Only six short months ago the United States Supreme Court repealed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) paving the way for states to bring legalized wagering to their constituencies. A tornado of activity has since ensued with Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) providers DraftKings and FanDuel effectively pivoting to be full-fledged sportsbooks, launching online and even opening brick and mortar establishments; MGM Resorts becoming the “Official Betting Partner” of the NBA, NHL and MLB; and, as of this posting, seven states in the union joining perennial gambling superpower, Nevada, to offer legalized sports wagering in some shape or form.
What does this all mean for the sports fan? For the 84% of us that don’t live in (or plan to visit) one of the eight states, nothing has really changed, aside from every sports content provider now turning on the discussion firehose of percentage odds of outcomes, points spreads, money lines and over/unders. Thanksgiving week, in the much-hyped pay-for-view-then-free-to-view golf battle between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, we as fans, got a glimpse into what live sports event productions could look like in the future. Unfortunately, the bottom of the screen looked more like a CNBC financial ticker than a subtle and intriguing data drop on the continuously updated chances of each player winning the hole.
There has been a white-hot spotlight on the potential avalanche of in-game betting during live events. Imagine sitting on the couch in Springsteen’s hometown of Asbury Park, NJ and betting $10 on each pitch Justin Verlander throws in a May start, if LeBron will miss a free throw, or if the Devils will score on the power play. Pundits believe the US sports fan will have a voracious appetite for such things and gaming operators, teams, leagues and media companies are contemplating the investment required to make in-play betting a reality. But here’s the thing, today the stakeholders are in a money grab for the lateral movement of capital from the illegal and offshore markets to the regulated geographies. The only sports fans that will have a punchers chance to make money wagering in a traditional sense are ones that do it aggressively today and leverage algorithms and data sets to give them an edge against the house. So where is the upside for the sports gaming industry?
In order for the U.S. sports wagering “handle” (total amount wagered by fans) to swell from the conservatively projected $80B to north of $200B by 2023, a significant spike in new players is required. This means that consumers who are used to Amazon same-day delivery and making scooters start with an app for a dollar, will need a betting experience that is simple, frictionless and highly engaging. FanBeat’s live-action game, that aggregates scores across predictive-play and trivia questions, is just that type of simple and engaging experience that appeals to the casual fan and has the potential to materially impact participation numbers for U.S. sports betting. Stay tuned as FanBeat delivers our own unique flavor of sports gaming to the U.S. market as legalized wagering opens up and begins to gain critical mass.