Spectrum Gaming Group, the independent research and professional services firm, has developed its 15th annual list of Most Important Trends that the global gaming industry needs to monitor in 2019.

Out of the 10 leading predictions, eight focus on the US gaming sector, specifically sports betting and lotteries. Spectrum noted: “Sports-betting legislation will continue to proliferate in the United States and gain momentum, as we expect at least nine state governments and lotteries to begin the process of authorizing legal sports betting, spurred by various forces, including the fiscal needs of states.”

It added: “Concurrently, the relatively slow acceptance and expansion of online gaming in the US will speed up in 2019, fuelled in part by the proliferation of sports betting in a digital format, as well as by the need for legislatures to plug budget deficits.”

On the subject of lotteries, the group predicted that their expansion into both igaming and sports betting will grow significantly, creating competitive tensions in jurisdictions that have both lotteries and either tribal or commercial casinos. This, it said, will require legislatures to address such conflicts through new policies that provide limits as to the online channels and offerings that lotteries and casinos can pursue.

It stated: “Private companies and organizations that have not previously been involved in any form of legal gaming, such as sports bars and restaurants, will seek to offer sports and/or online wagering, largely choosing to become lottery retailers, as they follow the lead of lotteries into this burgeoning field. More states will respond to fiscal pressures by expanding their gaming offerings through additional licenses, lottery expansions, retail gaming and other means, prompting existing land-based casino licensees to push back, as they view such expansions as detrimental to their operations and to the value of their existing licenses.”

Spectrum also suggested that states and tribal governments that have existing compacts that did not contemplate online or sports betting will face increasing pressure to overcome their reluctance to open compact negotiations to address these areas.

On external influences, the group predicted: “European and Asian B2B sports-betting and online gaming providers will seek entry points into the US market, with many facing challenges due to previous online ventures into gray and black markets. This will prompt legislators and regulators to develop clear, uniform definitions as to what constitutes a gray or black market.”

Finally, the group warned of more M&A activity in US casino operations. “…online gaming consolidation in general will continue, as sports book/online platforms and operators will be on the radar for US operators and suppliers,” it said. “Related to that, we expect European players to be hunting for US acquisitions as well.”