In advance of the hotly anticipated Betting on Sports America conference in New Jersey this month, event panelist John Levy of media firm theScore shared some of his views on the US sports wagering business and how he expects it will shape up as more states go legal.

Betting, according to Levy, is just one of the ways fans interact and engage around sports. “The repeal of PASPA was something we had been eagerly anticipating for some time,” he noted. “Everyone stood to benefit by acknowledging betting exists, and embracing it as part of the sports fan experience. We look forward to the state-by-state roll out and the opportunity to enhance the sports betting experience in the US market.”

theScore was the first media company in North America to announce plans to launch a sportsbook as part of its offer. Discussing the rationale behind the move, Levy explained that sports betting is a perfect fit and “…something we’ve covered in our content offering for as long as we’ve been around”. He continued: “In our TV days (theScore sold its television business in 2012 to focus on mobile and digital sports), we were the only network to carry live odds on our on-screen ticker.

“We understood and accepted that people were betting on sports. We embraced the fact that this was part of the sports fan experience, and we took this approach to our app experience too. This has helped us build an app audience of more than four million sports fans a month, many of whom we know like to bet on sports. So, instead of just giving them the information for them to place a bet elsewhere, we will soon be able to bring them the bet too.”

How the media approaches new opportunities arising from sports betting depends, said Levy, on the individual enterprise. “For us it’s a perfect fit because of the audience we’ve already built as well as our expertise, so we’re diving in head first,” he offered. “Others may simply prefer to act as marketing partners or ‘affiliates’ of other betting platforms or produce content, news and information relating to sports betting, which is totally fine. But for us I always felt like we’d be leaving something on the table, and doing a disservice to our users, if we didn’t go all in.

Listening to Levy, the decision to offer sports betting seems to have been more of a natural progression than a pivotal move. “Firstly, we have the in-built audience,” he stated. “Not only do we have more than four million sports fans on our app each month with best-in-class engagement (over 100 sessions/user/month), we have a monthly reach of some 70 million across our social channels. That’s huge marketing value for us, as well as our partners.”

He added: “Our focus on technological solutions to fulfill fans’ expectations has been what’s driven us to a leadership position with theScore, and is what we’re applying to our upcoming sports betting offering. This is supported by working with partners who share this vision, notably the extremely smart team at Bet.Works, to help deliver a top-notch sports betting platform and loads of domestic industry knowledge.”

As for the next five years, Levy predicts the emergence of a sports betting sector that enjoys much wider appeal and places fan engagement to the fore. “I think you’ll see large-scale adoption of sports betting across the United States and a much broader acceptance of this being part of the fan experience,” he advised. “I also expect mobile will be the primary platform where sports bets are placed. The ability to offer highly-personalized and user-friendly sports betting experiences on mobile will continue to grow. I think it’ll become an accepted norm that most sports betting happens through a mobile app.”

Betting on Sports America boasts 175 leading industry speakers across 40 sessions, with 60 exhibitors displaying their latest products on the 61,000 sq ft exhibition floor at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Delegates will be treated to world class hospitality with plenty of business and networking opportunities in New Jersey (Meadowlands Racetrack) and New York (40/40 Club and Sky Room Rooftop Bar). For more information about the event, please visit the Betting on Sports America website.