Legal Sports Report

States Exploring Legal Sports Betting Should Scrap In-Person Registration

Scrap in-person registration

A number of states are rushing to pass sports betting legislation ahead of a possible US Supreme Court decision that would lift the current sports betting prohibition outside of Nevada.

Some states are carefully weighing their options.

But other states are executing a sloppy copy-paste strategy. When it comes to sports betting in the United States, there is only one model for states to follow: Nevada.

As GamblingCompliance‘s Chris Krafcik noted in his tweet, one of the Nevada policies that states are contemplating is in-person registration for online and mobile sports betting accounts.

That would be a big mistake.

It’s hard to tell what’s working in a monopoly

If you want to place a legal sports bet in the US, you need to go to Nevada. As such, it’s hard to know if the state’s sports betting model is ideal, good or bad. It might be that it works well because customers don’t have any other viable options.

Presently, a Nevadan can’t say, “If I drive across the California border I can register a sports betting account on my phone and place my bets.”

On the other hand, if the Supreme Court strikes down PASPA and sports betting is available in multiple states, that will be an option. The states that offer online registration would boast a big edge over states that require in-person registration.

For example, it would make sense for Rhode Islanders living in Woonsocket to drive two minutes across the border into Bellingham, Massachusetts, and register an online account with MGM Springfield rather than driving 20 minutes to Twin River, parking, and heading to the sportsbook to register an online account.

Requiring in-person registration for online accounts could send residents across the border to place their legal sports bets.

And that’s not to mention there is no such requirement to sign up for offshore sportsbooks operating in the US illegally.

What’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander

Beyond the monopoly aspect, borrowing from Nevada is a dangerous game. After all, Nevada is perhaps the most specific gaming market in the world:

  • Most of Nevada’s casinos are congregated in small geographical area.
  • 75 percent of Nevada’s population lives in a single county, Clark County.

Both these factors should concern other states.

Casinos are bunched up tighter than Concord grapes in Nevada

With a few exceptions, Las Vegas casinos are located in tight geographical areas. That allows customers to casino-hop and register with multiple operators in a short amount of time.

A visitor staying at MGM Grand on the Las Vegas Strip could register a dozen sports betting accounts in just a few hours.

Now, imagine this same person visiting Pennsylvania or New York. They’re at the mercy of the property at which they’re staying. The casino would know this too.

Outside Atlantic City, registering more than one or two accounts would require renting a car and hours spent traveling to and from casinos.

Local populations are spread out in other states

The situation is even worse for locals looking to shop around for the best price.

Someone in Philadelphia would be relatively close to a handful of casinos, but a Pittsburgh resident would be able to set up an account at Rivers Casino and then drive a half-hour to Meadows Casino and do the same. From there, it’s over an hour to Lady Luck Nemacolin and a good five hours to the state’s eastern casinos.

If a state mandates in-person registration, geography would determine your available sportsbook options.

Don’t copy Nevada here

For these reasons, trying to wholesale replicate the Nevada model would be a mistake for most states — particularly the in-person registration requirement.

In-person registration is being billed as a protection for land-based casinos, but what it really does is limit competition.

Steve Ruddock
- Steve has spent years covering the online gambling industry for a variety of publications, including Bluff Magazine and OnlinePokerReport.com. Follow Steve on Twitter - @SteveRuddock