WHO ARE INTERESTED IN THE US SPORTS BETTING MARKET?

It’s too long time when I wrote my blog last time. I spent last week in New York/New Jersey in the excellent Betting on Sports America event. I learnt there quite a lot about US Sports Betting opportunities and among other things had chance to give my advices to US lotteries.

I got also some feedback about my blog. I heard that quite many is reading my stories via mobile phone and it has been difficult to read it when I’m writing too long paragraphs. I now try to change my style a little bit and hopefully it will help.

It’s not 100 % sure what will finally happen there in USA. The PASPA decision seemed to chance everything and in fact made Sports Betting legal or at least made it “non-illegal”. But after that there was another court decision which changed almost everything… At this moment there are less than 10 States where Sports Betting is already allowed. There are also 10 – 15 States which are planning to make it possible quite soon. It’s possible that about half of US States will have legal Sports Betting in next few years.

About 90 % or even more of participants of the European Sports Betting seminars are already somehow involved in that business. That’s why I was surprised there in New Jersey when I noticed that at least half of audience didn’t have so much knowledge about our business. That was strange but at the same time fascinating. The whole business might change due/thanks to those newcomers and I’m keen on seeing what will really happen!

I try to make short analyzes about different interest groups who are involved in Sports Betting in USA. The first group is of course customers. There has been huge unregulated/illegal Sports Betting market in USA. Customers are already used to make a bet and that would help a lot but at the same time it means that customers are more critical and enlightened. If US companies won’t succeed very well it would be possible that the unregulated market will stay quite big.

There are lack of information and knowledge about gambling and Sports Betting among politicians and regulators. They should make big decisions but how they could take care of that if they don’t understand enough about consequences? The whole gambling industry should deliver as much valid information as possible, but we should understand that politicians won’t so much for our issues.

All top sports leagues are interested in Sports Betting. Their attitudes vary quite a lot but all of them are now thinking about their role in that new business in USA. The biggest ones NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have already extremely big business by themselves, but they would like to control and get some more revenue also from gambling side. I don’t believe that any leagues would start their own Sports Betting business.

Las Vegas has been the only place in USA where Sports Betting has had legal role already many years. There are lots of gambling companies operating Sports Betting. Those companies might have good position if they could utilize scalability but I’m not sure if they can do that. The most popular sports in USA are different ones compared to Europe. Vegas bookmakers have razor-sharp analyzes about American football, baseball and basketball and it will be very difficult to beat them in those areas.

Some big European Sports Betting companies like William Hill have already established their operations to USA. Those companies are used to offer same products all over the world and scalability is one key word for their success. They have of course chance to manage in US market too, but it would be more difficult than they have expected it to be because they have to make it in slightly different way in all States. I have heard that they haven’t got so good revenues for example in New Jersey as they have expected.

How about US lotteries? They are used to outsourced they business operations to technology suppliers and probably they will do the same if they will decide to move to Sports Betting business. If they would like to manage in the heavy competition, they should control their customer database and operate at least in some areas in different way than the other operators are doing. I gave them two potential business ideas: they could offer “the most responsible” Sports Betting in US or/and they could offer “more lottery style” pool-based sports games too.

Big technology companies are used to operate some gambling products on the behalf of license holders and of course they would like to do the same also in Sports Betting. I won’t be surprised if some of those tech companies would like to own operating license by themselves too.

The big new player in gambling business might be media companies. The message from BOSA seminar was clear – all big US media companies are considering the business possibilities in Sports Betting market. The main scope is to make Sports Betting more entertaining than it has used to be. Media companies’ core customer group is sports fans not heavy punters. I have had that same idea already 15 years… Those big companies like ESPN or NBC have lots of money and if they decide to be big player in Sports Betting business I wouldn’t be surprised if we talk about 9 or even 10 digits investments! I guess that they won’t try to get operating licenses for themselves but some important roles they will have for sure.

There are also lots of investors who are looking for new business opportunities from gambling business. I’m not expert on that area but I have understood that there would be some billions of dollars available investments. Normally private investors are just looking for profits and that would make Sports Betting business even heavier than it’s used to be…

There are many critical things still open in US Sports Betting business. What would happen if interstate gambling would be allowed? It’s obvious that in that case different companies would manage. What kind of limitation there will be – for example now mobile gaming in allowed just in five US States? What will happen if Silicon Valley will concentrate on the gambling technology development? That might chance the whole industry and who will manage then in our business. I’m extremely keen on seeing what will happen and hopefully I could play some role there!

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