With all the ongoing hyperbole over PASPA and the hotly awaited verdict in the New Jersey case, SBC Americas caught up with Casey Clark, Vice President of Strategic Communications for the American Gaming Association (AGA) for his view of the situation and how it might unfold.  

One of the obvious questions posed by observers is what are the most likely benefits of a regulated sports betting sector in the US for bettors, sportsbook operators and the sports leagues?

Clark believes that the benefits of a regulated sports betting sector in the US are substantial. “It will allow greater transparency into betting markets to help ensure the integrity of games and it will help destroy the illegal market,” he said. “Furthermore, it will protect consumers by giving them a safe, legal alternative for betting. The illegal market offers customers no protections, generates no revenues for states or tribes, and offers no transparency into the integrity of games being bet on.”

A regulated betting sector would also be a significant revenue generator according to Clark. “As noted in the Oxford Economics study, the Economic Impact of Legalized Sports Betting, widespread legalised sports betting in the US would generate billions of dollars in tax revenue,” he noted. “Further, a Nielsen study estimated a legal US sports betting market could generate over $3bn in advertising and sponsorship revenue alone for the sports leagues.”

While the US and the watching world eagerly await a clear cut outcome on legalisation, there has already been a flurry of activity in a number of states as they look to take advantage of a legal betting sector. But can we naturally assume that the majority of states will follow NJ in the event of a repeal verdict? “Many states are already preparing for a post-PASPA future,” Clark responded. “West Virginia just became the first state in 2018 to legalize sports betting pursuant to a change in federal law. Pennsylvania and Mississippi did the same last year. And there are more than a dozen states with active sports betting legislation seeking to do the same.”

There is a view that convincing bettors to go for a legal means of betting is not going to be straightforward. Some argue that unregulated bookies can offer a more convenient route to betting with less red tape and paperwork and, crucially, better odds.

Clark agrees that bettors choose where they wager based on who has the best odds but getting them to choose the legal market is, he argued, simple. “Offer consumers the best product in the legal market. West Virginia’s legislation is a step in the right direction. It does the most to eliminate the black market by helping ensure a low tax rate and a wide portfolio of betting options for consumers. Following the lead of states like Nevada and West Virginia will help ensure that this will continue to be possible.”

The views expressed by Clark make even more sense when placed in context of some key findings contained in the aforementioned Oxford Economics Study. The direct employment impact of regulation, representing employment in sports betting operations is expected, said the study, to total 86,819 jobs. Additionally, 129,852 indirect and induced jobs are expected to be supported, resulting in a total employment impact of 216,671 jobs. Sports betting is expected to contribute $22.4bn to US GDP. On those talking points alone, regulation of the market is clearly a no-brainer.