Early in 2018 there was a fairly significant legal development in the United States that has taken a little bit of time to make a true impact. The Supreme Court lifted a ban on real-money betting, which resulted in the states gaining the ability to legalize the practice one-by-one. A few states were very quick to jump on board, a few more started a slow legislation process, and more will surely follow. Typically we wouldn’t think of such developments as being particularly related to the retail space. However, the potential for betting shops to open around the United States does make it similar, and worth exploring.
For the most part, U.S. betting will almost certainly take place online and on mobile devices. A thorough selection of websites in the bookmaking category is already active in the UK and around much of the world. These sites have established services and in many cases their own mobile apps, and are well positioned to simply expand their services into the U.S. In fact, there are already indications that some major bookmaking brands such as William Hill and Betfair are looking into doing just that. So it does seem more than likely that the internet will handle the early betting activity, and likely the majority of it moving forward.
However, there is no reason to believe that the U.S.-based betting business will be exclusively online. Just as there are UK models for websites and apps to handle bookmaking, there’s strong precedent for physical shops as well. Betting shops were first legalized in the UK in 1961, and sprung up in towns all around the country. And though they’ve since declined somewhat, these shops demonstrated for many years that bettors were perfectly happy operating in person. In fact, there’s even a vaguely similar model in the U.S. already. Las Vegas has long had brick-and-mortar betting houses, typically attached to restaurants, bars, and casinos and geared more toward providing whole entertainment experiences, rather than just betting.
To this point, one of the earliest indicators of a widespread in-person betting opportunity in the U.S. is coming from Buffalo Wild Wings. The company, best known for its chicken wings, bar-and-grill menu, and restaurants filled with televisions tuned to popular sports, is said to have interest in adding betting to its offerings. This would not strictly speaking result in retail betting shops, but it’s a very interesting possibility that could in fact get Americans used to placing bets in person as well as online. That comfort, down the road, could give modern U.S. betting shops a shot at success.
What we can say with something near certainty is that there will at least be attempts at new betting shops opening in the U.S. in the near future.