The sports betting industry is bigger and better than ever before. Having successfully broken the stranglehold held by Nevada a few years back, fully legal and regulated sportsbooks are now operational in more than half of U.S. states.
But while expansion is undoubtedly a boon for individual bettors and bookmakers, how as this rapid evolution affected the scene in Sin City? Well, according to several prominent professional bettors, the idea of leaving Las Vegas and continuing their career elsewhere has never been easier. Read on to learn about a few of the biggest reasons behind the ongoing exodus as pro bettors depart the desert for good.
1 – New Markets Attract Innovative Operators
Unless you’re a well-heeled “whale” who plunks down thousands of dollars at a time, Las Vegas sportsbooks aren’t exactly courting your action. Sure, they’re happy to have legions of tourists betting a few bucks on that night’s big game, but the biggest bookmakers in town don’t rely on small-scale customers to stay afloat.
For that reason, most of us mere mortals can typically expect nothing more than a free drink ticket at the sports bar when we bet modest sums.
It’s an entirely different scene in emerging markets like Colorado, where voters approved a ballot referendum authorizing legal sports betting back in 2019. From there, both online / mobile betting apps and brick and mortar sportsbooks have both become fully operational in the home of the Rocky Mountains.
Taking a $5,000 bankroll to a big bookmaker in Las Vegas likely won’t get you noticed at all. At best, you’ll score a handful of complimentary cocktails or maybe a few buffet vouchers. But as fans of sports betting have happily discovered, that same bankroll deposited with an online / mobile sportsbooks instantly produce significant rewards.
When ordinary bettors know that they’ll be treated like royalty by their local sportsbooks, making the long sojourn to Las Vegas loses any luster it once held. Simply put, the city benefited immensely from its decades-long sports betting monopoly, one which federal law preserved by preventing states other than Nevada from legalizing the industry.
Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has decisively rejected that ban – allowing states like New Jersey, Colorado, and dozens of others to set sports betting policy as they see fit – a new generation of bettors just doesn’t see the point in visiting Las Vegas.
2 – Mobile Betting Apps Makes Sports Wagers a Breeze
Even if you do happen to call Las Vegas home, you still don’t have much reason to check out the sportsbook in person these days.
Of course, seeing shrines to sports betting like the Westgate SuperBook or Circa Sports up close in personal is a treat… the first time anyway. After that, when the novelty value has worn off, even local legends like Teddy “Covers” Sevransky are largely betting from the comfort of their couch.
Sevransky compared his analog betting routine from back in the day to how he gets down in 2021:
“My first year, ’98, I’m literally driving from book to book every afternoon. I had an eight-book route. I’d start at 2 and it would take me until 4. I did that every afternoon that first basketball season. I don’t do that anymore. The app betting has gotten better, (and) the new signup bonuses have gotten good and all the pros have been trying to finagle ways to take advantage of those.”
As “Teddy Covers” tells the tale, even experienced Las Vegas lifers like himself are coming to appreciate the convenience and efficiency of online mobile betting apps. As the technology improves – and operators continue to integrate the full slate of wagering options offered onsite – online / mobile apps nowadays cover every available base for bettors like Sevransky.
Whether you’re a longtime pro who earned a cool nickname like “Covers” cashing tickets, or a recreational bettor in Reno who doesn’t have time for the southbound drive, online / mobile betting only makes sense.
You can wager the second you spot a soft line, rather than waiting in a long line hoping the odds aren’t updated before you reach the window. You can explore the long list of props and exotic bets without toting around several sheets of paper. And with several of the top apps loaded on your device, you can easily shop around for the best prices your betting buck can buy.
Add up all those elements and even Las Vegas loyalists like Sevransky are ditching physical sportsbooks for their online / mobile alternatives.
3 – Successful Bettors Tend to Get “Backed Off” and Denied Action
One of the major dilemmas faced by consistent winners at the sportsbook has always been the “heat.”
In other words, once the bookmaker takes note of a bettor who seems to cash tickets like clockwork, they traditionally move to limit the house’s liability. This is achieved through several means, namely sharply curtailing a player’s betting limits, or flat out rejecting to book their action at all.
Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos knows all about getting “backed off” from the big-time corporate sportsbooks. As a veteran member of a betting syndicate based on the East Coast, Kyrollos used to consider Las Vegas to be his home away from home.
That all changed over the last two decades, however, as corporate consolidation along The Strip led to just a few operators pushing the city’s bookmaking buttons.
Spanky described the slow yet inexorable decay of what once was the world’s sports betting capital:
“The glory days of Las Vegas are gone. Las Vegas used to be the mecca of sports gambling, but Las Vegas is not the same Las Vegas it used to be. It’s run by corporations now, and they don’t realize you need to hire a talented bookmaker. Every professional gambler out there relies on the offshore market. There’s no such thing as a professional sports bettor that is solely relying on the domestic market. It doesn’t matter if you’re in Vegas or New Jersey or any state that has a legal sportsbook. Once you get good enough, they’re gonna kick you out.”
You can see what Kyrollos is talking about for yourself by following his Twitter page at @spanky, where he routinely posts videos of his interactions with physical sportsbook staff. After inquiring about the current betting limits, and learning that his action has been severely limited, Kyrollos politely but firmly expresses his dissatisfaction.
And inevitably, when the sportsbook manager learns that he’s dealing with a certified pro, “Spanky” is often spanked with a comprehensive ban from the book.
In his estimation, any bettor who manages to achieve a certain level of success will eventually be left with no options. Once you’ve been backed off by all the big bookmakers in Las Vegas, the last resort is to flee to other states or offshore online / mobile operators.
Millions of people will visit Las Vegas to wager on sports this year, and next year, and every year after that. The city’s status as a world-class gambling destination will never be revoked, even if niche industry’s like sports betting are suffering through tech-driven disruptions.
With that said, the number of people out there who get their action down in places other than Sin City will continue to increase at an exponential pace. Between the overall cost of planning a trip, the hassle of hoofing it back and forth between books, and the ease of use offered by online / mobile apps, the modern sports bettor is no longer beholden to Las Vegas-based bookmakers.