The COVID-19 pandemic hit many industries hard and they all had to find new ways to cope. With sports betting, the biggest hits came with the closures of betting shops. In return, this eventually led to cancellations of various events and tournaments.
Thankfully, the best online USA sportsbooks still permitted bettors to wager on their favorite sports.
It was clear that sports bettors want to bet no matter what was going on in the world. Even when in quarantine, sports betting can go on in many different ways. Besides, there’s always something to bet on at the best sportsbooks online.
In March of the pandemic year, March Madness was in full swing when the shutdown started. Shortly after, the powers had to cancel March Madness because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most sports, from the NBA to the NHL closed down. And yet, sports betting didn’t die in April. The revenue dropped from $607 million to $140 million in the previous month. However, things were still chugging along at a steady pace.
Sportsbooks came through, looking for sports that were still there. That included European table tennis leagues, Japanese baseballs, and soccer in countries like Belarus.
Those became the top trends in the toughest months and the revenue soon bounced back, reversing the downturn.
A Change of Paradigms
With all this, you’d expect that the focus on mobile sports betting would last a long time. Would the classic betting shop even come back? Or, would sports bettors just prefer betting from their phones from now on?
With the shutdown, mobile sports betting yielded around 90% of the revenue in states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The sportsbooks are now coming back slowly, but many people are still reluctant to travel. Experts point out that’s the start of a trend towards digital. Even classic sports bettors migrate to mobile sports betting. They start to realize that there are many upsides.
They don’t have to dress up and drive somewhere to place a bet. Instead, they can do that more conveniently and even when they don’t have much time. Over a couple of years, that could spell the end for many retail providers.
At the same time, there is some silver lining. Offline outperforms online only a few places in the United States like Penn National Gaming’s Hollywood Casino Lawrenceburg. It’s probably down to the social situation there, but it’s a nice exception anyway.
After the pandemic slowed down and big US leagues started to reopen, the revenues surged ahead. In September, there were earnings of $2.5 billion. It’s important to note, that sports betting is a low-margin industry.
Fancy sportsbooks like DraftKings are also spending lots of money on marketing and promotions, which puts their margins even lower.
In Pennsylvania, there was the case of a new sportsbook actually losing about $3 million due to over-spending on marketing.
US Sportsbook Powerhouses
The two main players on the US market are clearly DraftKings and FanDuel. They were on the market quickly after the legalization and they’ve built up their betting communities.
That means they don’t have to spend a lot of money acquiring new bettors. Some even dub them as monopolies.
The Federal Trade Commission said that a merger is impossible precisely for that reason. As such, it makes newcomers like BetMGM wonder what they can do to overcome this hold.
Sportsbooks are trying to bank on various innovations and aim to improve the general user experience. That means having a tidy interface for sports betting and mobile sports betting apps, for example.
Finding such niches and small improvements could help new competitors to emerge. And, to snag a share that DraftKings and FanDuel currently have over multiple US states.