The opening panel at this week’s GiGse event in Miami provided a thoughtful start to conference proceedings, tackling the subject of how the industry can align its future with policy goals of gaming legislation and regulation. Fittingly, the panel comprised a selection of high profile figures including Brandt Iden, state representative at the Michigan House of Representatives; Becky Harris, chairwoman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board; William Coley II, Ohio Senator and president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States; and former Florida Senator Steve Geller.

One of the dominant topics running through each address was how a newly regulated sports betting sector can eradicate the long established black operations. Coley approached the issue, saying: “The prime concern we have – and most states should have – is what can you do to curb the illegal sports betting market? And if that’s not your number one focus it should be because there is a lot of sports betting going on already. You’re going to have to have aggressive enforcement. If you’re going to maintain the so-called ban on sports betting interstate then you’re going to need aggressive enforcement from trained individuals.”

He added: “Your local law enforcement is not going to do that. I asked our legislative service commission for a list of all the arrests and prosecutions for violation of the sports betting law in the state of Ohio over the last five years and they’ve yet to tell me of any. There might have been one, but it’s just not going on.”

Coley advised that the obvious way to eradicate illegal sports betting is by legalising sports betting and structuring it and controlling it and regulating it. “To be effective in doing that it has to be available to consumers,” he said. “There’s a lot of push from our friends in the casino industry. In Ohio we have four full casinos and seven racinos that have horse racing and slot machines. So between us we have 11 facilities. How are we going to eradicate illegal sports betting if we just offer sports betting at those locations?”

Coley also advocated the creation of a central portal, saying: “One of the things we’ve been talking about in Ohio is the creation of a portal, gathering all the betting data together so you can route out problem gaming, match integrity and anti-money laundering. It would be a common portal, like what they have in Europe where you have all the information shared so you can see the anomalies. If anyone doesn’t think that’s a good idea, please come tell me, because I happen to think that a common portal would be a good thing.”

He offered some thoughts, too, about how stakeholders should respond when the major sports leagues come knocking on the door for an ‘integrity fee’. “You’ve got to negotiate with the leagues,” he urged. “When they come to you, you say who paid for your stadium? Who provides the police and public protection and traffic management to get in your stadium. Who is that? And you want how much? Those negotiations are going to get better.”