Legal betting in the USA will create a whole new ball game for sports
By David Sargeant | October 25, 2017
Legal betting is coming to the USA. This will change sports.
If you believe the optimists then this December will see the beginning of nationwide legal sports betting in the USA.
In December the US Supreme Court will decide whether The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is unconstitutional. If it rules the Act is indeed unconstitutional then this could lead to a monumental shift as individual states will decide for themselves if and how sports betting could arrive legally in the USA on a grand scale.
PASPA arose in 1992 as a way for the sports leagues to stop the spread of sports betting. However, it has largely failed as the illegal market, serviced by offshore operators, is estimated to be worth between $3billion (£2.2billion) and $8billion (£6.1billion) of profit annually.
The potential for such change is exciting. As a sports betting consultant it’s the stuff of dreams. I help betting operators around the world find new products and new ways of engaging gambling consumers through sport. Having a whole new legalised market – estimated to be worth up to $6billion (£4.5billion) in the next five years – would be amazing.
How sports wagering may look on a state by state level is a big unknown. Even the timescales are unknown. To be honest, we don’t even know if it is actually going to happen. Regardless though it is time now to engage your consumers with sports.
There is an opportunity today to acquire, engage, and brand build. This is valid for any gambling brand, but even more important if your ultimate end goal is building a sports betting audience.
Sport yields unending daily talking points and important opinions. Bets are also opinions, so driving sports conversation absolutely drives betting volume. In Europe we are used to seeing sports betting operators utilise sports content to engage consumers and drive revenue.
I work with Fresh8 who automate the whole process of identifying consumers, what they do and what they are reading, and delivering the correct sports betting message to the correct person at the correct time. If you ever read Sporting Life you will see how the Skybet advertising changes depending on who you are and what you are reading.
This obviously does not happen in the USA. It always surprises me how the established US horse racing industry doesn’t utilise digital content in this way. But it is true for any gambling brand.
And gambling brands are pervasive in European Sports. Almost half the Premier League has gambling shirt sponsors. Draft Kings and Fan Duel, the daily fantasy operators – which is the closest thing to legal sports betting, pumped $200million (£152million) into advertising in 2015.
I would expect sports betting companies to pump a magnitude more into ad spend on the other side of the pond if they are allowed to. This will change American sports.
Why wait? There are many ways to engage with sports fans today without having betting as the end product. Lots of companies are emerging either with engagement products or, as Clarion’s Head of Content Ewa Bakun describes it, “sports betting lite”.
There are lots of these products emerging: Resorts Casino has launched a head-to-head fantasy game with Sport AD. Chalkine Sports have a free to play pickem product. WinView are engaging advertisers with an ad-funded play-for-prizes model.
Clarion definitely believe the time is right and are launching a Sports Betting USA conference in New York in November for those readying themselves for the potential market.
Not only is this conference extremely timely with the PASPA hearing due for December but I haven’t seen this optimism around sports before. However, no matter what the outcome, the time to engage with sports is today, because it might just be a different ball game tomorrow.
About the contributor
David Sargeant is a Sports Betting Innovation Consultant based out of London, UK. He works with sports betting, horse racing, and gambling operators around the world helping them innovate their sports betting product, and works with startups and suppliers trying to break into the sports betting industry.
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