One of the largest gaming conferences in the world – the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) is taking place in Las Vegas this week. Since this is the first time the gaming industry has come together as a whole in the United States since the repeal of PASPA, it is no surprise that the topic everyone wants to discuss is the future of online sports betting in the country. In past years, the highlight of this show has been the unveiling of the newest branded slot machines (and of course all the sights and sounds of Las Vegas). This year, all eyes are on sports betting. Here are some early highlights of what has taken place.
A New Sports Betting Symposium
After PASPA was repealed, the organizers of G2E scrambled to add as manysports betting content to the agenda as possible. Theend result was the Sports Betting Symposium, a 3-daytrack that features several lectures and discussions on the topic. Everything from a review of what has worked in states like New Jersey to the future of sports betting at tribal casinos is on the table, and by the sizes of the crowds packed into the sessions, it is fair to say that everyone is lining up to figure out how to get their piece of the pie.
While there are other education tracks that covercasino, bingo and other forms of gambling, the sports betting sessions have been far and away the most attended. On Tuesday, the panel that was meant to discuss the future of sports betting for the Tribal casinos turned into a blow-by-blow account of how regulation came to be in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Both David Rebuck, the Director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming and Entertainment and Susan Hensel, the Director of Licensing for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, captivated the audience with every word.Both states are clearly relishing the role of earlyadopter, and the rest of the states are likely going to be asking for advice from these two states moving forward.
Everyone seems to have sports betting products
While the majority of the announcements in sports betting in the U.S. recently have involved only a handful of companies like William Hill, Draft Kings, andFanDuel, there are a lot of folks trying to peddle their wares to potential licensees. A tour of the exhibit hall revealed over 20 companies with sports betting platforms of one form or another. Add in all the ancillary business, andyou are left wondering if they need to change the theme of this conference to sports from a casinoin the future. Every booth that we visited was hopping with traffic, with operators new to sports betting looking in awe at demos of lines being moved, and all the different user interfaces that are on display.
A lot of hype, but still missing some answers
Listening to each of the sessions that have taken place, one common question is being asked:
When will sports betting be legal in (insert state here).
Of course, most of the panelists cannot answer that question accurately. However, that doesn’t seem to be stopping operators from preparing for what theyhope will be a gold rush of activity. There will certainly be many deals struck on the conference floor, even if launching sports betting at some properties won’t happen for months or even years to come.
William Hill are the rockstars of this show
With all the news about William Hill in the regulated sports betting market in the U.S. since the repeal of PASPA, their representatives are definitely walking around with chests puffed out. Joe Asher, the head of William Hill U.S.A., was recognizedfor the work he has done by receiving the award for American Executiveof the Year at the annual Global Gaming Awards on Monday night.
Casino Isn’t Dead
Now, let’s get something clear here – G2E is still very much a casino conference. The exhibit hall is covered by slot machines, new table game variants, andall the peripheral products that a land-based casino could ever need. With sports betting sucking most of the oxygen out of the room this year, it may be a much slower time for the casino game manufacturers, but in many cases,operators will still need to increase casino revenues while they wait for the white knight of sports betting. As long as there are physical casinos, there will be a need for product, and from what we have seen, there are some exciting innovations comingto casino floors across the country.
With two more full days of G2E to come, there will no doubt be more news to discuss, so check back for a full recap of the event at the end of the week.