hassle.
Nevada never allowed registration on mobile devices for sports apps. A visit to a sportsbook is part of the process for creating a mobile betting account. It is time to drop this requirement.
COVID-19 should be last straw
Last week, three sports betting companies set up outside casinos. Circa, South Point and William Hill created drive-thru lines for bettors that wanted to make deposits and create accounts for UFC 249. William Hill setup five separate locations for this.
Nevada law required sportsbooks to offer this service due to a regulation that has not made sense in several years. The technology and security exist for remote account creation.
In-person registration costs Nevada sportsbooks action during major events
It is easy to see how this did not bring all potential Nevada bettors into the legal sportsbooks for action. Offshore books do not require any sort of vetting process for players. Bitcoin knowledge is enough to setup and fund an account without needing to go out in the heat and have contact with other people, potentially spreading COVID-19 between employees and customers.
Whether it is March Madness, Super Bowl Sunday, or a big fight weekend, lines can be out the door to make bets at Las Vegas sportsbooks during major events. Easy access to mobile betting and funding would bypass this and get more money into action, generating taxes that are otherwise lost.
Nevada online poker permitted to use remote registration since 2013
Nevada online poker rooms have been permitted to allow users to create an account online since the launch of the product in 2013. Ultimate Poker, Real Gaming and WSOP.com all used this feature with absolute success. There have been no reports of fraud with account creation in seven years. An identity check confirms the player and notes the location where the account was made. It then tracks the player any time there is play, ensuring that if a close relative or friend committed fraud, it would be easily detected and apprehended.
This refutes the excuse that in-person registration is needed for security purposes. If it is good for online poker, it is good for sports betting apps.
In-person registration stifles competition
One great aspect of sports betting in Nevada is the competition. There is a wide range of sportsbooks in terms of limits, quality and pricing. In-person registration makes it difficult for Nevadans and our guests to get the best experience. Bettors must go from one sportsbook to another creating accounts so that when the time comes to make a bet, it is open and ready.
This gives William Hill a major advantage in Nevada. Its sportsbooks are spread throughout the state. The company has close to a monopoly in the rural areas. Residents of Tonopah or Beatty are not driving to Las Vegas for the purpose of opening a mobile betting account. This action goes to William Hill, offshore, or does not get bet at all.
The same issue exists for tourists from Southern California. Primm is the first exit entering Nevada on Interstate 15. William Hill has a sports betting monopoly at this exit. Jean, the next exit on I-15, is also a William Hill monopoly market. St. Rose Parkway is the next exit with a casino. William Hill is the sportsbook there, too.
Southern Californians looking to open a mobile betting account must drive over 30 miles into Nevada to South Point before finding a competitor of William Hill. This is not the only example of Nevada border towns with a sportsbook monopoly that stifles competition.
In-person betting created to draw players to properties
While some in the industry will claim the in-person registration is a security measure, it seems like more of a way to draw bettors to a casino. The property may entice a player to sit at a slot machine or eat a meal while there. This generates extra revenues that would not have existed before, though I think its amount is trivial.
Allowing players to create an account remotely would put more customers into marketing databases, which could have a better effect than forcing a player to do something inconvenient and annoying to make a mobile bet.
Difficult to market Nevada sports betting products
Many other states have robust affiliate programs that market sports betting. This gets more eyes on the product through major portals that appeal to bettors. This is nearly impossible in Nevada since a player cannot make an account on a phone or computer and immediately get into action. It is difficult to track players that cannot complete the sign-up process remotely.
Remove this annoying requirement for sports bettors
There will be many changes to Nevada gaming due to what was learned during the COVID-19 shutdown. Hopefully, dropping the in-person mobile sports betting account registration is one.