USBettingReport recently interviewed iGaming industry expert Sue Schneider seeking her insights, as well as her 2019 predictions for the legalized U.S. sports betting market.
About Sue Schneider:
Sue Schneider is a leading expert on the internet gaming industry which she began monitoring in 1995 as a publisher and events organizer. Her involvement began in 1996 when she co-founded the Interactive Gaming Council and subsequently chaired the organization until 2004 where her efforts were in developing standards for self-regulation and fighting the efforts to ban iGaming. Efforts that over time have proven to be worthwhile.
Years ago, when talk of legalized sports betting in the U.S. started gaining more hype, it seemed to be believed that all the U.S. had to do was turn to Europe for a model to follow, but in actuality, things are not that simple. Can you explain why?
Schneider: Australia and then Europe are probably the most mature markets in terms of regulating sports betting. Actually, many of their regulations are useful. A concentration on player protection is probably the most critical universal part – making sure that the processes are fair and that players will get paid. Age verification is key and goes across all of those regions. One of the things that seems more critical in the U.S. is geo-location, making sure that the player is located in the state where it’s legal. That didn’t used to be as much of an issue in Europe but now that regulation is clearly country by country, they’re more familiar with that there also.
When the federal ban for legalized sports betting in the U.S. was lifted in May 2018, the numbers that were being brought about in terms of states and dollars were a lot to take it. Are the states that have already integrated sports betting getting the returns they had anticipated?
Schneider: No state (other than Nevada) has more than six months experience with sports betting. I think New Jersey learned a hard lesson on predictions of revenues when they rolled out iGaming. However, month by month, there are constant reports of the growing handle in those states which have legalized and subsequent revenues to the states. Even states like Mississippi and Rhode Island that started allowing sports betting without mobile are finding record incremental revenues. And when they add mobile, they may find, like New Jersey did, that mobile accounts for 70 percent of the revenues.
We are seeing a few bumps along the road for various states. One recent example is Michigan when Gov. Snyder vetoed down bills that would have authorized online gambling days before his term ended. Where these types of detours anticipated in the market?
Schneider: When it comes to sports betting, I always thought that I’d never see it legalized in my lifetime. But, as the stars began to align with the growing league acceptance and the persistence of New Jersey (which lost in court six times before they finally won in the Supreme Court), it was a very pleasant surprise when that decision was handed down. There was some conventional wisdom that this might even spur increased legalization of casino games and poker in some states and Michigan seemed to bear that out until the veto. However, the recent reversal of the DoJ Wire Act interpretation has thrown a wrench in those works.
How do you think the states taking a backseat into the legalized sports betting market are going to benefit from doing so?
Schneider: The downside of jumping in early is that there may be mistakes made. The main value in waiting is to see how other innovators efforts work out. One can always learn from the mistakes of others and come up with a better product. But, there’s also the missed income which is an issue for every state clamoring for more revenues.
Expectations for legalized sports betting in the U.S. were like none other in the gaming industry. In actuality, what should the expectations be?
Schneider: In the 90s and early 2000s, the U.S. was the main sports betting market globally as offshore operators benefitted from the restrictions in place here. With subsequent law enforcement crackdowns, most but the most ballsy operators pulled out of the U.S. market. Now that there’s a path to legalization here, the main piece of advice is that this will be a long haul in some of the states. It takes a lot of work to educated state legislators and, frankly, our industry doesn’t have the best track record in coming together for policy advocacy efforts. So keep your expectations in check on the timing for various states to take up a licensing regime.
What about the expectations for the sports betting enthusiasts who were anticipating to have a seamless process in place?
Schneider: If you’re talking about the players, it will continue to roll out state by state so it completely depends upon your location. I would suggest that players become a part of the process. There are various industry publications which track the legislation state by state. So, keep up with that and if you see legislation being introduced in your state, call your representatives or senators. Jump into the fray!
What do you predict 2019 will hold for legalized sports betting in the U.S.?
Schneider: We’re just now beginning the legislative sessions in most states. I would envision that another five to six states will complete the process of legalizing and licensing sports betting activities.