This week we got the chance to chat with Frank Ignatius, President & Founder of USA Sports Gaming, who this week announced a partnership between Indianapolis-based Spectacle Entertainment, owner of Majestic Star Casino in Gary in Indiana, and BetIndiana, the latest addition to Ignatius’ list of Bet brands.
Indiana sports betting launched on September 1st this year and USA Sports Gaming have been quick to act. They won’t stop here, though, and we are likely to see USA Sports Gaming’s portfolio grow over the coming years as more states are legalizing sports betting.
“We are making plans to operate in several other markets around the country, as more and more states legalize sports betting” said Ignatius in a public statemented on Monday – so watch this space.
What made you decide to venture into the U.S. sports wagering market?
Ignatius. The appetite for sports betting in America is massive, and we knew that the decision by the Supreme Court would open the door for sports betting companies to take advantage of this huge market. Most of the experts said that this industry would be dominated by established casino brands. We completely disagreed with that idea, as this market will be almost exclusively mobile betting.
We realized that we are competing to sell a mobile app, not a casino experience. And therefore, we felt confident that a sports betting company with good technology could compete with anyone in this market.
In which other states do you see the best opportunities for U.S. sports wagering during the next few years?
Ignatius. We are keeping an eye on all of the states that are legalizing sports betting, and we would be open to doing business anywhere in the country. At this point, it looks like Colorado and Tennessee will be next to go live. And our goal from the beginning has been to operate in Illinois, so we are hopeful that they get their regulations completed soon, so we can pursue an Illinois license.
How close do you feel Illinois is to passing sports wagering legislation? Do you already have a partner in mind for your BetChicago brand?
Ignatius. We have met with casinos and racetracks in Illinois, dating back to early in 2018. Additionally, the sports stadiums are also part of the equation in Illinois, and we have been in touch with most of those groups as well.
When states are reporting that more than 85% of all handle is coming via mobile and online, it is hard to justify a big investment in brick and mortar sportsbooks.
It seems likely that Illinois will produce a trailer bill this Fall (or next Spring) that could fundamentally change the landscape of their sports betting rules. Once that is done, we will have a much clearer vision of how, when, and where in Illinois, which will give us firmer ground on which to negotiate an appropriate deal.
BetIndianaNews.com is a novel way to support an online sportsbook, what led to that idea and how do you see the two complementing each other?
Ignatius. BetIndianaNews is actually the second iteration of our content site. We launched BetChicago back in May of 2018 and have been producing really interesting sports betting content there for more than a year. We employ all of our own writers, and they do an excellent job of summarizing the world of sports betting in a way that appeals to both the experienced bettor as well as the novice.
BetIndianaNews has the same mission, but emphasizes the Indiana teams in its articles. Because it is a newly legalized market, we feel that an informational site for Indiana is a great way to introduce people to betting and provide them with all the data they need to better understand this new pastime.
Do you plan on opening retail sportsbooks at some point down the road, or will you focus on online sports wagering exclusively?
Ignatius. We are open to the idea of operating a retail location, depending on the needs of our partners. However, the trend is for this product to be consumed via mobile devices and I feel that retail sports betting might become less and less relevant in the future. When states are reporting that more than 85% of all handle is coming via mobile and online, it is hard to justify a big investment in brick and mortar sportsbooks.