July 4, 2018
The U.S Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the 1992 ban on sports betting has seen some swift changes, with Delaware becoming the first state to legalise sports betting across a whole range of professional sports, with New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia and more swiftly moving in the same direction.
Other states will soon follow, with hundreds of new digital businesses potentially set to capitalise on the opportunity.
In addition to our work in the eCommerce, travel, property and professional service sectors, online betting and gaming is one of the most competitive niches we work within – particularly with regards to SEO.
So – at this transformational time for the betting industry, and U.S punters, we’ve surveyed some of the most prominent influencers and analysts to get their take on recent events – and how the digital marketing landscape in the sector may change.
How rapid will the change be?
To many, the rapid spread of legalisation seems inevitable.
Vahe Baloulian, Strategic Adviser at BetConstruct suggests that the move towards a full regulated sports betting market will take place almost immediately as “it is an absolutely logical move. There are almost no negatives in regulating sports betting.” For US states.
While the potential tax windfall will be clear to many legislators, there will still be some who react with caution, keen to weigh up political factors, against the potential growth in revenue and digital development.
Keith McDonnell, the CEO of KMI Gaming suggests that;
“…things will happen quite quickly for an initial “batch” of States as the momentum behind the landmark SCOTUS decision takes effect. Others will take a long time, if ever, to regulate while the vast majority will watch and see, learning from implementation mistakes and successes.
Over the course of the next 3 years those who are likely to regulate will.”
Speaking to Reuters, Randy Gerardes, director of municipal securities research for Wells Fargo Securities in New York considers that for states like Delaware who move quickly, there are some plus points although the future isn’t totally clear;
“Being first out of the gate may offer some first-mover advantages but it’s difficult to ascertain exactly how much activity that will stimulate or how much revenue,”.
While the rollout of legal sports betting in the USA may end up being a mix of early adopter states, watched by a few laggards, it’s clear that digital experts on this side of the pond have been weighing up the opportunity for some time.
Bernard Marantelli, CEO of Colossus Bets is poised to invest, stating that –
“We have some of the best tech. and cash-out patent portfolio for the USA, so we will have a lot of demands on pool supply and product development from USA clients”
….while Vahe Baloulian of BetConstruct confirms that –
“We have been in the US for a few years already. Our sports betting technology is in the process of being licensed in Nevada at this moment and plan to expand to other states very fast.”
A changing landscape
In Europe and internationally, the relationship between sports, betting and digital innovation is unmissable, with companies like Sky Betting and Gaming referring to themselves almost first and foremost as an “international tech company”.
For now, US commentators are still coming to terms that they’ll soon likely see team and league-sponsored daily fantasy leagues, sponsorship on jerseys and across arenas and (of course) a legal and orderly way to bet online and on mobile devices.
The companies best positioned to make this orderly transition from illegal activity to smooth online entertainment may well be the companies who have been competing to improve customer experience for years here in Europe.
Sabrina Solda, CMO of BtoBet predicts that ”operators who can fast adjust their technology to be compliant market fast” will be the quickest to capitalise.
Alberto Alfieri, COO of Bet Entertainment Technologies predicts that current giants of the industry including “Bet365, Betfair and other top firms” will be quick to shape the sports betting landscape.
However, the most successful firms will realise they need to develop approaches that will feel tailor made for American audiences.
Bernard Marantelli predicts that the operators best positioned to take advantage of the potential opportunity are “USA media/operators with clients and European operators with experience – the winners need both”
The potential for digital expansion among companies who already have a domestic foothold is also emphasised by Keith McDonnell, who predicts that winners will be emerge from –
“Domestic land-based casinos and overseas online gaming brands that have spent years getting a foothold in the market and mass market consumer brands looking to add the gaming product vertical as an additional channel to monetise their customer base.”
The international perspective
As the US market opens, there are new opportunities for innovation – and to steal global market share from iGaming competitors.
While Alberto Alfieri states that “the size of the market, the amount of sport events and the relative immaturity of the US market will be attractive and challenging at the same time”, every new frontier that opens up, provides new avenues for smaller brands to make an impact.
BtoBet’s Sabrina Solda emphasises that “big US mass-market companies with huge databases of consumers will not miss the opportunity to enter this industry, taking shares of markets from big operators”.
As the global iGaming industry comes together, there will be increasing scope for unity of regulations – and potential offers, technology and wins.
As Keith McDonnell outlines;
“Increased competition delivering value for the consumer, more integrity in sports with transparent breadcrumb trails of betting patterns being made available to regulators and sports bodies and a general merging globally of best practice in running sports betting businesses.”
Vahe Baloulian of BetConstruct agrees, stating “It will energize the industry, bring more customers into regulated environment and introduce them to reputable operators and their wider offerings”
…while in terms of new offers, Bernard Marantelli is optimistic about – “globally linked jackpot bets”.
Opportunities and risks of US betting legalisation
As the market develops, there are challenges both in terms of player acquisition, and contributing to the smooth development of the industry in the USA.
Bernard Marantelli of Colossus Bets cautions about the need to manage the treatment of “problem gamblers, pro gamblers and CRM affiliates” to maintain a positive view of the industry with rigorous standards, a view echoed by BetConstruct’s Vahe Baloulian who states that;
“Risk is mostly with underage and problem betting, misunderstanding the pitfalls associated with any type of activity involving money and risk. On a regulated side, if the states are not greedy with their tax demand and they will earn a lot more.”
Similarly. Alberto Alfieri emphasises that “the market is immature from an online point of view and the experienced European operators will have face the challenge of the cultural differences” and his hope that “US regulation won’t be unreasonable from a taxation point of view, as taxes and compliance might be the biggest challenge for European operators.”
The opportunities associated with the USA opening up legal betting – and particularly online betting – are clear to see.
Keith McDonnell sums up the general feeling, identifying that –
“…the opportunities are pretty obvious with a whole new revenue channel opening up for regulated businesses, listed companies and other new entrants. Sports will benefit too, and betting brands will have a whole new media to target for sponsorship.
The risk is trying to be first and making mistakes. There is a library of precedence from around the world (Europe, Asia, Africa, LatAm) that US businesses should study and learn from to avoid making the same mistakes. The race is not to be first, but to be right.”
The potential of the US betting market is of great interest to operators, affiliates, technology providers and (of course) fans.
As our interviewees have outlined, the shape of the market will depend to a large extent on how individual states choose to legislate, and how domestic and international betting brands innovate to provide compelling offers to players, while managing risk.
At Blueclaw, we are specialists in iGaming SEO, content marketing, PR and PPC advertising. Whether you’re expanding into the US market or consolidating local operations – get in touch today or download our player acquisition guide.