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Drive-Thru Sportsbooks Could Become A Las Vegas Trend

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • The Nevada gaming industry remains in a state of shutdown with all casinos closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Several sportsbooks are taking bets via their mobile apps and the Westgate and South Point will join them later this week.
  • The South Point and Circa Sports are providing ‘drive-thru’ servicing for mobile betting accounts.

By the end of the week there will be six Las Vegas sportsbooks apps taking bets as South Point and the Westgate Superbook join already up and running MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, William Hill and Circa Sports. While the Westgate has already announced that mobile betting will be available only to existing customers until further notice the South Point came up with a clever workaround by providing ‘drive thru’ account servicing in their valet parking area. Now Circa Sports will join them, offering signup and servicing in the valet area of downtown’s Golden Gate Hotel & Casino. Circa Sports will also allow customers to sign up for their Circa Million and Circa Survivor contests via the drive thru service.

The ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ workaround from Circa and South Point highlight a problematic limitation of Nevada state gaming regulations. Gaming regulations require that all customers sign up for sports betting apps in person. This stipulation is based on the outdated thinking that casino properties are best served by forcing everyone inside. The result is that sportsbooks open fewer mobile accounts and during the unprecedented COVID-19 shutdown that has been the only source of revenue.

Most states that have come online since the overturn of PASPA have taken the more practical step of allowing online signup for online account–including the most recent addition to the US sports betting marketplace Colorado. This has created a situation where a Denver resident will be able to open a sports betting account at the Monarch Black Hawk from home. If a Las Vegas resident wants to open an account at the Atlantis Sportsbook–also owned by Monarch and using the same lines–they’ll have to take a trip to Reno.

Gaming regulations further hamstring sportsbook operators and customers with more silly rules. Casino employees cannot carry cash outside so all deposits are ‘exact change only’. In addition, players will not be able to ‘cash out’ through the drive in service. All winning bets and refunded tickets are applied to the app balance. If players do need to make a withdrawal they’ll fill out a form and be mailed a check. There is at least one Nevada casino set up for drive thru betting–that’s the Fiesta Rancho–but since Station Casinos is currently closed that’s not in operation. With social distancing becoming a new watchword that’s something you might see grow in popularity over the next year or so.

The good news for the South Point is that the drive thru service has been a big hit. According to the Las Vegas Review Journal, a photographer counted at least 50 cars go through the line in a matter of a couple of hours with several leaving because the line had grown too long. South Point general manager Ryan Growney quipped: “I had an over/under on how many cars we’d see. I lost about noon (an hour after opening).”

South Point will continue servicing app customers in their valet parking area from 11 AM to 6 PM 7 days a week. Circa Sports will launch their drive thru service in the Golden State valet area on Thursday from 10 AM to 6 PM 7 days a week. In addition, William Hill is reportedly looking to set up their own drive thru servicing option.

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