Sports betting on cruises.

  • Cruise ship companies have begun adding legal sports betting on their cruises lines.
  • Legal land-based or online sports betting has been legalized in over half the country.
  • COVID-19 may deter patrons from booking cruises in the short term.

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. – As a way to bring in customers while the nation works to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, many cruise lines are offering legal sports betting on their cruises.

In states like California and Florida, where legal sports betting has not yet been added to its legislation, sports betting on a cruise could be viewed as a solid option.

However, with the pandemic still in effect, as well as more states with legal sports betting launching constantly, how viable of an idea is this?

Cruises Adding Legal Sports Betting

Popular California cruise company Princess Cruise announced recently that it will be offering legal sports betting on future trips. This is an incentive to bring players in. The cruise has suffered losses due to the pandemic.

“On Princess MedallionClass cruises our guests can stay connected with their friends and family around the world, and now with Ocean Sportsbook, they can also stay connected to their favorite teams and wager on a host of events whenever they sail with us,” said Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises. “Taking a cruise vacation no longer means being disconnected from a big game, an iconic event or friends and family.”

Since California sports betting has yet to launch, cruises would be the only legal retail sportsbook available.

The cruise ship would sail off of the US coastline, making their sportsbook legally able to operate as they will not be on US territories and therefore avoid California regulations. California sports betting fans would be able to wager on all of their favorite sporting events while on the cruise, with a sportsbook that would run Las Vegas-style betting.

While the idea makes sense, there are a lot of short and long-term issues for both sports betting fans as well as the cruise ships that are relying on sports betting to bring players in.

Short Term Problem

While it is true that this would be the only legal brick-and-mortar sportsbook option in the state, California residents are still dealing with the pandemic.

The coronavirus has been an issue for nearly a year and is not expected to subside anytime soon. While some Californians could be tempted to book a cruise, it probably would not be motivated by the addition of a sportsbook.

Florida runs into the same issue. While cruises are a popular vacation choice in the Sunshine State, it is doubtful that Florida sports betting fans would book a cruise just to wager on sports. In addition, Florida continues to have some of the highest COVID-19 cases in the country.

Certain players in California and Florida have states with legal sports betting within a short driving distance, while others in the state are known to use online sportsbooks that operate offshore. Those sites accept players from those states without requiring to pay the high price of travel costs.

The same if not better odds are available online, and if one factor in the cost of the cruise itself, it is a far more financially viable option than booking a cruise just to bet on sports.

Long Term Problem

Looking past COVID-19, eventually, more states will offer regulated sports betting within their legislation, making the need to travel on a cruise in order to bet on sports obsolete.

Looking at California, both local lawmakers, as well as the Quechan Tribe who runs the casino gambling market in the Golden State, are pushing for legislators to add legal sports betting. The local tribes all ready received enough signatures to have a sports betting bill presented on the 2022 ballot.

In anticipation of the believed inevitable launch of the regulated sports betting market in California, the Quechan Tribe has partnered with popular sports betting provider Kindred Group, giving them market access whenever the market launches.

The fact that deals like these are already being made, shows that the consensus by many is that legal sports betting will launch shortly.

Sports betting markets have grown substantially in the country every year since the 2018 repeal of PASPA. In 2020 alone, five states launched sports betting while five others legalized the activity. Sports betting fans simply won’t need to go on a cruise to bet on sports in the coming years.

So Is Cruise Betting Viable?

Truthfully, if a sports betting fan is on a cruise and there is a sportsbook, they are likely to use that sportsbook to place action. But the reality is, they are probably on the cruise anyway and the sportsbook is simply an addition.

Cruise ships like Princess Cruise will undoubtedly see success with their sportsbook, but as far as being an alternative betting option, it is more of a bonus package for players.

When states like California and Florida launch their own legal sports betting markets, the likely hood of someone going on a cruise just to bet on sports may be very low. But a cruise sportsbook could still be a big hit for patrons.

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