Marc Pedersen, SBC News Affiliate Correspondent and Head of Sales at Better Collective, recently attended the industry’s two igaming shows in the US – Igaming North America and GIGSE. Here’s what he found out.
What did you discover about the potential, or not, for sports betting in the US market going forward?
Two major topics came to mind. One is fantasy gaming, and second is legislation. Starting with the latter, it is clear that nothing has changed over the past year.
Casino is still far off in terms of new states opening, and it seems the best chance is Pennsylvania in late 2016 but even that might be a long shot. Further to this, if the RAWA (Restoration of America’s Wire Act) passes – we might suffer from a giant setback.
In terms for fantasy, the presence of fantasy sport operators across the two conferences opened my eyes in terms of the fantasy market in the US. Especially in these pre-sportsbetting days, it is a pretty interesting area with 40 million potential customers. Operators were pretty optimistic about the potential value of these players, but I do wonder how this value will develop after the (potential) regulation of sports betting.
However I find it hard to imagine that we will see sports betting anytime soon. The Wire Act still prevents any activity on this front, and should New Jersey succeed in getting approval for sports betting – it will most likely only be in a very scaled down version.
As I said before, fantasy sports combined with horse racing is the closest we are going to get to a sports betting market in the US for now.
Were there any reasons given for the poor performance of the New Jersey igaming market so far?
There were a bunch. One of the main problems was the high decline rate on Visa/Mastercard transactions – which hopefully should be fixed now with the new authorisation codes.
Further to this, I think several affiliates hold responsibility for the low success and penetration. A Google search for e.g. New Jersey online casino would quickly show you a bunch of affiliates promoting illegal casinos. And this leads back to the licensing system of affiliates – by making the process so hard for affiliates to obtain a licence (the entry barrier is high, with little profit to be made) it is hard to get affiliates to promote only regulated casinos.
Finally it also comes down to a marketing failure, as it is only around 40% of the NJ potential players are aware that online gambling is legal in NJ.
What was the best session across the two events?
The GIGSE seminar with Jason Robins of DraftKings, Seth Young of Star Fantasy Leagues and Shergul Arshad of Monodgoal was very interesting to me. It gave really good insight into an industry I had little knowledge on. All three were very skilled and motivated speakers. It was a very good panel.
At iGaming NA – the best session covered the real role of affiliate marketing in the US market – again with qualified panellists, who discussed the necessity of affiliates in this market – and involved audience stakeholders as well. Some see affiliates as a necessary evil, but it seems operators see them as an important tool to educate players on legal online gambling in regulated markets.
Were there any companies exhibiting or speaking that you think we should keep an eye out for in the future?
I would definitely keep an eye on numberFire – these guys really seem to know what they are doing, and they won the start-up session at GIGSE. They provide news and stats on US sports – especially focused for fantasy players. Nik Bonaddio nailed his pitch; it was very well made and secured a unanimous victory winning the votes of all judges and the audience vote too.