Betting conference tries to foresee future

Betting conference tries to foresee future

November 14, 2017 3:11 AM


A strong contingent of Nevada sports wagering and bookmaking leaders are set to appear today (Tuesday) at this week’s Sports Betting USA conference taking place in New York City.

Afterward, there might be a clearer picture of what might happen if single-team sports wagering is allowed to proliferate beyond Nevada. Generally, many observers believe sometime next year the U.S. Supreme Court will announce a ruling that removes the federal ban on sports wagering.

But just what will transpire if and when the proverbial flood gates open?

Clarion Gaming, the conference organizer, says it will present content geared toward both sports and gaming sectors, highlight the legal and legislative paths to the possible repeal of PASPA; discuss misconceptions around sports integrity; outline data monetization strategies, fan engagement opportunities and new revenue streams for the rights holders, and present routes to a regulated market for the operators wishing to offer single-team sports wagering in the U.S., should it become legal in states other than Nevada.

Many international betting companies have already bet millions of dollars on the eventuality of expanded sports wagering in this country.

Ewa Bakun, head of content for Clarion Gaming, said, “I have been monitoring the evolution of the sports betting discussion in the USA for the last two years waiting for the right moment to offer this conference to the market. As this issue has now become a mainstream one, largely due to the effort by the American Gaming Association and the shifting positions of the sports leagues, and as we’re starting to see operators actually invest to prepare for regulated sports betting through products that are legally viable.”

Among the Nevada sports information and wagering leaders expected to attend and/or participate in various panels are Benjie Cherniak, president, Don Best Sports; Art Manteris, VP race and sports operations, Station Casinos, Red Rock Resorts; Joe Asher, CEO, William Hill U.S.; Vic Salerno, president, U.S. Fantasy; Jay Rood, vice president of race and sports, MGM Resorts International; Ed Malinowski, director of race and sports, Stratosphere; and noted gaming attorney Tony Cabot, partner, Lewis Roca Rothgerber, Nevada.

The event brings together gaming operators including land-based casinos, tribes, licensed sportsbooks, both online and land-based from Nevada and the European markets, DFS operators, lawmakers, regulators and suppliers to discuss the path to legislation and routes to market.

Attendees will also hear a keynote address from Geoff Freeman, president and CEO, American Gaming Association. Other prominent gaming leaders expected to attend include Debbie Thundercloud, chief of staff, National Indian Gaming Association; Dennis Drazin, chairman, Monmouth Park and advisor to the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; and Kip Levin, CEO, Betfair (Paddy Power) U.S. & TVG.

Just last week, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins speculated his fantasy sports powerhouse might transition itself into a Las Vegas-sports wagering operation, should the practice become legal in the U.S.

The fact of the matter is hopeful sportsbook operators will have a legislative minefield to negotiate as each state develops its own law to govern sports wagering. As one major Las Vegas leader pointed out at the recent G2E gaming conference several weeks ago, sports betting is not as profitable as many think, noting a hold of five to ten percent is considered acceptable. That’s not a whole lot in the casino world.

How will each state handle an operator that wants to operate online only without any brick and mortar operation? If sports wagering doesn’t create any new jobs in a state, for instance, will an “online only” operation be licensed? To cover higher taxes, will the normal juice (vigorish) on a wager be raised to 20 cents on the dollar from Nevada’s standard dime? Will there be a crackdown on offshore operations when an inevitable price war over the cost of a bet ensues?

Indian gaming is a major force in three of the most populous gaming states, California, Florida and Connecticut, so operators there will need federal guidelines for sports wagering and may have to negotiate new compacts with state governments.

Will Nevada operators with well-known brand names be able to swoop into states where they already operate and start taking bets right away?

What will happen in Nevada? Will Super Bowl parties and the influx of youthful bettors for March Madness college basketball wagering become just a memory?

Will the bettors benefit from a price and/or rebate war spurred by competition among bet takers or will operators be granted a monopoly in a state after paying a stiff licensing fee? Will excessive taxes and government regulation pluck the sports wagering golden goose – as it has in horseracing – before it has a chance to grow and prosper?

The questions go on and on and hopefully this week’s Sports Betting USA conference will provide some clarity.

As a wise friend often points out and has been stated in this space previously: “We don’t know what we don’t know.”