The turnaround in attitudes from the professional sports leagues towards legalized sports betting in the US was one of the main topics for discussion during today’s SBC Digital North America conference.
The Nuvei-sponsored panel, part of a track sponsored by Sportradar, addressed how sports organizations are finding their place in the betting ecosystem and the implications of being actively involved in sports betting’s new world order.
Kuljeet Sindhar, Senior Director of International Fantasy & Gaming at the National Basketball Association, explained the volte face from an NBA standpoint, saying: “From our perspective the integrity of the game remains and will always be the most important thing.
“And with the advent of the digital age we recognized that the perceived threats to our game through sports betting were taking place with or without legalized, regulated sports betting in the US.
“All that prohibition was doing was pushing that underground. Once we took that view we became early adopters as the first league to call for legalization of regulated sports betting in the US as a way of protecting the integrity of sport and having a transparent betting market.”
Joseph Solosky, Managing Director of Sports Betting for NASCAR, added: “It’s certainly been a maturation process. I think in 2018 we all knew that this was coming – we just didn’t know exactly when. It was really getting our ducks in a row, figuring out what stakeholders would need to get involved before we could actually get a product up and running.
“And for NASCAR, integrity was the number one priority and actually the first deal that we signed in the sports betting space in 2018-2019 was with Sportradar on the integrity side.”
Echoing those views was Jeff Fernandez, Vice President Business Development and Ventures for the New York Jets. “From an NFL perspective, clearly they’ve taken a measured approach by design, much like Joe and Kuljeet talked about starting with the integrity of the game – the brand and the reputation of the league and of the clubs – and then eventually the concept of commercialization.
“So have we missed out on anything? Perhaps we’ve missed out a little on opportunities in the short-term, but this is a long game and I think the NFL took a thoughtful approach about how they were going to monitor consumer perception. They did a couple of deals with Caesars on the casino side and DraftKings on the fantasy side to really see what the reaction might be from their avid audience.
“They did focus group upon focus group and surveys and really just understood that not everybody views the industry in the same way and it was going to be an education process. So from the commercial side yes, I wish it was a little quicker like the NBA perhaps. But at the end what we are talking about is five, 10, 15 years from now and make sure that we don’t make some of the mistakes that we’ve seen happen in other parts of the world with sports betting.”
Joining Sindhar, Kolosky and Fernandez on the panel were Randy Haynes, Director and Consultant at Miomni, and Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, CEO of Boost. Handling moderating duties was Robert Davidman, Partner at Slapshot Media.
The Industry experts were speaking on the Leaders in Sports Betting Track sponsored by Sportradar at SBC Digital North America, which runs from June 9 to 10, 2021. Get your free ticket by registering at https://sbcevents.com/sbc-digital-north-america/