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Best of Chris Sieroty

Gaming Guru

Chris Sieroty
 

Sports betting kiosks disappear; sports books switch to mobile betting

1 July 2013

LAS VEGAS -- Sports betting kiosks in Nevada will disappear on Sunday as William Hill U.S. pulls them out of about half the 84 bars, taverns and restaurants in which they operate statewide.

Gone will be the opportunity for patrons to open an account, fund it or withdraw money, as well as place bets all without visiting a traditional casino-based sports book. But what remains is the ability for customers to fund their mobile sports betting accounts and get updated lines on games, according to a William Hill executive.

“We are repositioning them from kiosks to mobile sports deposit hotspots,” said Dan Shapiro, director of business development with Las Vegas-based William Hill. “You can’t make a bet or withdraw money, but it will accept cash deposits.”

It’s not just William Hill. Cantor Gaming has pulled its signup stations from taverns ahead of the deadline. Neither bookmaker disclosed the cost of complying with the new law.

That law, Senate Bill 416, recently signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, bans betting sports betting kiosks in establishments holding a restricted license. A restricted license in Nevada allows a business to operate a maximum of 15 slot machines.

The kiosks generated $600,000 in revenue last year, or 0.35 percent of the total $170 million in revenue last year. Gamblers wagered more than $3.4 billion in sports in 2012.

On Thursday, William Hill hosted a party at a Sierra Gold tavern on South Jones Boulevard and Sunset Road to switch PT’s customer accounts from kiosks to the company’s mobile betting application. William Hill customers now have the ability to wager on games and add more money to their accounts at PT’s and Sierra Gold taverns in Southern Nevada, as well as Sparky’s and Sierra Gold taverns in Reno.

Shapiro said customers can sign up for mobile accounts at most of William Hill’s 100 race and sports books in Nevada.

“We recognize that mobile is the wave of the future,” Shapiro said. “We rely on mobile phones for almost everything these days. We switched a lot of these customers.”

Shapiro said the mobile hotspots will be in about 44 PT’s Pubs and Sierra Gold Tavern locations statewide. William Hill has no plans to expand that presence, he said.

The Nevada Resort Association, which represents Station Casinos Inc., Boyd Gaming Corp., among other large gaming companies, lobbied for the ban arguing sports betting kiosks blurred the line between nonrestricted gaming, such as hotel-casinos, and restricted locations such as bars and taverns that are limited to 15 slot machines.

Whether it blurred the line or not, Steve Arcana, chief operating office of Las Vegas-based Golden Gaming Inc., disagreed kiosks were a threat to traditional casinos. Arcana said the impact of kiosks was to significantly increase the sports betting handle in Nevada.

“At the end of the day, we’ll follow the law,” Arcana said. “We’re not happy about it. Our customers like sports wagering.”

Golden Gaming operates PT’s Entertainment Group, which owns taverns statewide, Golden Casino Group in Pahrump, and Golden Route Operations, a slot route business.

Cantor Gaming, a Las Vegas-based division of financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., expanded beyond its eight traditional race and sports books by inking deals with taverns to host its sign up station.

The sign up stations would allow customers to sign-up for a sports wagering account, as well as fund their account and withdraw funds. After opening an account, customers could wager using the Cantor Gaming mobile app.

Instead of using a kiosk, a Cantor Gaming employee would open or service accounts. As of Thursday, Cantor Gaming pulled its sign up stations from 11 taverns in Southern Nevada.

“It’s hard to see them go, every convenience that our state can offer the sports bettor keeps taxable dollars here as opposed to offshore betting sites or to illegal bookmakers,” said John English, senior vice president business development and public affairs with Las Vegas-based Gaming Arts LLC.

Despite the ban, the betting kiosk is not dead. Gaming Arts is in field trials with its EZ Keno Kiosk at the Siena in Reno. English’s former company Multimedia Enterprises in 2001 began developing Sports Bet Xpress, the industry’s first sports wagering kiosk.

English said he was confident the ban wouldn’t “stifle technology” because Nevada has approved online poker, sports betting and mobile wagering.

“You can make a bet from a computer, a smart phone or an iPad,” English said, “These are all great advancements and although the kiosk was a great technology for the small business operators, the new innovations in gaming will continue to thrive.”
Sports betting kiosks disappear; sports books switch to mobile betting is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.