While mobile sports betting has finally arrived in Pennsylvania, it looks like there are still a few hurdles to clear before reaching the maximum potential.
Currently, the big complaint from users is that they can’t place bets from an iPhone or iPad. And that’s a major problem, considering more than half of mobile users (possibly more than half of bettors) are using iOS. That has considerably drawn back the profits, even though the $573,000 in bets placed at SugarHouse in three days after their launch at the end of May could have been larger.
The lack of iOS compatibility from the three legal online sportsbooks – SugarHouse, Bet Rivers and Parx – is due to the recent Apple App Store policy update which insists that online gambling apps be coded to iOS, and not be a part of the HTML web app. None of those sites have yet to comply with Apple’s updated terms. Since most online casinos use an HTML path to function their mobile apps, this certainly has the potential to be a catastrophic issue for the entire industry.
Apple is now restricting new apps that are not compliant and said that by September, they will begin removing old apps whose code isn’t up to par from the App Store. This means a number of current online sportsbooks in New Jersey could be under this same fiasco if they don’t update their apps as well.
Why don’t they just fix it already? Well, the answer may not be so simple.
Recoding these apps can take up to three months. Now that we’re in July, that three-month period would end right during the first month of football season.
Most online sportsbooks and casinos use third-party providers to do business. These types of betting apps are usually made with HTML coding so are viable on the web and then wrapped into iOS and Android apps.
The Google Play Store doesn’t allow any type of gambling in its space, but since Android is an open system, users can download the app directly from operators’ sites. On iOS, however, all app downloads have to go through the Apple App Store.
Large Companies’ Advantages
When FanDuel Sportsbook finally launches in The Keystone State, this might be the big break that all Pennsylvania bettors on iOS could be looking for. FanDuel is expected to launch in either late-July or August, and it’s expected that they will be compliant on the iOS front. That would give FanDuel a major advantage over the other books, but also give Pennsylvania residents on iOS a place to wager online.
Companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have already taken a major step over their competitors in New Jersey. Since they are tech-first companies that are equipped to handle all of these compliances much quicker, it looks like they’ll have the upper hand here in nearby Pennsylvania as well.
While mobile sports betting is finally in Pennsylvania, these hiccups are certainly impacting the smaller guys in the short term. However, it looks like the rich will be getting richer once all of these compliances are finally sorted out.