Sports Betting v Casino Games: What Makes the Bookies More Money?

In the online betting sector, rarely do you see a sportsbook without some sort of online casino attached. In fact, pretty much all of the successful sports betting brands over the last 100 years have eventually released some form of casino, be it online or brick and mortar.

Transitions from the casino to sports betting have been fairly common as well, although not as common as from sports betting to casino. This probably highlights that there is good money to be made in both sectors, but it’s likely to be the casino where the big bucks are made.

The way in which both of the gambling sectors work may seem worlds apart, but in fact the basics for each are very similar. They both provide margins on their markets which mean that regardless of what happens in each game, bet, or match, the bookmaker and casino is guaranteed to make money.

When we try to compare casino and sports betting, there are two key areas that we need to address:

  • Margins
  • Turnover

Margins

Profit MarginsWe’ve spoken about margins in sports betting within other articles so we won’t go too deeply into it here. The basic principle is that each book that is created for each market is weighted in the bookmaker’s favour.

The easiest way for us to explain this is with a simple coin toss. The chances of heads and tails are the same; 50/50. A “true” price for this would be 2.00 or even money for each bet, but the bookies need to apply a margin to it r else they don’t earn, in this case let’s say that it’s 5%. This means they offer odds of 1.90 for either heads or tails. So, providing they take the same amount of money for both heads and tails, they make £5 for every £100 staked on this market.

Casino games work in just the same way. Slots are probably the most common game and you will see that each game has an RTP (Return to Payer) percentage attached. The numbers range from around 90% up to 99%.

The percentage will state the amount money the game pays out, so a 95% RTP on a slot would mean that it pays out £95 for every £100 staked, with the casino pocketing the £5 difference.

Margins for sports betting are generally higher than those of casino games. You will be looking at anywhere from as low as 4% and right up to 15% and even higher for some markets. If you bet within a high street betting shop, then you can expect these numbers to be higher still, more than double in some cases.

Casino games can vary. Blackjack is considered to be one the games with the lowest margin, with an edge of just 1.5% in some variants assuming the perfect strategy is applied to each hand. There are actually bets within certain games that have virtually no edge at all.

At this point you may think that given sports betting generally has the higher margin, that side of things would make the most money. Well, this is not always the case.

Turnover

Time and MoneyThe reason that this is not always the case is turnover.

Turnover is the number of hands or the amounts of bets that can be placed in a set amount of time. The casino is an environment where you can play a huge number of games or hands in a very short period of time.

Let’s look at slots as an example of how this might work. On average, you can make up to 600 spins per hour at an online slot machine. At a stake of £1 per spin, this would mean that a slot can turnover £600 per hour. And that’s just from one person, hundreds of people can play the same online slot at the same time.

Over the course of a football match (90 minutes), if you had bet on the WDW market then it would take a single bet of £900 to cover the same turnover that a slot would generate in the same amount of time.

This means that it would take 90 punters who wagered a relatively low average of £10 per bet to create the same turnover as a relatively low stakes slot player betting just £1 per spin.

When looking at the margins and the turnover, the fact that you can play so many more hands per hour at the casino than you can make bets at the sportsbook, negates any difference in the margins that are used. The turnover beats the margins every time.

Comparison of Sports & Casino

ComparisonWe thought we would use this section to make a comparison between some sports markets and casino games to get an idea of how much money they might make per hour.

There’s not a lot of data on the average stake per player for either, so we are going to with an average bet of £50 for sports and then an average stake of £1 per hand/spin with casino. Whilst the actual numbers may be off the differences should still be suitable to highlight how they would work when playing online.

The first table that we are going to look at is the sports table, which includes a number of football and horse racing related markets:

Sport/market Average margin £ staked per hour
Football (WDW) 4% £50
Football (BTTS) 6.5% £50
Horse Racing (Outright) 12% £100

Next up we are going to look at a number of casino games:

Casino Game Average margin £ staked per hour
Slots 3% £600
Blackjack 1.5% £200
Roulette 2.5% £100
Craps (from) 1.4% £250

Even though the numbers aren’t totally accurate here as they can vary depending on the game type and the strategy that you apply to your game, it does highlight that the amount of money made is much higher at the casino than it is from online betting.

The margins are higher for sports betting, but given that the casino are able to turnover a huge amount of hands per hour compared to the time it take for a football match to complete, means that even with smaller margins they are able to make more money.

We told you earlier in the article that more bookmakers have included casino games than casinos have includes sports betting, and this is because you can make more money from a big casino than you can from a big bookmaker.

FOBTs (Fixed Odds Betting Terminals)

FOBTs are another hot topic that we’ve already covered in depth. They are basically the casino games machines that you find in all high street bookmakers. They allow players to play casino games from their local betting shop.

FOBT

They’ve made headline news in the past due to the fact that punters were able to bet hundreds of pounds per spin, creating massive sums of money for the bookmakers but massive issues for problem gamblers. New legislations were put in place limiting the machines to just £2 per spin. Betting shops can also only have a maximum of 2 of these machines per shop.

This obviously limits the amount of money that the bookmaker can earn, and some shops have even closed as a result of dropped profits.

This highlights as well as anything else that the betting shops were heavily reliant on casino games to keep them running as more and more people switch to online betting. The betting side of things alone barely keeps the lights on, it’s the FOBTs making all the profits.

What Makes the Bookies the Most Money?

To answer the original question, the answer is overwhelmingly in favour of the casino. The margins are smaller, but they can pull in so much money in such a short space of time that there is really no competition.