One of the highlights of this week’s Sports Innovation Conference created by SeventySix Capital in Philadelphia was a panel discussion on the sports betting industry. Among the panel’s wide-ranging members, a range of subjects and viewpoints are shared, including a mix of traditional casino executives, media leaders, and tech startups and leagues executives.
The panel was chaired by Mike Lombardi, former NFL General Manager and GM Shuffle’s new host on the VSIN network. He was quick to point out that since the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning PASPA and paving the way for the country’s legalised sports betting, it quickly changed the position of the industry in the hands of customers.
“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, chairman of Bet. Works ‘ Strategic Advisory Board and former executive with Sportradar US, said early adopter states such as New Jersey have created a new market environment for industry companies.
“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.”
Much of that creativity is driven by information and the role it will play. Tech startup Shot Tracker provides basketball with sensor-based stats and analysis and has partnerships with several college leagues and the NBA. Davyeon Ross, co-founderand president of the company, 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, Major League Baseball’s Executive Vice President, Esports and New Business Projects, said data will be key to building new product offerings that will reach 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 executive of the casino industry with stops on her resume at MGM Resorts International and the American Gaming Association, echoed the feelings about results, but feels that sports betting is just the tip of the iceberg for what is to come.
“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.”