MGM Resorts Head Of Sports Explains eSports v Traditional Sports

If, as some say, sports have helped fill some of the void created by the pandemic-led shutdown of global sports betting activity, what does the future hold for the genre when those mainstream sports come back, as they will inevitably?

Lovell Walker, Head of Sports at MGM Resorts, addressed the question as part of a dedicated sports panel at this week’s SBC Digital Summit North America. He believes all the signs are there for a booming new betting market, even when the wagering options that have been created make their much awaited comeback.

He said: “As an operator, the prospects for it (esports) are really high, primarily because nobody can quite figure it out. And they really don’t want to allocate their resources to figuring it out. The upside is just unknown.

“So if I’m an operator and my competitors are all going after the market that’s going to bet on the NBA, the NFL and PGA – the traditional type of events, why would I try to venture into esports and try to figure that out? Because there are costs associated to that, which is totally understandable and strategically it makes no sense.”

The drawback, Lovell notes, is there’s a whole new market out there. “I am of the opinion that the epsorts bettor is not a traditional sports bettor,” he said. “These two things are separate entities. They eat at different restaurants. One eat sushi and one eat steak.  And nobody’s interested in the sushi right now!”

Education, he added, is the key. “I think that there is an opportunity there. It’s a matter of who wants to take that leap and play in the blue ocean and own the blue ocean and get all the upside that’s associated with being in the blue ocean and wait for everybody else to figure it out once you have that total ownership. So I think the capabilities are there and I think the regulators are open to it.”

Jennifer Roberts, Vice President & General Counsel, GameCo; Ricardo Lopez, Operations Unit Supervisor, Las Vegas Gaming Control Board; Bruce Merati, COO, BC Technologies; Robert Davidman, Partner, Slapshot Media, joined Lovell on the pane which was sponsored by esports insider.