Sportsbook in the Spotlight
THE CHANGING CASINO SPORTSBOOK ECOSYSTEM
A typical big Strip casino in Vegas (there are 23 of them) accepts about $60 million in bets at their sportsbooks annually, profiting $3.2 million. There are 197 sportsbooks in all.
Of the $4.3 billion bet on sports last year in Nevada, 37% was on football, 28% on basketball and 17% on baseball.
The growth is solid—it’s doubled since 2003.
But this is still peanuts compared to slot machines, which bring in 30 times the revenue and profit.
And slot machines’ popularity has never recovered to its 2007 highs.
Only 4% of first-time visitors to Las Vegas say their primary reason for coming is to gamble.
ORGANIZED CRIME IS AT THE CENTER OF THE DEBATE OVER THE LEGALIZATION OF SPORTS BETTING.
Organized crime’s revenue stream can be cut off by channeling sports betting to legal, licensed operators.
In the UK, fans bet $12.3 billion legally in 2015, contributing $2.2 billion to government coffers.
Legal betting habituates the fans to gambling, then illegal operators recruit the bettors with improved odds or spreads. In its most recent crackdown on illegal gambling dens, INTERPOL conducted 4,000 raids, arresting 4,100 people in 11 countries across Europe and Asia.
Match Fixing Scandals
Few Americans are aware of how prevalent match-fixing scandals are.
68 different match-fixing scandals have been discovered in the last three years, some of which are single-game scandals (a Wimbledon player declaring a bribe attempt), others of which were more pervasive—affecting 15 soccer games in Korea, 19 in Turkey.
An ongoing Europol investigation into a syndicate out of Singapore has revealed bribes in 15 different countries on soccer—including a Champions League game played in England, and qualifiers for both the World Cup and Euros. 700 games are under investigation. 50 people have been arrested; 425 additional team officials, referees and players are under suspicion.
Because bets are placed in one country on games played in another country, the most globalized sports are the most vulnerable—soccer, cricket, tennis and soon, basketball.
PRO LEAGUES’ NEW PARTNERS
Preparing for the era of convergence, pro leagues are making investments and cementing relationships with technology companies that play a role in the betting ecosystem.
NBA & NUMBERFIRE, which uses algorithms to make recommended bets on pro sports.
NFL & SPORTSRADAR, which provides real-time statistics to bookmakers.
MLB & SPORTIM, whose parent company provides software for bookmakers.
HOW SPORTS BETTING COULD BECOME LEGAL IN THE US
Sports betting gets legalized by transforming into something that looks and feels a lot more like fantasy sports.
Daily fantasy plays the role in the process that medical marijuana did, softening people’s preconceptions of betting as a black-market business.
States already run lotteries; in many other countries, sports betting is nationalized. The most common form is sports toto, in which you have to pick all the winners on any given day or weekend—a hybrid of fantasy, gambling and the lottery.
Savvy politicians who don’t want sports teams leaving town will realize that a sports toto game can fund construction of a new stadium. Much like with marijuana, the legality changes state by state.