Even before sports betting was legalized, there were already moves from sports to sports betting. However, sports betting’s expansion has destigmatized the gambling industry. It’s made sportsbook executives attractive to sports organizations. It’s made sports organization professionals attractive to sportsbook companies. Sports betting expansion has even made executives outside the gambling industry attractive candidates for gambling companies. As sports betting has grown into a lucrative young industry, talent has been traded across gambling and non-gambling industries.
Why Cross-Industry Talent Is So Important
When an industry is young, there’s only so much talent to go around. Only so many successful companies, entrepreneurs, and executives can find success and develop expertise in an industry that’s only a few years old. However, many important executive skills transfer across industries. For example, someone who knows how to crunch customer data can be a vital marketing resource in most industries. Or, if a sportsbook needs a solid content creation plan, it can look outside the sports betting industry to professionals who know how to get that done.
Here are cross-industry moves three executives have made that show how creating a new industry creates new opportunities for everyone.
George Kliavkoff: BetMGM Board Member To Pac-12 Commissioner
In May 2021, George Kliavkoff made headlines for being the surprise choice for Pac-12 commissioner. However, his previous experience sheds some light on why he was chosen. He was the President of MGM Resorts’s Entertainment and Sports, where he oversaw several Pac-12 events at the arenas he was responsible for. He also sat on BetMGM’s Corporate Board.
Kliavkoff’s move from a gambling company to a sports organization speaks volumes about sports betting’s new reputation. Professional and college sports organizations opposed sports betting legalization. But since PASPA was repealed, sports leagues have made peace with sports betting’s spread. Professional and college leagues have found ways to partner with sports betting companies while maintaining each game’s integrity. Seeing a gambling executive welcomed into Pac-12 leadership shows how far sports leagues have come in their willingness to work with the gambling industry.
Brent Musburger: Sportscaster To Sports Betting Media Magnate
Brent Musburger was a sports broadcaster for six decades before he left ESPN in 2017 to start VSiN. VSiN was one of the first media companies to focus on sports betting content. Sportsbook operators noticed. In March 2021, DraftKings announced that it would buy VSiN.
While George Kliavkoff moved from sports betting to sports, Brent Musburger made the opposite move. He was a sports broadcaster who moved into the sports betting game. This shows that the cross-industry move can go either way. Leaving sports for sports betting is acceptable now in a way that would’ve been unimaginable four years ago. There’s no longer a (mainstream) perceived conflict between sports games and sports betting. Whether they like it or not, sports leagues and sportscasters have accepted that sports betting is a legitimate part of sports.
Brian Angiolet: Verizon Executive To DraftKings Media Chief Officer
Sports betting talent doesn’t have to limit itself to gambling or sports industries. Sportsbook executives can also come from outside the industry. Brian Angiolet was Verizon’s Chief Business Officer, leading content marketing campaigns that caught DraftKings’ eye. DraftKings made Angiolet its first Chief Media Officer, where he will focus on content creation and media strategies.
While the evolution of the relationship between sports and sports betting is remarkable, this is an important industry milestone, too. Not only has sports (begrudgingly) welcomed the sports betting industry. Other industry professionals find moving into the sports betting industry acceptable and even prestigious career moves. Moving from telecommunications to sports betting seems like a random jump. But leveraging the same customer analysis and engagement skills that he used at Verizon should make him successful at DraftKings. Bringing outside talent into the industry will produce new industry experts, titans, and success stories.
Free Movement Of Labor
Sports betting’s legalization–and the sports world’s embrace of it–has led to the acceptance of sports betting as a legitimate industry. Since sports betting is acceptable now, high-level business professionals can enter and exit the industry like they would any other. The movement of labor between sports and sports betting is notable. Sports leagues viewed sports betting with suspicion until sportsbooks proved they wouldn’t compromise the integrity of sports. Professionals moving back and forth shows how both industries have accepted each other. It also shows how transferrable certain skills are between sports and sports betting industries.
However, bringing talent in from outside the industry shows how young America’s sports betting industry is, too. Many large sportsbook operators work in multiple counties. After PASPA’s repeal, sportsbook operators needed to expand their American operations. They needed more staff, which included high-level executive positions. Prestigious places at companies like DraftKings show how far the industry has come in a short time. But the shortage of specialized talent demands professionals from other industries.
The free movement of labor between industries is encouraging for the young American sports betting industry. Today’s industry leaders will become grizzled specialists as sports betting further matures. Seeing these different professionals move in and out of the industry tells us how normal sports betting has become.