What’s next for online sports betting in the US?

Neil Erlick, EVP Business Development

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) 2018 took place in Las Vegas last month, and once again this proved to be one of the most insightful four days in the gaming calendar.

Traditionally G2E is a conference that’s dominated by land-based gaming, due to its location in Vegas and the make-up of the US gambling market. However unsurprisingly all the buzz this year surrounded digital gaming, and sports betting in particular; following the repeal of PASPA the industry is awash with anticipation as to how the individual state markets in the US are going to evolve and what that might mean for operators and suppliers.

These were some of the key themes being discussed at the conference:

The buzz around sports betting isn’t dying down

It’s now been several months since the repeal of PASPA in the Supreme Court, and with only seven states including Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware (where sports betting is already up and running) currently having passed state law to permit sports betting, you could be forgiven for assuming that some of the wind has been taken out of the industry’s sails.

However, this is far from the case. Belief that the market is going to accelerate its growth in 2019 and beyond is unshakeable, and this is supported by the fact that there has been legislative activity in another 22 states, with Rhode Island and New York leading the race to become the next state to pass a sports betting bill. Pennsylvania has handed out its first sports betting licenses but no bets have been placed as of yet; though the industry rollout is expected to take place later this year.

Paysafe has been keeping track of these regulation efforts and will be publishing its guide to state-by-state sports betting legislation expected in 2019 next month.

The consensus at G2E was that momentum was building behind the opening of more state markets in the US, rather than falling away. Much of that confidence stems from a belief in consumer appetite for the product. This begins with the acknowledgment that the entry and legalization of daily fantasy sports operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel to test the water have demonstrated a clear willingness to embrace wagering on sports in the US; both operators are valued over a billion dollars due to the size of their player bases and latest research suggests there is heavy crossover between this audience and people that would place traditional sports betting wagers.  

Other indicators of the potential size of the US sports betting market is the estimated annual value of the bets taken in the US currently, which is believed to be in the range of $50bn-60bn, and comparisons to the UK sports betting market, where consumer appetite for sports betting and disposable income to do so is believed to be equitable.  

While falling short of the $150bn per year previously mooted, this calculation suggests the size of the US sports betting market would be as large as $67bn in bets taken today, within the $50bn-$150bn range most commentators predict. This figure, combined with projection for growth, could drive operator revenue to $5.2bn by 2023, or even surpass $6bn, according to gambling research and consulting firm Eilers & Krejcik Gaming.

Online operators from all over the globe have their eyes on the US

With up to $5bn in revenue on the table annually within the next five years, it is of little surprise that operators from across the globe are taking a close look at how, when, and where they want to enter the market. Currently online land-based casino operators are being awarded licenses to offer sports betting in-person or online and this looks unlikely to change even as new markets open up; but online European operators see potential to leverage their established history and experience of running successful online sports betting platforms and carve a significant market share through casino partnerships.

Despite the universal desire to enter the market, each operator is taking its own approach to doing this, and at different paces. William Hill was the first operator to take land-based bets in New Jersey and has continued rolling out a partnership with casinos in other states, with 888sport, SG Digital, GVC, and Stars Group following suit. bet365 has also signed a deal to enter the market in New Jersey but is yet to launch.

DraftKings was actually the first operator to take an online sports bet in New Jersey, through its DraftKings sportsbook app. Paysafe is the payment processor for DraftKings and facilitated those first bets.

Paddy Power Betfair, the largest online gambling company in the world by market cap, already had sports betting market presence in the US through its horse racing exchange in New Jersey, but has further strengthened its position through the acquisition of FanDuel earlier this year.

Payments will be a key differentiator in a crowded market

Operators are also strategizing how to find a foothold and develop market share once they have launched in the face of such intense competition; sports betting platforms are homogenous in many aspects which makes a crowded marketplace even more difficult to succeed in.

One area where an operator can stand apart from its competition online will be its payment offering. For consumers, this means making deposits and withdrawals in as smooth a way as possible and having the flexibility to do so using the method that most suits them. 

The experience of operators in regulated markets in Europe, where multiple deposit methods are standard, will play a crucial role here. Successful sports betting operations in European markets enable account holders to deposit onto the platform using whichever method they find most convenient and secure; this may be via a digital wallet, or a cash replacement system or voucher as well as by debit or credit card. This approach has already been successful in regulated US iGaming markets such as online casinos and will undoubtedly underpin the most compelling propositions in sports betting.

And multiple payment methods offered by a partner with experience in regulated gaming markets carries another benefit; it provides players with a secondary option to deposit if their first choice is unavailable. As the industry continues to roll out in each state following legislation, the complexity of the evolving market means that secondary payment options will play a critical role in player acquisition.

Partnering with Paysafe in the US sports betting industry

As one of the few payment companies in the industry catering to both consumers and operators, we are in the unique position to develop innovative products that not only provide value and growth opportunities to local and global businesses, but also offer choices to consumers in terms of how and when they pay. Crucially, we have the unique ability to connect the millions of consumers that use our proprietary solutions around the world with the thousands of merchants that we empower with payment products and services.

Our deep experience in global regulated markets and proven success with provincial lotteries in Canada, state lotteries in the US and regulated iGaming jurisdictions in the US and Europe for over a decade has led us to continuously enhance and tailor our service and product offering. Through a single platform, US iGaming operators receive connectivity to best-in-class payment service providers, and customizable, cutting edge reporting for seamless reconciliation. 

We offer all-in-one comprehensive support that includes Credit/Debit (Acquiring), ACH (eCheck), Risk Services, PCI DSS Compliance, Prepaid Cards, Digital Wallets (NETELLER and Skrill), Cash Vouchers (paysafecard), Affiliate Marketing Experience (Income Access), and Mobile.

To discover more about Paysafe’s end-to-end solution in the iGaming industry, and our experience in helping online gaming businesses grow in Europe and the US, visit our website.






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