SBC Summit: U.S. Sports Betting Offerings Still in Infancy

For better or worse, the U.S. has a tendency to do things big—sports betting is no different. In the five years since states were given the right to vote on legalization, the sector has exploded. But in terms of product, the market still has a long way to go, according to a recent panel at SBC Summit North America (Photo courtesy of CDC Gaming Reports).

SBC Summit: U.S. Sports Betting Offerings Still in Infancy

A few years ago, key U.S. sports betting executives told LiveScore Group CEO Sam Sadi that what worked in Europe would not be accepted in this country. Instead, U.S. bettors would want to wager on moneylines and teasers and not the complex bets offered in Europe.

Sadi responded, “Give it three months.”

“Once you offer advance betting opportunities and options to the users, they will, of course, take the more modern offerings,” Sadi said Thursday during “Sports Betting, Teams, & Media: Forensic Analysis of Converging Relationships,” a session at the SBC Summit North America at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in New Jersey, per CDC Gaming Reports. “(U.S. sports betting) is very similar to the European propositions.”

While the U.S. sports betting ecosystem is still in its infancy—the five-year anniversary of the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is May 14—there have already been numerous changes.

Tipico VP of Business Development Steve Krombolz pointed out that gaming companies in the U.S. have to deal with individual markets, regulations, and stakeholders “that differ and have changed.”

“The initial phases of the market were heavily focused on the stakeholders being brick-and-mortar casinos,” Krombolz said. “Over time, we’ve seen that shift to professional teams being part of the mix, getting licenses in Arizona (the Arizona Cardinals and BetMGM) and Ohio (including Tipico’s partnership with the Columbus Crew). … It allows you to approach the licensing process and the building of a business in certain markets differently.”

For a sport like NASCAR, however, the entry into sports betting has been on a curve not unlike the tricky ones at some of the sport’s most venerated tracks.

According to NASCAR Managing Director of Sports Betting Joseph Solosky, bettors on races fall into two categories—those who wager “a ton” and those who are likely wagering for the first time. “We have to address both of those types of bettors.”

But the biggest obstacle is finding sportsbooks that understand the nuances of NASCAR and can produce compelling wagering opportunities.

“If you look at some of the books out there that are offering a really good NASCAR product, it’s likely they have someone who knows NASCAR well behind the scenes trading it,” Solosky said. “How do we get to that scale? I think it’s better relationships with data suppliers. Working with innovative data-supply groups, you can build micro-betting markets around NASCAR.”

LiveScore, based in England, has 50 million global users of its app, which delivers results from sports, including soccer, cricket, basketball, tennis, and hockey. It has one million users in the U.S.

Sadi said that because of the rush into the market when widespread sports betting was made available in 2018, “Operators were pressured by capital markets to pursue market share and form alliances.” But when that strategy was in place, Sadi added, there was growth, but no profitability.

“We understand that at the heart of everything you do with media and all the relationships you build with media as a sportsbook operator is efficiency,” Sadi said. “The unit economics have to be there. So, to the question of whether we want to come into the U.S., we have only a million users in the U.S., so coming in with media as an operator doesn’t make sense.

“But it will make sense if the media operator has a wide audience that wants to bring our ecosystem in the U.S. with our brand. That’s the only way the format would make sense.”