By Josh Resnek
Legalized, organized, major league sports betting began in earnest in Massachusetts last week.
Encore’s betting kiosk and locations inside the casino experienced lines of bettors waiting for their chance to wager on the Super Bowl and other sporting events locally and nationally.
There are only, at this time, guestimates of the kind of numbers being generated by Encore at the Everett location.
First indications judging by crowd size and media buzz touting the sports gaming era that dawned last week, are that the numbers are strong and growing stronger every day.
Neither Encore nor Wynn will report early results.
However the flow of new money coming into the coffers is like that of a tidal wave, according to sports betting experts who follow the industry.
Legal sportsbooks are projected to take in over $1.1 billion in bets when the Philadelphia Eagles play the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII, a 16% increase from last year’s total. That would make it the most bet-upon sporting event in US history,” writes Bloomberg News business writer Brad Stone.
Stone points out bettors can try to predict not just who would win the game but on ephemera like who would catch the first completed pass, who would commit the first turnover and the precise length of the National Anthem performance.
Sports betting, however, is not considered panacea for the Encore’s of the world, Stone writes.
“In the financial markets, there’s evidence that the feverishly optimistic early days of online sports betting have come to an end.The stock price of DraftKings is down 76% from its mid-pandemic highs. Flutter is still looking for an opening to take Fan-Duel public, while smaller players, including Churchill Downs, Fubo Sportsbook and MaximBet, the online arm of the men’s lifestyle brand, all folded their cards and exited the sports betting business over the last year,” Stone wrote in his Bloomberg Business piece.
Early Tuesday morning at Encore appeared to be the calm before the betting storm that will come with great energy as the big game approaches.
“The tide very much turned over the last 12 months,” said James Kilsby, chief analyst of Vixio GamblingCompliance, a market research firm. “These companies, generally speaking, are all being pressured to show a pathway to profitability.”
More modest pressure is also coming from regulators in states wary of being overly permissive of what is, after all, considered a vice. When states liker Ohio and Massachusetts legalized sports betting recently, they followed the restrictive approaches of Italy and Spain, where betting has long been legal.
In these states, for example, online sportsbooks are prohibited from marketing to people under 21 and restricted from offering “risk-free bets” to try to entice new gamblers. Maine, now in the process of legalizing sports gambling, is considering even stricter limitations on advertisements, including an outright prohibition on celebrity endorsements, Stone concludes.
“Still, the odds are that these will be minor hurdles and that the underlying trend of more people gambling more money online on high-profile extravaganzas like Sunday’s big game will continue. You can bet on that,” Stone said.