Operators Should Stop Pushing iCasino Play On Sports Betting Customers

Currently, there are only four states (with Connecticut poised to be the fifth) where online sports betting and online casinos coexist. And in those states, operators are starting to crumble in an attempt to get sportsbook bettors to enter the -EV world of the casino.

And they do it with good reason.

From January 22, 2021, Michigan residents were allowed to jump online, bet on sports, and enjoy their time in online casinos. As of September, the sports betting side of the operation brought operators $ 60.5 million in adjusted gross sports betting revenue, while the casino side brought operators $ 606.3 million.

To be completely clear: in Michigan, online casinos are currently doing 10 times more money than online sports betting.

Part of this discrepancy could be attributed to COVID restrictions on physical casinos, as well as the “novelty” of online casinos. After all, in New Jersey, where online casino gambling has been legal since 2013, online casinos are “only” doubling the income from online sports betting.

Either way, you cut it, however, in states where sports betting and online casinos coexist – Pennsylvania and West Virginia are the other two currently, with Connecticut on the verge of going operational – casinos are where operators take the lion’s share of their money. So it’s no wonder that if you live in one of these states and have a sports betting account, you find yourself constantly bombarded with casino bonuses.

Operators have so far been modest with the incentives: to play $ 5 blackjack or roulette on DraftKings, get $ 5 in casino credits. Play maybe $ 10 slots, get another 10 free credits. Every day DraftKings has an offer like this.

BetMGM, FOX bet, FanDuel … The list goes on with modest come-ons. In New Jersey – where I live – there’s a constant stream of promotions on the sports betting side, urging punters to dip their toes into the world of Lucky Larry’s Lobstermania II and friends.

But now the “Hey, why don’t you splash around in the casino for a bit?” facade has been reduced to rubble by Caesars. They don’t even pretend anymore, they don’t nudge anymore. Rather, they send emails like this in the middle of soccer games: “Check out this casino / football bonus! Is the subject heading, and once inside, the come-on is not so much a come-on as a BA Baracus style 2-x-4 on the noggin.

“I’m sure you’re ready for some football today. But if you add a casino to the mix, we’ll give you a bonus, ”the body of the email read. “During the promotional window, 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET, open your casino and start making money. Play during commercial breaks (not when our commercials are running, obviously), during downtime or if gambling turns out to be a rash.

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I’m as pro-gaming as you can be, and I definitely go to casinos every now and then, but wowza – if gambling is a blast, come and play -EV games just for fun, it doesn’t. is not cool.

It is beyond a call to action. It is a request – a request to play when we are already literally playing. It is imploring people to put themselves above their heads most likely.

It’s like stopping by your friendly neighborhood marijuana dispensary, and as you go through the inventory, an employee says, “I have crack too!” Want to give it a whirl? “

Keeping people ‘in action’

(Body of Caesars Sportsbook email)

“Sports betting is used to draw people into the constant, endless online casino action. It’s a public policy nightmare, ”said Harry Levant, who knows a thing or two about problem games.

Levant was a lawyer in Philadelphia with a gambling problem. Soon he was no longer a lawyer, having lost his license due to his addiction, but still had a gambling problem. He said he came seconds later. committing suicide in an Atlantic City hotel.

But he changed his life and is now preparing to graduate from La Salle University with a master’s degree in counseling and psychology, with a sub-specialty in addiction. He is also planning to pursue a doctorate, and in the meantime he is consulting for Jeremy Frank and associates, who specializes in addiction counseling.

“If you watch all the advertising, all the marketing, it’s to keep people in action,” Levant said. “You can’t walk into a bar and the bartender says, ‘Hey listen, buy your first beer here and the next 10 are available to us.’ But a bookie can tell you, “Hey, bet a dollar, if someone gets a hit in the game, you earn 100 credits to chase on our site.”

“What we do with sports betting and casinos is the antithesis of alcohol and tobacco, where we try to make sure that access to this material is limited. Here, everyone involved – government, industry and now the leagues and sports teams themselves – have a vested interest in keeping people in action, hence the evil is. And sports betting that cross advertises their casino games is certainly designed to keep people in action.

Despite Levant’s problems with betting, he is still 100% pro-gambling. He just wishes the operators would slow down a bit.

“This is not ultimately the person who succumbs to gambling disorder, as the industry cites,” Levant said. “It’s anyone who could be in danger. And the evil comes from access to action. With the marriage of technology, sports, media and casinos, you have instant access to the action. It can only cause harm. How much harm will this cause? We do not know yet. How do I know this? Because we had problem gamblers before it was online and legal, and they couldn’t bet Russian table tennis or put $ 500 on a blackjack hand on their phone.

Advice for the 45 other states

To be clear: From a business perspective, cross-promoting sports betting and casinos makes perfect sense. I am example 1A of this. I have never downloaded an online casino app, although it is legal in New Jersey. But once sports betting got the green light, I started downloading all sports betting. And these casino appearances were – and remain – enticing.

But I went down the rabbit hole of the casino a few times to my liking and chased losses to the point where… well, where a problem was pretty much a blackjack hand.

Do I think online casinos should be banned? Absolutely not. But I think – and it’s really a call to action for politicians in the other 45 states – that when / if online casinos become legal in your corner, you should deal with them and their sports betting brethren, like a church and a state. Keep them separate. By merging the two, you are – pun intended! – double the chances of developing compulsive gamblers.

“Previous analyzes of online gambling behavior have suggested that problem gamblers who are sports bettors and who are casino players may have different characteristics,” said Dr. Mack Costello, professor of psychology who heads the Gaming research lab at Rider University in Lawrence, NJ “As each at-risk gamer starts to use the other site more, we may see more problems faster for them, as the general behavioral characteristics of problem gambling online include higher and more frequent bets, as well as like chasing losses.

Shared wallets and shared connections for sports betting and casinos can seem like an advantage to the potential player, making things easier to access. But clearly, it also makes it more likely that casino players will cross the border in sports betting, and sports betting enthusiasts – just like operators want them to do – will be heading to the casino.

“If we take a known addicting product and say to government, industry and professional sports, ‘You’re going to make a lot of money from this,’ we’re going to have to regulate it in a way that it is. as safe as possible, ”said Levant. “Obviously, we’re not even close to that right now. “

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