Opinion: William Hill Mobile App in Iowa Delivers Overall
It took some time – that’s a nice way of saying I couldn’t get to it as quickly as I wanted – but the verdict is in on the William Hill mobile app introduced to Iowa last week. Overall, it’s positive. It works, it’s efficient, and it’s popular.
Here’s the backstory: As you probably know by now, Iowa became the 11th state to go live with legal sports gambling last week. It happened Thursday afternoon at six casinos in the state, with more joining this week.
Mobile Sports Betting a Hit in Iowa
What makes Iowa unusual is the use of mobile devices. Similar to laws in Nevada and New Jersey, Iowa allows sports wagers to be made anywhere in the state via mobile apps. William Hill US was first out with a mobile app in Iowa, albeit only for Android devices initially.
The app was a hit at opening ceremonies at the state’s largest casino, Prairie Meadows near Des Moines. William Hill US also launched the app through three other casinos – Eldorado Resorts properties in Waterloo and Bettendorf, and an Affinity Gaming property in Osceola.
Immediately after the Prairie Meadows ribbon cutting, players stood in line for more than 30 minutes just to sign up for the app. They were told they’d receive information by email and be able to download the app, load the account and start wagering away from the casino.
In my case (the cause of which could be poor penmanship on the initial paper application), the email didn’t arrive. When I returned to Prairie Meadows on Sunday, William Hill had several more reps on site, assisting customers in downloading and navigating the app.
Ups and Downs of Iowa Mobile Sign-Up
I was able to download it but wasn’t able to get completely through the sign-in process. Without time to stay and work on it, I decided to try again Monday morning. By then the crowd had dwindled and reps were abundant, and the rest of the process was rather easy.
The process involves downloading the app from www.williamhill.us/iowa to your Android device, then filling out the usual information before taking a photo of your ID, a scan of the barcode on the back, and a mug shot. All are programmed into the setup process and easy to accomplish:
Overall, it wasn’t difficult to download, but it did get hung up on a few steps. One in particular that kept sending me back to the start was the password, which didn’t allow capital letters. After trying a few times, a William Hill rep asked if my password contained any caps. It did. Quick fix, and we were back to getting it set up.
On the first two attempts to log in – for which you must be in the casino – the app struggled to locate my phone at Prairie Meadows. A simple hack (move around a bit) eventually worked. From there, I went to the window, handed over $200 to load the account, checked to make sure it was loaded (it was, immediately), went home and placed four $25 baseball wagers – the over on the Nationals, the money line on the Cardinals, the money line on the White Sox, and the run line on the Diamondbacks.
The nuts and bolts of wagering on the app is straightforward and self-explanatory. It looks like this:
Curious about how quickly it would pay, I checked the app immediately after the final out of the Nats’ game. Money was there within 30 seconds of the final. Nicely done:
A couple of points of interest: A variation of the app for iOS should be operating soon, WH reps said. Also, while loading and withdrawing are currently cash-only, in-person transactions, WH reps indicated that debit/credit transactions eventually will be available in Iowa.
William Hill Experience Goes Well Overall
Aside from the initial delay – and everyone who stood in line that first day knew it would take time to get the app on their device and begin playing – the process wasn’t terribly difficult. The William Hill reps onsite were knowledgeable and quick. It wasn’t a breeze, but it wasn’t expected to be. And it works.
People stood in line for longer than one might expect on a Thursday afternoon at a casino in Iowa for a reason. These were casual players exhausted by the difficulty and illegality of their hobby. All of them likely had a story about the pain of withdrawing from and depositing to offshore books. Or the incessant robocalls. Or perhaps they’d dealt with unreliable bookies in the past.
They simply wanted their hobby to be legal and accessible. They wanted to place wagers without having to drive to a casino every day. They wanted the hassle removed, and they got it.
It played in Des Moines. If anything, that’s a signal of what’s to come on a much larger scale. As more states remove restrictions on sports gambling – and as more states go full-on mobile about it – this is bound to change everything.