This week’s interview is with Dr. Laila Mintas who serves as Chairwoman of the Strategic Advisory Board of the omni‐channel sports betting and iGaming platform Bet.Works. We spoke about Bet.Works’ USPs and the current state of legalized sports betting in the U.S.
About Dr. Laila Mintas
Dr. Mintas consult in the sports and technology industry, including the sports betting, digital sports and fan engagement sector, with a focus on the use of emerging technologies and developments. A lawyer by trade, Mintas served as the Deputy President of Sportradar US, and previously the Head of Legal and Head of International Development for FIFA’s Early Warning System and was the first Director of Sports Integrity at CONCACAF.
Today 10 states already have legal sports betting and another 8 are pending, how big a market share do Bet.Works hope have within the next coming years? In which state is the biggest opportunity?
Mintas. Generally speaking, the opportunity depends on a few key factors, such as the size of the population in the particular state and the state’s legislation and regulation.
The most interesting markets are those that have a high population, allow for online sports betting, and allow for in-play sports betting throughout the state, as these products are clearly the future and revenue drivers. While we are still at the very beginning in the US, we can learn that from the experiences of the more mature betting markets, such as in Europe, as well as from other industries in the US for overall trend knowledge.
“It is not possible to simply copy and paste what´s working in other markets around the globe and implement these solutions here”
Bet.Works provides a full turn-key solution for the online sports betting industry, including risk and trading services. We also offer retail solutions that can be deployed on premises of casinos, racetracks, sport areas, etc. As Bet.Works operates an omni-channel solution, the customer experiences a perfect synchronization between the online and retail channels, which allows for a smooth consumer experience.
Part of my work as the Chairwomen of Bet.Works is to offer strategic expertise and advise, and with our new expansion strategy, we plan to be in all significant market segments. With the 18 states that you are referencing, Bet.Works expects to get its fair portion of the marketplace.
There are literally hundreds of license holders in these states and only a handful of suppliers that can meet the needs of this growing industry. Bet.Works is uniquely qualified to offer an end to end complete turnkey solution for any license holder small or large. We look forward to onboarding more partners in the coming months as we will be deploying in more states after our launch with The Score in New Jersey. Through the deal between The Score and Penn National Bet.Works will be in 11 more markets very soon.
You mentioned in an article that Bet.Works’ sportsbook technology will “fill a major void” in the market place – can you expand on that?
Mintas. The US is a very unique market, so it is not possible to simply copy and paste what´s working in other markets around the globe and implement these solutions here. European platform providers have already learned this the hard way.
I am a big fan of Bet.Works because our technology and services are tailor-made solely for the US. Through the unique infrastructure of Bet.Works technology our products and services can easily be adjusted depending on the state legislation. This allows for quick scalability and efficiency.
The teams and the leadership are all based in North America, and more importantly, understand US sports. Most platforms in Europe deal primarily with Soccer which is the sport where fans bet most on while Americans place around 80% of their bets on US sports. Bet.Works risk and trading team is based in Las Vegas, not the UK or Malta, and is led by Jay Rood, who oversaw 13 US sportsbooks for MGM prior to joining Bet.Works. I am not aware of any comparable product in the US market and therefore I believe Bet.Works fills a major void.
Where are the biggest knowledge gaps around new sports betting legislation and what do you think would be the best way to educate customers and operators?
Mintas. As the market is soon to develop, it needs time for the different stakeholders to come up to speed. This is not only true for legislators, regulators, leagues, and teams, but also the end-customer.
As $200bn were bet on sports before the federal ban known as PASPA was repealed, we don’t need to start from scratch educating fans about sports betting. For decades, many Americans were betting sports in off-shore markets. Although we do not have to educate current sports bettors, we do need to achieve two things.
First, we have to educate the sport fans that are new to sports betting and teach them how betting operates. Secondly, we have to convert the off-shore bettors into on-shore bettors. The education of sports fans that are new to betting will only take a matter of time, but the more challenging piece of the puzzle, the conversion, will only happen if the legal offerings can compete with the off-shore offerings, which will depend mostly on the legislation.
Offshore betting still drives significant revenue from American bettors. What is the best way to inform these potential customers of existing, domestic sportsbooks so as to convert them from offshore operators?
Mintas. People tend to forget that the vast majority of the sports betting market is still non-regulated and people in these states keep spending significant money in the off-shore markets where no consumer protection regulations, no anti-addiction policies, and no transparency exists.
“If there are no legal alternatives or the legal sportsbooks do not provide the same products, they will keep playing in off-shore markets”
Non-regulated markets are often used for match manipulations, as they are non-transparent and much more difficult to monitor. It is in the interest of all stakeholders to turn these non-regulated, black markets into regulated, transparent markets as soon as possible.
To convert customers, I don’t believe it is an issue of informing the potential customer about the existing, domestic sportsbooks, but an issue of offering the sports fan an alternative. I don’t think people would choose an off-shore sportsbook over a regulated one if they could choose, but that’s the problem. If there are no legal alternatives or the legal sportsbooks do not provide the same products, they will keep playing in off-shore markets.
In states like Pennsylvania, the betting operators have to pay 36% tax on GGR, which makes it impossible to compete with off-shore markets, where operators do not pay taxes or royalty fee to leagues. The states have to keep this in mind while regulating their territories.
Also, mobile-betting and in-play betting are necessary to convert the bettors. People want to bet anytime and from anywhere. Some states restrict betting to certain premises, such as casinos or race tracks and by doing that, they will be losing the customers that won’t drive to the casino to place a bet when they can continue to bet illegal via their mobile devices while watching the sports for example in the stadiums, sport bars or from home.
What do you think is going to be the next big thing in American sports betting?
Mintas: I have always seen sports betting as a great tool to engage sports fans and to keep them deeply involved in the games. Nowadays, it’s all about creating an exceptional fan experience.
The evolvement of modern technology enables the collection of totally new data sets. I believe that providing tracking data and biometric data to the fans in real-time, while they are watching the games, would significantly enhance the user experience.
These unique insights would encourage more fans to place so-called proposition bets on the performance of their favorite athletes or favorite teams. This new angle would keep fans engaged over a longer period of time and they could even share their opinions via social media channels to discuss with their friends.