It will likely be months until US sports betting sees a month like February, as the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to a halt.
Reported handle hit $1.71 billion in February. That was down 4.3% from January, which isn’t out of the ordinary given the extra football games in January.
Those figures don’t include Arkansas, New Mexico or New York, which do not report handle.
Wrench in the works
This likely months-long suspension of sports will throw off the ramp-up period for US sports betting. We’re starting to see some big numbers in states outside of Nevada, but the industry is still far from maturity.
The loss of disposable income for millions in the US from layoffs and furloughs could also lead to less betting when sports return. That could, of course, be outweighed in the first few months by pent-up demand, especially if sports return in time for the NFL season.
*Delaware’s results are for the four weeks ending 2/23
**West Virginia’s results are for the four weeks ending 2/29
Online sports betting taking over
There’s no question Americans clearly prefer the ease of betting on their mobile devices.
Online sports betting handle was $1.21 billion in February, or 70.8% of total handle. States with open online sports betting that allows bettors to create an account from their phone or desktop got a higher share of handle from the online channel.
Pennsylvania had the highest online share in February at 89.2%. States with in-person registration – Iowa, Nevada and Rhode Island – all lagged behind.
More jurisdictions will be ready when sports return
Fourteen states took legal sports bets in February. That number rose to 17 in March, though the three newcomers barely had time to take bets before the sports world shut down.
Illinois, Michigan and Montana all launched the same week US sports began shutting down from the coronavirus.
Michigan was the most substantial launch with all three of the Detroit casinos opening their sportsbooks. Illinois was limited to Rivers Des Plaines and Argosy Casino in Alton while Montana installed kiosks at bars throughout the state.
They won’t be alone
No doubt those operations will essentially re-launch once sports return. And there will be brand-new jurisdictions ready to go as well.
Washington DC is ready to launch the lottery’s sports betting platform from Intralot but is now waiting for sports to return before launching. Two weeks ago, the lottery said a launch by the end of the month was still the plan. The DC Lottery announced its branding, GambetDC, last week.
And Colorado still plans to let operators go live May 1, the first day allowed by state law. That could change this month, Colorado Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman said. Regulators approved 32 more licenses last week.