There has been a lot of press about the potential for sports betting since the Supreme Court ruling that overturned PASPA in May 2018. There are also plenty of published articles with analysis of the potential impact of sports betting in terms of market revenues, companies that might win and lose and how (and how fast) sports betting will roll out.
I don’t need to rehash those, but I want to talk about a few areas that may not have received as much attention. As with anything in a regulated and legislated industry, there may be fits and starts, as we witnessed with the Justice Department’s recent ruling on the Wire Act. As a result, there may be other events that accelerate or slow down certain aspects of the rollout of sports betting, or make my predictions look foolish; so don’t bet on these opinions (pun intended) of just one person.
Data and Information Security
Near and dear to the hearts of those who read Gaming & Leisure Magazine, we have had some experience with online gaming in the U.S. – both play-for-fun and real money. Overseas we’ve had even more. But the presence of sports betting in the U.S. – much of which will be conducted via mobile devices and the Internet – will put a huge focus on information security. For example, areas in focus include identity verification, age restriction, data security and transactional integrity. This is an opportunity to advance our industry. Perhaps we create new and better ways to secure payments online and spread that technology to other industries. Or perhaps we form partnerships with others who have best practices in identity verification and leverage that technology to improve confidence in gaming transactions (leading to greater adoption and increased revenue).
Injection of New Talent
Whenever industries cross over, talent migrates. And in the case of sports betting, there will be massive industry crossover. Media companies are already intertwined with sports, but now realize that sports betting is an inroad to whole new audiences. Because of the market potential, they are investigating and analyzing how they can participate in sports betting. We may see partnerships form, investments made, or other involvement of media companies in our industry. Other examples include technology companies, companies focused on data and analytics as well as sports teams and leagues.
In reverse, this mingling of different industries creates opportunities for talent in our industry to learn new skills and find new career paths.
Improve the Perception of Gambling Generally
The American Gaming Association publishes a survey report each year that includes, among other things, the public’s perception of gambling. This is always a positive score and historically has increased as gaming has spread to more states. Sports betting is something most Americans already do, and having it be a legal, regulated and transparent activity should only improve that perception. Maybe more importantly, the perceptions of regulators, legislators and others with influence over our industry can be positively impacted; after all, these folks also participate in this activity.
Of course, this depends on our industry performing at its highest level as sports betting rolls out – whether in terms of our professionalism in managing the business, ensuring the technology protections discussed earlier or in making connections with our customers.
We will need time to see how the rollout of sports betting evolves and how the areas noted above may come into focus – or other areas that we haven’t thought of. What we know is that legalized sports betting is here to stay, and we all need to pay attention to its impacts and consequences, intended or unintended, on the rest of the gaming industry.
Rick Arpin is a seasoned finance and operations executive with over 20 years of experience. Most recently he was Senior Vice President of Entertainment with MGM Resorts, and also held senior finance positions at MGM, after starting his career in public accounting.