Charles Cohen, IGT PlayDigital Vice President Sports Betting, talks exclusively to SBC Americas about the next 12 months in US sports wagering. Tribal gaming and technology, he predicts, will be among the key factors that see sports betting become an industry in its own right in 2020.

If you all thought 2019 was an exciting time for sports betting, then buckle up, because 2020 promises more action both on the field and behind the scenes as our industry continues to develop at a frantic pace. Here are some of our top predictions for the coming year.

First, 2020 will be the year of tribal sports betting. 2019 solidified a good start in a few states, with trailblazers like Pearl River showing the tremendous potential benefits to tribal properties, their customers and their people. Tribes across the country are looking at these successes, examining their compacts, calling their marketing teams and architects, and taking the temperature in their communities and surrounding states.

Tribal gaming represents the largest segment of gaming in the US. These are serious business people with long-term vision. In 2020, tribal operations may well come to define what US-wide sports betting looks like.

Second, the adoption of self-service betting technology, especially on devices that enable in-play wagering, will continue to gain popularity among players. In a way, this is a generational shift away from the traditional way of selling sports bets exclusively face-to-face at the window.

That will still continue, but self-service technology which exists in the rest of our lives is now making its way into the new generation of sportsbooks on US casino floors.

The success that we have seen with technology such as the PlaySports kiosks found at FanDuel sportsbooks and at more than two dozen other gaming venues across the US, and the in-play-focused CrystalBetting terminal shows not only that players love these options, they reward books with more visitation, more dollars, and more engagement. Better still – counter bets generally don’t drop! 

Finally, 2020 could possibly go down as the year a single state achieves a $1bn handle month. Nevada and New Jersey are often neck-and-neck when the numbers come in. I don’t have a prediction as to which state will achieve it first, but I am betting on 2020. This will be a major milestone for everyone. It will firmly announce that we have arrived, not as a business, but as an industry.