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Treasure Island Las Vegas Upgrades Retail Sportsbook But Discontinues Mobile App

  • Treasure Island Las Vegas has unveiled an upgraded sportsbook that now encompasses nearly 12,000 square feet with a capacity of more than 750 people.
  • The old TI sportsbook was hidden in a remote corner of the property and could seat fewer than 150 people.
  • Inexplicably, Treasure Island has discontinued their mobile sports betting app.

Treasure Island Las Vegas has unveiled a dramatically upgraded retail sportsbook in advance of football season. The Phil Ruffin owned property that was once known for nightly pirate battles operates an independent sportsbook in an era when every unique set of lines is highly welcome in Nevada. At the same time, however, the property has made the highly questionable decision to discontinue their mobile betting app.

The upgraded retail sportsbook is a welcome addition and even more so when there’s tasty food in the mix. The sportsbook is expansive, weighing in at right around 12,000 square feet–presumably to facilitate ‘social distancing’–with a modernized video display wall and multiple kiosks to facilitate 24/7 betting. There’s also VIP seating, a full bar and food served from 12 noon to 10 PM daily. For now, the live betting windows will be open Monday-Thursday 9 AM to 5 PM and 9 AM to 9 PM Friday-Sunday. Ironically, the expanded sportsbook took over the space once occupied by the Corner Market Buffet which closed for good in late May.

Here’s what TI owner Phil Ruffin had to say about the new sportsbook:

“In wanting to provide the best viewing and gambling experience for our guests, we’ve upped the ante on our sports betting operation. Now nearly twice as big as our former space and on the casino floor, we look forward to welcoming back sports bettors and satisfying their growing appetite for a truly remarkable sportsbook experience.”

The menu for the Golden Circle Sportsbook and Bar looks pretty tasty. Check out the Linebacker Bison Burger:

Here’s the full menu:


Here’s where the story gets strange. In conjunction with the upgraded retail sportsbook Treasure Island is discontinuing their mobile betting app. The app hasn’t been operational since the March shutdown of the Nevada gaming industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. TI sportsbook director Tony Nevill told the Las Vegas Review Journal that ‘the app will come back at the discretion of ownership’ which doesn’t tell us a whole lot. Account owners can withdraw their money at the sportsbook.

As the LVRJ points out, Las Vegas area sports bettors have lost three mobile apps in the past week or so:

The loss of the Treasure Island app and the absorption of the CG Technology and Caesars Entertainment sportsbook operations by William Hill will leave nine mobile apps available for bettors in Las Vegas: B Connected (Boyd Gaming), BetMGM, Circa Sports, Golden Nugget, South Point, Station Casinos, Westgate, William Hill and Wynn.

9 mobile ‘outs’ in the Las Vegas area isn’t bad but put that into context: New Jersey has 16 mobile apps and Colorado now has a dozen with more on the way. FanDuel just launched their app in Iowa giving the state a total of 8 mobile sportsbook apps. Indiana will soon have 7 with theScore Bet set to launch soon. Technically, the state of Nevada has 10 including the Atlantis Race & Sportsbook in Reno but due to the state’s outdated in-person registration requirement that requires a trip to Northern Nevada to sign up. The Silver State will likely get another mobile betting ‘out’ when Betfred Sports opens at the Virgin Hotel Las Vegas.

The TI’s decision to discontinue their mobile app is a head-scratcher. During the unprecedented two month plus shutdown of the Nevada gaming industry the only revenue was via sportsbook apps. Mobile betting was booming before the COVID-19 pandemic and will only become more popular as long as social distancing measures remain in place. In New Jersey’s July gaming revenue report mobile wagering represented right around 91% of all sports betting. In Nevada in July, mobile betting accounted for 69% of all sports betting wagers.

I’ve always liked Phil Ruffin and consider him a smart guy. Unfortunately, it looks as if he’s falling into the outdated ‘make them physically come to the property’ mindset that has dominated the gaming industry for decades. It’s a major hassle for a Las Vegas local to have to drive to a Strip sportsbook to place a bet and will be even more of one as visitor volume starts to return to normal levels. I don’t know the exact ‘locals versus tourists’ breakdown for sports betting revenue but suffice to say that there are plenty of residents in the Las Vegas Valley that bet on sports. The TI will lose a lot of that business altogether and that’s a significant amount–particularly mid-week when the visitor count drops. With no conventions coming to Las Vegas for the foreseeable future that drop will be even more severe.

Going against the inexorable march of technological progress, the prevailing industry revenue trends and the myriad issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t strike me as a winning move. That’s what the TI is doing by mothballing their mobile sports betting app. The ratio of retail to mobile betting will always be higher in Las Vegas than New Jersey for obvious reasons–the majority of the state’s population lives in Southern Nevada and there’s a slew of ‘locals casinos’ to serve them. Even so, the revenue figures clearly indicate a strong preference for mobile sports betting and to not offer that option is a downright inexplicable decision.


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