Hundreds of thousands of tourists hit Las Vegas this past weekend for the kickoff of March Madness. Las Vegas offers an atmosphere that no other city can for the annual NCAA basketball tournament. This can be mostly attributed to the availability of legal sports betting.
Resorts spread massive viewing parties. Many of these private parties offered special betting windows. The rest of the visitors who opted to watch the games on the main casino floor or in bars were forced to use the standard sports book counters.
Lines of one hour or more in sports books were reported by some Las Vegas bettors. This could have been avoided with some future planning by players by creating a mobile account at a sports book that provides that service.
Most Las Vegas Strip casinos lack mobile sports books
Caesars and MGM Resorts, the two largest Las Vegas Strip operators, do not offer mobile betting.
This left guests at properties owned by both companies with no other option than to wait in lines at betting windows, taking away from time and potentially money spent using other resort amenities.
Of the 26 Las Vegas Strip casinos with sports books, only six offer mobile betting. None of the six Strip casinos that offer mobile sports betting at this time operate their sports book. William Hill operates two, while CG Technologies operates the other four. One of William Hill’s units will close on May 4 when Riviera shutters.
MGM plans to enter the business later in 2015. This could add as many as 10 sports books with mobile betting to the Strip.
Opening a mobile betting account is not convenient
Many bettors will find the process of creating an account at a mobile betting shop inconvenient. Experienced bettors are accustomed to walking up to a window and finishing business within a minute. Opening a mobile betting account can take 10 or 15 minutes, even with no line.
An application must be completed before creating an account. This includes submitting a Social Security number. Some providers offer an application online, but it must be printed and brought to a participating book.
The sports book manager will take the player’s ID. Some also require a photo to be taken at the betting window.
Unique issue affecting locals market
While the crowds do not affect the Las Vegas locals market in the same way it does the Strip, there are still convenience issues. There are few full service sports books in most residential areas. Most William Hill sports books in the locals market are in North Las Vegas or Henderson. None are in the western or southern portions of the Las Vegas Valley.
The only CG Technologies shops in the locals market are at Palms, Silverton, and M Resort. Station Casinos fills some of these gaps, but there are still no full service sports books in the southwest section of town, and the west and northwest have little coverage.
Kiosks once solved this issue, but were banned
William Hill acquired a collection of sports betting kiosks from American Wagering in 2012 when it entered the Nevada market. The Nevada Resorts Association convinced the state legislature to ban wagering and account creation on these devices. This went into effect in July 2013.
Locals could use these kiosks in dozens of PT’s Pubs and other smaller taverns that use the Golden Gaming route. William Hill found a loophole to convert these devices into deposit stations for mobile, but new players must find a full service book to create a mobile account.
The addition of MGM’s sports betting app will bring the percentage of sports books on the Strip with mobile betting over 50 percent. This should help reduce some of the wait times at next year’s March Madness betting parties.
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