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COVID-19 Speeds Up Mobile Betting Takeover

The legal sports betting industry in the US has gone through some growing pains but one trend has remained constant, and has even been accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic – the strength and evolution of a strong mobile betting platform. States with mobile betting continue to reap the tax revenue rewards (although diminished greatly with the global shutdown of sports) and by all accounts should continue to lead nation when everything returns back to “normal”.

States like New York have fallen behind the pack of impressive monthly handles because of a resistance to the idea of betting apps and wagering from a personal electronic device. Others like neighbors New Jersey and Pennsylvania have thrived thanks to a mobile platform that has consistently been responsible for over 85% of the money they take in. The writing has been on the wall for quite some time in the US legal sports betting scene – embrace mobile or expect an underwhelming.

Oregon State Lottery CEO Barry Pack recently said: “I think the recovery from this pandemic is going to force a digital transformation in our industry, a whole lot quicker than we might normally have seen it come.”


The history of mobility

Along with the evolution of cell phones came the birth of online gambling. PCs and Macs have been tools in the past but it wasn’t until the mid-2000s and the emergence of the Blackberry that phones became all-encompassing devices. BlackBerry had its moment in the sun but quickly faded in favor of…

The iPhone became the dominant mobile device of choice when it debuted in 2007. Android devices like the Samsung Galaxy quickly followed and changed the way the world consumed information, kept in touch and enjoyed their favorite games. Revolutionary graphics and frequently updated ease-of-use platforms transformed every aspect of society and made top-notch gaming readily available anywhere, anytime.

A study conducted by Newzoo identified 3 million smartphone users in 2018 and predicted that 3.8 billion people around the world will be cellphone-dependent by 2021. That’s over half of the world’s population with another half of the world’s consumers yet to be smartphone owners. Newzoo also found that bettors will be spending $106.4 billion on gambling apps by 2021, up from the $92.1 they spent in 2018.


Reasons for further growth

We live in a world of convenience that centers around our phones. There isn’t much we don’t use our mobile devices for – from scheduling, to reminders to shopping to entertaining ourselves. Our phones are with us everywhere we go and betting providers are well-tuned in to that fact.

Operators are now targeting mobile players and dramatically increasing their focus on those who gamble from their phones. Mobile-only bonusses have become regular benefits put forth by sites and platforms are being built with the mobile customer in the forefront of their minds, from the types of games available to their graphics to the way customers navigate their sites.

States like Tennessee have even opted for a mobile-only legal sports betting platform that supports zero retail locations. Pennsylvania reported over 90% of their March handle coming in through their apps and states like New Jersey and Indiana are bumping up against that 90% figure.


The COVID effect

Bettors will continue to be bettors is what we have learned from the coronavirus lockdown   . Another thing that has come to light is the fact that bettors don’t care where they place a wager from. Gamblers just wanna gamble. Online poker has enjoyed a 43% increase since the pandemic hit (255% for first-time poker players) and eSports has also seen a huge uptick in business.

The one thing that both have in common is that both are being wagered on via mobile means. Younger bettors are being brought into the legal sports betting fold by eSports and online poker has created a whole new generation of online customers. Playing from home never seemed like much of an option to some in the past and is now a more-than-acceptable way to place a bet, night or day.



It is a good time to have a strong mobile betting capacity for both betting providers and for states. While revenues are not near pre-COVID levels, there is still money coming in to the sites and those jurisdictions.

Growth is a certainty in regards to the mobile betting industry. After all, half the world is still without a smartphone and new technologies like 5G will only enhance the betting experience on mobile devices. It’s a “cell phone world” in which retail sectors in every industry have suffered. Expect more of the same going forward and for mobile betting to become even more of an overwhelming choice of gamblers in the future.