Legal Lounge: Revenue Misses

Ever since that historic day on May 14th, 2018 when the US Supreme Court struck down the 1992 law, PASPA, sports betting legalization has been a widespread conversation encompassing various states. Since that day 6 states (7 if you include the tribal group in New Mexico) have begun taking legal sports bets with all passing bills hoping to generate additional revenue for their respective states. Revenue projections were high as the data suggested a lot of sports betting was occurring offshore and they hoped many would indulge locally. 


Must see: Deciding A Book


While there have been some exceptions, most of the states that moved quickly to legalize sports betting are still waiting for the expected payoff. Rhode Island entered sports betting with projections to generate more than $1 million a month for its state budget. Actual figures have been closer to $50k per month since launch in November. Mississippi is looking at bringing in roughly half of its initial $5 million that was expected for the first year while Pennsylvania is also staring at roughly 50%. Thru a myriad of problems, West Virginia has only managed to bring in approximately 25% of the monthly tax revenue they expected. The logical question to ask is why?


Why So Low


A variety of reasons could be to blame for lower than expected revenue numbers. For some of the East Coast states, like Rhode Island, one of the biggest hits they took was the Patriots winning and covering the Super Bowl. They expected revenue of approximately $1 million a month and have actual results of around $50k per month. Some state reps are urging patience including Gov. Gina Raimondo who stated "We knew it was going to be very up and down. That is not at all a surprise".


Mobile Betting


Many states still lack a mobile presence or at least a very good one. States like Mississippi don't realize how much revenue they are actually losing by only accepting wagers in the actual property. A perfect example of this is New Jersey.  They operate a full Nevada type sportsbook including mobile and their revenue has generally met or come much closer to meeting expectations than the other states. The convenience of betting from your home when you and a few friends are getting ready to sit down and watch the team cannot be overstated.  I personally have done it numerous times using offshore sportsbooks and have been doing so for years. I even actually did it yesterday firing off a few last minute bets on my phone for The Masters. There are just times when getting out and going to a casino are not logistically possible. 


The Other Competitor


With American Gaming Association estimates of over $150 billion bet annually, with a majority bet with offshore sportsbooks, lawmakers expected a lot of that number would roll over to the new US states offering sports wagering. That just has not been the case. Offshore sportsbooks offer many things that US-based casinos just cannot offer. The question of mobile betting is not a question with offshore sportsbooks as it has been the standard for as long as I can remember. Sportsbook bonuses, odds shopping, and promotions are generally far and away the better option when looking at what is offered offshore versus a couple of drink tickets at the local casino. If you're a veteran punter, who has played with the shops offshore for quite some time, you're not going to be so easily ready to dump all the extras that come from wagering offshore just to get in the car and travel to a land-based casino.  Sometimes? Sure, its fun hanging around a book, but expecting to take in all or even most of that action was a mistake on the part of state reps. Staying with reputable names in the industry that we have played with for years is not going to be so easily swayed by waiting in line to bet full vig on a random Wednesday game. 


Also see: US Gambling Spread



Will It Improve?


Odds are yes, of course, it will improve.  As states expand their products and more begin to offer mobile accessibility they will continue to capture additional market revenue. Familiarity alone will also account for an increase. A lot of this may come from people that have never even used a book offshore in the past or only went to bet when in Vegas for party time. Give it time and maybe using the start of next football season will act as a better barometer than thinking they would open their doors and everyone who ever bet who flock to them instantly.