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Opportunities Abound As Sports Betting Hits The Mainstream

This week we had the privilege to speak with DataArt’s Russell Karp about engaging public into sports betting and getting bettors away from offshore sites.

Russell KarpRussell Karp leads strategic and business development at DataArt’s Media and Entertainment Practice. In his 20+ years of technology and business consulting, Russell has spent the majority of his career focusing on implementing feature-rich, complex media platforms.

He specializes in strategy, solution architecture, managing large scale projects and client relationships, with a focus on sports betting.

Historically, gambling has largely been perceived as controversial at best, and even considered immoral by some. But here we are at the close of 2019 with legalized sports betting exploding across the country. Has public opinion about gambling changed significantly in recent times, or is the practice still commonly viewed as a questionable pastime?

Karp. A recent study conducted by GlobalWebIndex and The Action Network provides a clear answer to the question above with its finding that 75% of Americans aged 21 or older are in support of legalized sports betting. Furthermore, when this research is isolated to sports fans, the number skyrockets to 90%.

Clearly, a high majority of people now consider betting on sports to be a completely acceptable practice.

These statistics mark a major change over the past couple of years. In 2017, a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell found that only 55% of Americans approved of legalized wagering on sporting events. Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling in 2018, National Research Group (NRG) reported that this number had climbed to 60%.

Fast forward to today, and we find that 75% of Americans support legalized sports betting, as was unveiled in the GlobalWebIndex/The Action Network report. Or even as many as 79%, according to recent research commissioned by the American Gaming Association.

Clearly, a high majority of people now consider betting on sports to be a completely acceptable practice. There’s nothing more exhilarating than watching your favorite team play when your money is on the line, resulting in a new world of entertainment opportunities for the sports and media industries to enter the highly lucrative realm of gambling. It’s a dream come true for sports fans and gamblers alike.

Now that legalized sports betting is spreading across the US, how can we sway bettors away from offshore sites?

Karp. There are many advantages for gamblers who choose to leave offshore sites behind to bet locally. For one, American-based markets are entirely legit, thereby allowing sports fans to make wagers without any concerns about the legality of their bets. Furthermore, this guarantees that people won’t have any problems with receiving their winnings while also avoiding the need to have payouts routed through a foreign country.

And what if you have a dispute? Wagers made in the US are governed by regulations that cover all potential scenarios, such as ticket errors and other problems that can occur. Therefore, consumers who are gambling in the US are certain to experience a fair outcome if they run into any issues with their bets.

The emergence of the “casual bettor” marks a monumental change in the world of gambling. It’s essential for the industry to harness the increasingly mainstream nature of betting by developing UX strategies that are designed to appeal to a wide demographic of fans as opposed to only hardcore gamblers.

Although it’s still early in the game, the expectation is that some state-licensed betting operators will build sportsbook lounges that provide free drinks and other amenities to make the gambling experience that much more enjoyable for fans.

Although a large majority of Americans support legalized gambling, should we still consider the importance of marketing this pastime in a responsible manner?

Karp. Of course. In an effort to ensure this practice, the AGA worked with its members to develop guidelines for marketing endeavors in both traditional and digital media. The “Responsible Marketing Code for Sports Wagering” document contains many specific recommendations, such as being careful not to promote underage betting by never using cartoon characters or other messaging styles that would appeal to children. Additionally, the guidelines state that gambling logos shouldn’t be placed on children’s clothing or toys and that advertising should not exist in outlets that are intended for children.

The AGA document also states the need for the promotion of moderation in advertising as well as the inclusion of a toll-free helpline number when possible. The guidelines additionally cover the importance of using standards of “good taste” across all sports betting marketing.

As wagering on sporting events rapidly grows in popularity across the country, are there opportunities for other industries due to sports betting?

Karp. A wide range of industries are well-positioned to benefit greatly from the massive revenue potential in this marketplace. Sports media increasingly embraces the world of betting. And this shift shows no signs of slowing down, with the media industry quickly jumping on board to harness the expansion of gambling on sports to deepen and strengthen fan engagement.

Sports betting is here for us all, and the big winners will be those who adapt to the rapidly changing market to comprehensively understand and embrace the evolving gambling ecosystem

Last December, popular mobile sports app theScore announced its plans to enter the gambling market in the US through a licensing partnership with the operator of the New Jersey-based Monmouth Park Racetrack, Darby Development LLC. This deal marks a monumental shift in our country, as sports betting becomes increasingly mainstream.

Another big move came from ESPN with its first-ever daily show focused entirely on sports wagering. “Daily Wager” provides news, information, and analysis about betting on sporting events, while featuring guest appearances from gambling experts within the one-hour program format.

And if you’re not yet convinced that sports betting has entered the mainstream in the US, the following should do it. Turner Sports, the owner of leading sports content provider Bleacher Report, made a deal with Caesars Entertainment that would have been unimaginable just a couple of years ago. In addition to developing sports betting content, the partnership includes the launch of a new Bleacher Report studio in Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The facility will produce a wide range of gaming-themed programming and editorial content which will be distributed via the platform’s website, social media, and mobile app. And considering the fact that Bleacher Report reaches in excess of 250 million fans across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the potential impact of this partnership is massive.

Sports betting is here for us all, and the big winners will be those who adapt to the rapidly changing market to comprehensively understand and embrace the evolving gambling ecosystem.

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