There’s no doubt that events over the last 12 months have accelerated a greater appetite for more states to legalise sportsbetting. When it comes to revenue, states across the nation are fast opening up to the windfall available in terms of boosting revenues, as well as providing that all-important entertainment factor, which is arguably more important than ever this summer.
Using March Madness and the Super Bowl earlier this year as a platform for sentiment analysis, we know that betting lines are now becoming a normal part of the conversation for a sporting event. As well as the usual US sports, there’s also a host of new options available, with the Euros and golf, MMA, racing, NASCAR and LatAm soccer as well as the Olympics. Given this, I expect to see another surge in popularity from US players across online.
There are plenty of regulators switching onto this, and at press time, the number of states now getting legalisation bills ready is becoming unprecedented. This summer will likely prove a watershed moment for many states, and it’s going to be far easier for operators to onboard players and take bets.
Hand in hand with that will be a far more advanced and immersive offering as sportsbook and streaming companies merge into one, creating a hugely interactive betting experience that will deliver a Bloomberg style betting ecosystem that will really make players feel like they’re in the driving seat.
Of course, that’s likely still a few months away (although FuboTV in particular is making some really exciting moves in this area). Looking at the here and now, the market is still so young in many respects and there’s so much growth to be had in the US.
Still, less than half the states have legalised sports betting but as players grow in their confidence and market knowledge, we’ll see even more action. Given the commentary around the Super Bowl and March Madness, this will only grow as sports betting becomes more widespread across the nation, and everyone has their eyes on Florida, New York and California. From my ongoing travels, I can promise that when these states go live, you’ll no doubt see betting numbers absolutely skyrocket.
However, there’s one elephant in the room when it comes to the US that still has plenty of space to grow – online casino, and in many ways, it’s still underserved. Despite land-based casinos opening up, I predict that the online space will still have a strong part to play.
If there’s one thing we learned from the downtime of US sports last year is that player habits were markedly similar to Europe in choosing alternative verticals to substitute sport. This is particularly the case for poker and live casino, with US sports fans choosing the live action that resonated well with the gaming types they know and love.
Given that acquisition, there’s plenty of scope for this retention factor to continue this summer’s sport, with so much traffic being driven to newly live operators’ sites. This will enable opportunity for the cross-sell to entice players over to a virtual gaming table, or slots if they’re not going to make it out to a land-based casino.
However, unlike Europe, which saw a serious surge in casino, the difference is that the US is way behind in regulating this area. So far, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan and West Virginia are the only four major states to really cash in on the online casino experience.
While the future of sportsbook across the US this summer is no doubt set for an exciting few months, states such as Colorado, Tennessee and Indiana are going to be left out in the cold from what is a fast-growing and very lucrative area that is proving to resonate very strongly with the US’s famous casino heritage.
With the likes of NetEnt, Evolution, Pariplay and a whole host of other tier-one casino suppliers now ready to take the US by storm, the opportunity to make hay while the sun shines is too good to miss.
There’s plenty of reasons to be positive right now when it comes to the sporting surge this summer. But I urge any operators who are hesitant to expand what they make use of via platforms (whether that’s us or any of our big-name competitors), to jump on board and capitalize on what will be a huge growth area, and a whole new upsell to customers.