Will Nevada Finally Allow Sports Bettors To Sign Up Online?

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Nevada sports betting

The next meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) this month is expected to consider rule changes to counter the competition ($) from the spread of state-regulated sports betting.

One of the changes the NGC could make is to revoke the requirement under Regulation 22 that sports bettors must verify their accounts in-person.

The rules currently distinguish Nevada sports betting from online poker and horse racing by forbidding patrons from verifying their identity online.

This regulation against sports betting has not been too contentious until recently. The NGC saw versions of such proposals back in 2016, but decided not to adopt them.

However, the competition that Nevada sports betting is facing from other states, as well as the growth in mobile and online sports betting, now makes for a disadvantage for operators.

Casinos like in-person verification

The brick-and-mortar casinos which dominate the Nevada sports betting scene have a vested interest in getting online bettors to visit.

The online sports betting demographics contain market segments which the casinos have trouble attracting to their properties. In-person identity verification provides a route to accessing this demographic.

The practice does have its disadvantages though. The most obvious is that it creates a barrier to signing up for online sports betting, with some potential customers finding the requirement too onerous and opting instead to place their bets at unlicensed offshore sites.

Until now, the balance has rested with the casinos’ desire to get patrons through the doors, but that could be changing.

Mobile sports betting is increasingly important

There are no official figures for the proportion of sports betting conducted using mobile devices, but there is no doubt it is increasing.

Eilers & Krejcik Gaming estimates that mobile sports betting will make up more than half of Nevada’s total sports betting handle by 2020. If this happens, it would be remarkable.

The UK leads the way in mobile sports betting, with a reported 56 percent of all sports betting bets made using mobile devices.

In other European countries, the proportion is much lower, averaging roughly 25 percent among the most active sports betting nations.

The UK stands out partly because some key industry figures got into promoting sports betting very early. It is fair to say that Breon Corcoran made his name by creating the mobile sports betting business at Paddy Power in the mid-2000s.

He went on to become the CEO of a merged Paddy Power Betfair, standing down in January 2018.

His efforts and the responses of his UK competitors created an unusual market where mobile sports betting was much more popular than in other sports betting nations.

There seems to be no equivalent in Nevada to drive mobile sports betting, nor has there really been enough time to get mobile sports betting up to the UK levels.

When the big players get in the market attitudes change

Mobile sports betting only became legal in Nevada in 2010. William Hill, CG Technology and Station Casinos were the first three into the market, launching shortly after the regulations changed. The big players like Caesars and MGM Resorts only got into the business in the last few years.

MGM launched its playMGM mobile app in May 2017, while Caesars was even later to the party launching its Nevada mobile sports betting app in September 2017.

The NGC is likely to be getting different messages from the industry it regulates. The balance of advantage has changed for the casinos.

What they lose if the NGC no longer requires sports bettors to go in-person to casinos to verify accounts might be more than made up by the extra customers they gain from permitting online identity verification.

Gambling Compliance spoke to Boyd Gaming Chairman and CEO Keith Smith about the issue:

“To truly do it online you have to allow a customer to open an account in Reno and fund it with a credit card. That’s what happens in Europe.”