Online sports betting has undergone drastic changes since it became legal over two decades ago. It matured from a niche industry for the tech-savvy in the early 2000s to the preferred option for most bettors globally.
With mobile betting fueling more popularity for the industry, it seems retrogressive that in-stadium is now a trending topic. In the US, over a dozen states are on course to legalize wagering within the confines of NFL football, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey stadiums. So, what’s the big deal with in-stadium betting?
It’s a Huge Success in the UK
Sports betting is legal in the UK. Naturally, that means most forms of wagering are permitted. That includes in-stadium betting—wagering on games through bookmakers located within a sports stadium.
In the UK, BD Sports Group is the biggest provider of in-stadium betting services. It regularly partners with famous bookie brands, including William hill, to offer matchday betting experiences.
It provides betting at 30 stadiums in the premier league and championship: Tottenham Hotspurs, Chelsea, Everton, Stoke City, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United.
How it Works
With BD Stadia, fans place wagers somewhere within their home or away side's stadium before a match begins. After the game, they can receive their profits online, in cash, or to a bank account they provided beforehand.
Besides sports betting, in-stadium experiences sometimes mean interacting with players and coaches to raise money for local charities. There are also promotions and giveaways sponsored by clubs or in-stadium bookmakers.
It’s In-Demand in the US
Two years following the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalize sports betting, over twenty states now provide bookie licenses. Some jurisdictions like New Jersey and Delaware, permit all forms of gambling.
That means you can join an online gambling site, bet on sports or play slots can card games legally in these states. In California and Nevada, though, only a few casino games and sports have been permitted.
Lately, many states are allowing bookmakers to provide betting services the UK style: through shops, online, and within stadiums. As a result, some of the country's biggest sports franchises are considering launching in-stadium wagering experiences.
Betting Lounges, No Gambling
In February, the NFL became the first league in the US to float the idea of betting lounges within team stadiums. But since not all states permit gambling, the league has a few suggestions.
• Provide betting lounges within stadiums
• Allow bookies to teach fans how to bet through apps
• Prohibit gambling
Not all stadiums will feature these lounges. The NFL will only allow booths in states where sports betting is legal. It might also let franchises in these jurisdictions to place banners and adverts from gambling sponsors.
“We’re allowing betting lounges,” NFL’s Chris Halpin told reporters in February. “Similar to daily Fantasy lounges today…there will be a betting setup, but we’re not going to have betting windows.”
The NFL also accepts casino sponsorships. Caesars Entertainment, for example, has been a vital betting partner of the league since 2009. However, it has never been allowed to promote its sportsbook, a move that could change soon.
MLS Welcomes the Idea Whole-heartedly
Major League Soccer is welcoming the idea of in-stadium betting entirely. According to Commissioner Don Garber, there's no reason not to introduce the concept to the league.
"I go to a lot of games in England, and I have never really objected to the fact that somebody would come into the owner's box and take a bet on a game, recently told Forbes. "If people are going to do it, you might generate tax revenue for it and find ways that the league can use it as a marketing tool to have people engage more with our players and our clubs."
The MLS is befittingly set to profit from such an idea. Most US soccer fans bet on European football often. As such, they will probably embrace betting on local matches within a stadium pretty fast.
NBA and NHL also Interested
The National Basketball Association and the National Hockey League are also interested in hosting bookmakers within stadiums. Both the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals will let William Hill provide betting services at Capital One Arena.
The precise date when the Wizards and Capitals fans will be able to bet on games at their stadium isn't definite. But according to Joe Asher, CEO of William Hill in the US, that could be as soon as the upcoming season.
“I don’t really have a good feel for how long that might take,” Asher said last year. “You would bet on sometime in 2020. We’ll let the regulatory process play out.”
The NCAA, which organizes sports for collegiate athletes, is strongly opposed to in-stadium betting. But in all fairness, it seldom accepts anything related to betting at all. In fact, the association is suggesting closing betting lounges whenever college games are held.
Benefits of In-Stadium Betting
In the US, franchise owners are the people lobbying governments to permit in-stadium betting. According to the Buffalo News, the organization that owns the Buffalo Bills and the Sabres in the NHL are working tirelessly to fight for in-stadium gambling.
Why is that the case? In-stadium betting shops have the potential to attract new fans. What’s more, they can increase engagement and loyalty to a franchise. In other words, sports clubs support in-stadium experiences because of what they can do to increase fan bases.
Of course, sportsbooks also want a share of in-stadium money. After all, why would William Hill be renting out spaces within stadiums throughout the US?
In-Stadium wagering might not provide as much revenue as online sports betting. But it helps increase revenues. And since when has that ever been a bad thing?
The US has never been quick to promote online gambling. So, it’s not surprising states aren't grabbing the opportunity to make more money through taxes from in-stadium wagers. However, the few states that will support the new moneymaker will probably earn millions in the long haul.
In the UK, in-stadium bets draw millions of pounds every matchday. The US has much more potential, meaning tens of hundreds of millions could be wagered within major stadiums. When it comes to taxes, that would be excellent news for many states throughout the country.
Improved Fan Experience
There's no doubt that in-stadium betting would improve how fans view stadiums. Instead of just places to watch games, they could also have fun with friends as they wager on sports. Or they could sit at exclusive boxes where they can wager on games through their smartphones.
Either way, fan attendance would probably grow. However, that would only become possible if bookmakers began to offer higher quality odds and convenient payment options.
In-stadium betting is precisely what it sounds like. It’s betting within a stadium, from football and basketball to hockey and baseball. While legal in the UK, in-stadium wagering isn’t allowed in the US, at least for now.
Many stadiums don't allow sports betting anyway. However, that's about to change as more jurisdictions move toward permitting gambling. With time, they will also warm up to the idea of in-stadium betting, primarily if it's organized professionally and regulated accordingly.