SBC hosted the latest iteration of its Betting on Sports webinar series this week in partnership with the American Gaming Association (AGA). ‘US Betting Industry Overview: Plans, Progress & Partnerships’, featured the AGA’s Senior Director of Government Relationships, Jessica Feil, alongside Senior Director of Member Services Jonathan Michaels. Moderating was SBC’s Director of Marketing and Communications for North America Kevin Smith

With almost prodigious timing, the Wednesday webinar came hot on the heels of the big industry announcement regarding Flutter Entertainment’s acquisition of the Stars Group. It would have been remiss, said Michaels, not to make reference to the deal.

Citing the market interest around the development, he told the webinar: “Some people are saying this is the first thing to occur. I would say that you’ve seen a lot of these deals be struck really since that day in May when you saw Flutter and Paddy Power Betfair purchase FanDuel Group

“You’ve seen the recent tie up with Caesars and Eldorado and some of the things that are occurring there between the skins, between William Hill and DraftKings. What you’re going to see as we move forward – is that everyone is going to find a competitive edge wherever they can.

“That being said these are really early days in the US market place. We’ve only had this up and running for 17 months. Thirteen states out of the 50 are operational – you’re going to see this grow and evolve.” 

The webinar provided a unique opportunity to look at some market specifics, notably the issue of skins which, according to Michaels, are becoming less common. “As you look at skins overall they’re getting rarer and rarer,” he said. “New Jersey launched three skins. Certainly today there’s more than a dozen different sports betting apps that a New Jersey consumer can access. 

“But as you’re looking at a lot of these newer states that have come online they’re getting rarer and rarer. As such, market access is becoming a tighter and tighter thing. Certainly I’m sure everyone here saw the deal that Penn National Gaming struck a couple of weeks ago with their patchwork quilt of who they’re working with with some of their skins – and even selling skins that they are not even sure are going to exist. 

“This could change as the market place evolves and expands, certainly with Pennsylvania. The state itself had a financial boon from the licenses of each of the casino and online operators that applied for licensure. Could they ultimately say we think we’d get more money by expanding that? Certainly – it will be interesting to see as new states come on line which approaches they’re taking. But the trend we’re seeing is that skins are getting more difficult to come by.”  

Looking further ahead, Feil was quick to emphasize the constantly shifting nature of the US sports wagering sector. “As the market evolves and changes, so too will the state laws and regulations,” she advised. “We’ve already seen a change in New Jersey in terms of what wagers a casino can offer when that casino’s ownership also owns a sports team. 

“So legislators and regulators will be returning to the laws, to the regulations as they become more comfortable with sports betting, as they become more comfortable with mobile sports betting and as they learn more about the industry.”  

She added: “The other thing is that states often turn to sports betting as a way to fix a budget hole. So that was a driving factor in Pennsylvania in 2017. So every time an issue comes up they might look back towards sports betting and see if there are more ways to provide opportunities to different operators and different invested stakeholders.”