Online Vs. Retail: Mobile Wagering Dominates The US Sports Betting Market

As the legal online sports betting industry enters its third year, states that offer both retail and online sports betting show a clear trend. US bettors prefer mobile betting by a significant margin.

According to August 2020 monthly revenue figures, online betting handle accounted for 87% or more of overall betting handle in five of the biggest sports betting markets in the US. New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Indiana, and Illinois all took in the vast majority of overall sports bet from their respective online platforms.

Of the six states on the following table, Iowa saw the biggest percentage of overall handle represented by in-person wagers. Even in the Hawkeye State, however, online handle produced nearly 70% of total bets.

Retail Vs. Online Sports Betting Handle, August 2020

 August 2020 Retail HandleAugust 2020 Online HandleAugust 2020 Total Handle% of Total Handle as Online Wagers
New Jersey
$66,036,664
$601,942,486
$667,979,150
90.1%
Pennsylvania

$43,431,292
$321,554,131

$364,985,423

88.1%
Indiana

$20,163,026$143,900,567
$164,063,593
87.7%

Colorado

$1,979,971
$126,666,238
$128,646,209
98.5%
Illinois
$16,066,250
$123,577,637
$139,643,887
88.5%
Iowa
$15,320,323
$34,993,351
$50,313,674
69.6%

The land-based casino landscape of each of these states varies, and the effects of COVID-19 on the live casino industry certainly skews these numbers toward robust online betting figures. Even with that in mind, however, the present and future of US sports betting appear to favor mobile platforms.

New Jersey’s August 2020 numbers set all-time US records for monthly online and overall sports betting handle. Online wagers accounted for more than 90% of the overall handle figure (nearly $668 million).

Led by market leaders FanDuel Sportsbook and DraftKings Sportsbook, New Jersey takes the top spot as the biggest online sports betting market in the US. Atlantic City casinos reopened at limited capacity on July 1, but that hasn’t affected the surging online sports betting industry in the Garden State.

Pennsylvania shows a similar trend, even with casinos across the state authorized to resume business in late June and early July. Like it’s neighbor to the east, Pennsylvania’s online and overall betting handle in August stand as record highs for the state.

Online betting accounted for more than 88% of all wagers in Pennsylvania for August. Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s land-based casinos are operating with major restrictions, however, and the nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is undoubtedly limiting the revenue potential of retail sports betting in both states.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic forced casino nationwide to close, however, both states were averaging around 80% of total handle as online wagers.

Emerging Online Sports Betting Markets Show The Same Trend

Colorado brought in 98.5% of overall handle as mobile bets in August, with the state bringing in more than $126 million in online betting handle. Online betting will likely continue to make up most of the Colorado betting pie, as land-based casinos in the state are only authorized in three small mountain towns, as well as tribal lands.

Just about every big name in the sports betting industry wants a stake in the Colorado market, and that interest reflects the potential of the state’s mobile wagering market. Since the May 1 launch of legal sports betting in Colorado, 15 different brands have launched online sportsbooks in the Centennial State.

The Illinois sports betting market is just beginning to take shape. DraftKings and FanDuel launched in the state in August, joining BetRivers as the first three online sportsbooks to go live in the state. PointsBet and William Hill entered the Illinois market in September.

The casinos licensing those online sportsbooks are situated all over the state. As such, online wagering should dominate against in-person betting as the Illinois market continues to evolve.

Indiana (87.7%) and Iowa (69.6%) also took in the majority of betting handle as online bets in August. Even when the casino industry returns to normalcy post-COVID-19, mobile wagering will almost certainly continue as the main revenue-driving force in the US sports betting industry.

About the Author

Geoff Fisk

Geoff Fisk is a San Diego-based writer, specializing in the poker and gambling industries. He’s written for numerous platforms and has traveled the globe as a live poker tournament reporter. Geoff’s interests include the legal online poker industry in the U.S. and abroad.