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Navigating mobile sports betting apps: More is better

Updated January 19, 2023 - 2:53 pm

Sportsbooks in the palm of your hand.

That’s what the wildly popular sports betting mobile apps give gamblers. The convenience of wagering from the comfort of home or anywhere else inside state lines has helped fuel the explosive growth of mobile sports wagering in Nevada and across the country.

In 2021, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, mobile wagers accounted for 64.6 percent of the state’s sports betting handle, or amount of money wagered. That amounted to $5.3 billion of a record $8.1 billion in bets.

Through the first 10 months of 2022, mobile sports wagers represent 68.1 percent of the state’s total handle, which has tripled since 2010 ($2.7 billion).

“Nevada’s sportsbook operators have been fast to offer wagers on a wider variety of events, which include ‘in play’ wagering (being able to bet on the game during the game),” GCB senior research analyst Michael Lawton said in an email. “This type of wagering has become increasingly popular with the public and is a perfect product for mobile wagering.

“The bottom line is that a computer-savvy public, along with a sports passionate culture, have embraced sports wagering on their personal devices, which has been a key contributor to the $5.4 billion increase in sports betting volume Nevada has recorded between 2010 and 2021.”

There are 10 sports betting apps available in Las Vegas. We surveyed a handful of professional sports bettors and handicappers for their thoughts on which ones to use.

Bettor, shop around

One thing the bettors all agree on is that it’s paramount to have as many apps as possible to shop for the best line.

“It’s right up there with breathing and having your heart beat,” quipped pro bettor Cris Zeniuk. “Those are the top three: breathing, heartbeat and having as many outs as possible.”

Systemplays.com handicapper Doug Fitz, a retired police officer, recommends having at least three or four apps to get the best number.

“Nobody can be that lucky to use one app and take the worst of the number 30 or 40 percent of the time, or whatever the case may be, and expect to win in the long run. You can’t do it,” he said. “It’s hard enough to do it with seven or eight apps.”

Here are six key app categories to consider:

Bonuses

The $1,000 risk-free first bets and other enticing promotions advertised nationally are available only in states new to legal sports betting, not in the gambling capital of the world. But several apps in Las Vegas do offer sign-up bonuses and reward programs.

Station Casinos offers a bonus of 10 percent of initial deposits up to $1,000, which would equate to a $100 bonus. At other times of the year, Station has offered a 10 percent bonus on deposits up to $5,000.

The Westgate has a “Bet $100, Get $100” promotion for sign-ups, and William Hill/Caesars offers a “Bet $50, Get $50” promotion for sign-ups.

BetMGM awards a $10 bonus if the guest types in “Bonus” before their account is activated.

Ease of use

Many apps use the same Las Vegas-based Stadium Technology software and thus feature similar platforms, which are regarded by our panel of bettors as easy to use.

Apps that use Stadium include Circa, the Golden Nugget, South Point, Station Casinos, the Westgate SuperBook and Wynn Las Vegas.

“They’re extremely easy to use,” pro handicapper Lou Finocchiaro said. “If I can navigate in an app, then anyone can.”

Fitz likes that bettors don’t have to log in to view the odds on several apps, including BetMGM, Boyd, Station, Resorts World and Wynn.

When bettors do log in, several liked the fact that multiple apps, including Boyd, Station and Wynn, allow them to do so using biometric methods such as facial or fingerprint recognition.

Most of the panel prefer to place bets on apps that use rotation numbers, the unique numerical identifiers for each bet that are standardized across sportsbooks. Apps that use rotation numbers include Circa, South Point and the Westgate.

“You shouldn’t have to search to find a team without a betting number on a college football or college basketball Saturday,” Xpressbet handicapper Frank Carulli said. “You have to search through a minefield to find a game at times.”

On the flip side, some bettors prefer to look at lines in chronological order, which is how Caesars/William Hill lists its games.

Odds, prices

The best odds are in the eye of the bettor.

“It varies. It entirely depends on what you’re trying to do,” Zeniuk said. “Sometimes one book is the best, sometimes it’s the worst. Westgate and Circa have the tightest margins, but then you’re betting into sharper lines.”

Fitz, mostly an underdog bettor, swears by the lines at Station.

“One thing I really like about Stations is they hang on to more favorable numbers, at least underdog numbers, than any of my other places,” he said. “I get a lot better numbers, usually by a half point. That’s the most important thing, when it comes down to it. If I can get 3½ on an NFL game at Station when everyone else in the world is showing +3, I’m going to play 3½ every single time.

“A favorite player would probably want to hit Circa or the Westgate.”

A pro bettor who asked to remain anonymous rated Circa, Westgate and Caesars/William Hill as the top three for pricing and futures.

Another sophisticated bettor praised Circa for its “Yes/No” wagering options on futures.

“Where else can a player wager on the ‘No’ on a future?” he asked. “Nowhere else.”

Westgate and Circa offer a more-enticing 10-cent line on hockey, while most other books use 20-cent lines (for example, offering -130 on the favorite and +120 on the underdog as opposed to -130 and +110).

As for bets against the spread, the Westgate offers -105 lines on the NFL on Thursdays and also offered -105 lines on the college football bowl games the Thursday before they started, as opposed to the standard -110. (That means bettors had to wager only $105 to win $100 instead of $110 to win $100.)

The South Point offers -105 lines on the NCAA Tournament on the Sweet 16 and beyond, and the book also has offered -105 lines on the Super Bowl in the past. It also never adds juice to the line.

“South Point is good because they always have -110 lines,” handicapper Eric Parkila said. “You won’t see -2½ -120 or +3½ -120 there.”

Carulli noted that Caesars/William Hill offers three-team, 10-point football teasers for -120. He said Westgate and Circa generally have the best odds. But when it comes to futures, every book has the best number at times.

“I have friends text me all the time, ‘What’s the best odds on this team to win it all?’” he said. “It’s a different book for a lot of them.”

Menus

Boyd, which uses FanDuel odds, has one of the biggest sports betting menus in Nevada, with a vast array of alternate spreads, totals, parlays, props and much more on a wide variety of sports.

Caesars also has a massive menu and, like Boyd, offers odds on everything from the major North American pro sports to international soccer to lacrosse, rugby, cricket, darts, cycling and sailing.

Besides sports, Station, Boyd and Wynn also offer horse racing on their apps, and Station offers dog racing as well.

Limits

Circa is the only book that posts bet limits above each wagering option on its app.

“Circa takes monstrous limits,” said the pro bettor who asked to remain anonymous. “Whatever you’re looking to bet, they’re going to accommodate you. Their house limits are very fair.”

The same bettor rated Circa No. 1 for limits, followed by Caesars/William Hill and Westgate.

Some high-stakes gamblers like that several apps will automatically show their limits when bettors try to punch in amounts that exceed them.

“The No. 1 thing, which is not applicable to most people, we (pro bettors) like about Circa is that they post the limits there,” said Zeniuk (@lasvegascris). “There are some other shops like the Westgate, South Point, Wynn and MGM that, once you punch in an amount higher than they’re willing to take, they’ll tell you the limit. That’s appreciated also.”

Live betting

For live betting, or in-play wagering, Caesars/William Hill and Boyd were the only two apps mentioned by our panel.

Carulli uses Caesars/William Hill.

“Their in-game is tremendous,” he said. “They have it up for every play. It’s constant. You can play in game the whole game. There’s always a line after every hoop, every pitch and every play.”

Zeniuk advises live bettors to only place a wager at a commercial break.

“I don’t recommend live betting with anybody unless you’re at a commercial,” he said. “Do not bet unless it’s at a commercial because they all have feeds that are ahead of you.

“They all spin you (delay accepting the bet). Your bet is going to get confirmed if something went against you, and you’ll get denied if it went in your favor.”

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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