Delegates attending the opening day of the inaugural Sports Betting Symposium at this week’s G2E were given a useful insight into how states and tribes are preparing for legal sports betting thanks to a high-profile panel comprising Matthew Morgan, director of gaming affairs, the Chickasaw Nation; Susan Hensel, director of licensing for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and David Rebuck, director at the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. Moderating was Chris Cylke, VP of government relations at the American Gaming Association (AGA).
Morgan told conference attendees that from a tribal perspective he wished he was as far along as his colleagues on the panel. For Indian nations the situation is more complex, he explained. “We have a model compact which does not include anything about wagering on sports.” He added, however, that tribes are ready to “go to work with their state partners” to establish sports betting.
Rebuck, who covered several topics over the course of the panel, offered his view on some of the more negative connotations surrounding legalized sports betting, namely that it represents a ‘race to the bottom’. Describing the race reference as “complete nonsense”, he said that the old established betting market was at an “abyss”, and highlighted the instant opportunities available already to wager illegally.
“The illegal market is massive in the US and has been for a long time,” he noted.”We learned this in the course of our litigation. This is big and it’s right in your face. People talk about a race to the bottom – the bottom is already there. We’re raising it up.” He added that the states are capable of regulating the new sports betting landscape to a “very high degree” and can do a significantly better job than when it was unregulated.
Hensel, during the closing Q&A session was handed a perfect opportunity to turn on critics of Pennsylvania’s controversial 33 per cent rate of tax on sports wagering and the $10m licensing application fee. Instead, she took a conciliatory tone, explaining that with five applications under process, it clearly had not deterred potential suitors.