Is the US sports betting market maturing as expected in a post-PASPA world?
I don’t think there were any expectations as to how the US sports betting market would develop. Everyone understood that if and when legal sports betting occurred across the United States, it would become the largest and most attractive regulated market for players and providers alike.
We’re also seeing a knock-on effect around the world, with companies pivoting their plans to focus on entering the United States ahead of Latin America, Europe or Asia. However, when we talk about the US, we’re not talking a singular market but 50 states with different regulations and different legal approaches. This means that while there are more challenges faced, there are also significantly more rewards. One state, such as New Jersey, can bring in more revenue for a betting company than half of Europe if entered correctly. Regulators in the US immediately set the bar very high for the level of compliance, which can scare off small companies because the process isn’t easy or cheap.
Often, expensive compliance specialists are required, which can give the impression that the market is more accommodating to ‘big business’ rather than disruptors. However, we’re seeing a lot of start-ups and Silicon Valley tech businesses start working on betting data and sports feed products. It will most likely be two to three years before they catch up with ‘Old World’ companies that have significant experience with betting products.
This puts investors into the American market in a difficult position. They will spend more money and time creating their own solutions if they ignore the existing technology companies and their expertise.
Is the sustained regulation of states vital to continued growth in the US, or is the lure of exclusive ‘sports betting states’ such as New Jersey the way forward?
It is only a matter of time before the vast majority of states introduce their own rules to legalise and regulate online betting. The more unified that regulation is, the more efficient the industry as a whole will be. If companies have to engage in development and jump through new legal hoops with every state it becomes a time-consuming and costly process.
Equally, instead of focusing on developing products, bringing innovation and optimising offerings for the US audience, companies will be spending resources meeting regulatory requirements. While it is important to protect players, convoluted legislator demands can be significant hurdles in a fast-paced industry.
It’s not to say it is a barrier to entry or development, but a smooth, sustained roll-out of regulation across the states will enable fast-paced maturation of one of the most exciting territories in the sports betting world.
What will be the next innovation for sports bettors in the States?
The first ‘innovation’ will be a change in mindset in the US, allowing or attracting innovative European companies to partner with not just the big beasts of land-based casino, but with the entire industry. Companies such as ourselves have enough technological and product developments that would appeal to the American end-user while also offering something really new to the market.
As competition increases in the market and the player pool grows, competition will change focus from a ‘speed of entry’ centric market to technology and efficiency. Operators who take this into account now and uses the latest innovations and developments will be in a prime position to capitalise on this. Moving away from a reliance on legacy technology and creating agile, player-friendly betting environments will allow them to be more reactive for the challenges and opportunities that will occur in the American market in the near future.