Come for the game, stay for the gambling. Or maybe vice versa.
With the ongoing expansion of legalized gambling, teams and leagues are incorporating the opportunity to place a bet as part of the fan experience. Few have gone as far as Real Madrid, which is building a casino into its renovated stadium.
The revamped Santiago Bernabeu will essentially be a full-service entertainment center where a famous soccer team happens to play its home games. Construction on the stadium, which originally opened in 1947, is scheduled to finish in summer of 2022 and will also incorporate a restaurant, museum, and event space.
Other leagues are exploring their comfort levels with integrating gambling into stadiums.
- The Washington Nationals have plans to set up betting windows and kiosks at Nationals Park and are working to allow betting from seats.
- The NFL still prohibits in-stadium betting areas and kiosks but will allow “gambling lounges” that showcase mobile betting options.
- Fans of Fulham in the Premier League expressed concern over the team’s main sponsor being gambling operator BetVictor, with 44% saying it made them uncomfortable and 22% saying they wouldn’t buy the club’s shirt because of the association.
While Texas and other states are lifting COVID-related restrictions, others such as California currently only allow 20% capacity at games, and pre-pandemic game-day revenue is unlikely to return soon. Meanwhile, the at-home watching experience continues to improve as networks and tech companies compete for fans.
Though not every team is ready to go as far as the Nationals and Real Madrid, the potential for revenue alone is likely to bring live betting to more stadiums around the world. In 2020, U.S. casinos pulled in a record $1.5 billion in revenue from their sportsbooks, per the American Gaming Association.