A panel discussion on the sports betting industry was one of the highlights of the Sports Innovation Conference produced by SeventySix Capital in Philadelphia this week. A diverse amount of topics and opinions were expressed among the wide ranging representatives on the panel which included a mix of traditional casino executives, media representatives, and executives from tech startups, and leagues.

Mike Lombardi, former NFL General Manager and current host of the GM Shuffle on the VSIN network, hosted the panel. He was quick to point out that since the US Supreme Court’s ruling which overturned PASPA and paved the way for legalized sports betting in the country, it has quickly changed the industry’s place in the eyes of consumers.

“It isn’t this backstreet betting culture any more,” he said. “It’s amazing how quickly this industry has opened up here and isn’t something that can only be talked about in dark corners or in the back of Vegas casinos.” 

Dr Laila Mintas, Chairwoman of the Strategic Advisory Board at Bet.Works and former executive with Sportradar US, said early adopter states like New Jersey have created a new business dynamic for companies in the industry.

“Nevada had a monopoly on sports betting for so long that they didn’t have to innovate,” she said. “New Jersey is forcing operators to be more innovative and companies will disrupt the market.”

Data and the role it will play is driving much of that innovation. Tech startup Shot Tracker brings sensor-based stats and analysis to basketball and has agreements in place with a number of collegiate leagues and the NBA. Davyeon Ross, the firm’s Co-founder and President, said: “The aggregation of data is historical at this point in time in our history. I get excited because I think that space is ripe for disruption.”

Kenny Gersh, Executive Vice President, Gaming and New Business Ventures at Major League Baseball,  said data will be key in creating new product offerings that will engage a new generation of fans. “We have to innovate with games that our fans want to play,” he said. “Offerings that are more fun and geared around getting the casual fan interested.”

Sara Slane, longtime casino industry executive with stops at MGM Resorts International and the American Gaming Association on her resume, echoed the sentiments around data but feels that sports betting is just the tip of the iceberg for what lies ahead. 

“This is an industry that has been focused on the brick-and-mortar casinos and now sports betting is driving the mobile activity,” she told delegates. “It is going to be a massive change for the casino industry. The real money that will be generated will come from online slots.”