US sports betting’s long and winding road

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Don’t get bogged down in the day-to-day politics of American sports betting, writes Neale Deeley, VP of sales at Sportradar. The direction of travel is clear, he says the industry needs to keep the faith and maintain a long-term view.

The regulation of gambling in whatever form is never a straight path. In any given jurisdiction, gambling is a part of public policy and, as such, its operation is destined to be very much affected by the actions of the politicians and the authorities.
Never is this more the case than in the US where at the start of January the reverse on the part of the Department of Justice (DoJ) regarding the applicability of the Wire Act to online gambling truly threw the cat among the state-by-state regulatory pigeons.
Strictly speaking, the new opinion from the DoJ – and it is only an opinion as yet and not law – will have more impact on the potential for interstate poker liquidity sharing and potentially lotteries than it will on the progress of regulated sports betting.
Still, as many commentators have already stated, it is likely to have some- thing of an anaesthetising affect; potential state legislators will feel less pressured to get moving on any proposals and those plans that are already in train will likely face more scrutiny.
Yet the decision of the Supreme Court last May that said it was up to each individual state to decide its own position on sports betting still holds. We are not back at square one and sports betting will continue its path towards regulation in many more states in the coming years.
Indeed, I would argue that it was the decision emanating from New York in the same week to limit the regulation of sports betting to land-based venues and explicitly ignore mobile that will have more impact on the sports-betting sector.
That decision shows more precisely how the sector will need to argue its case on a state-by-state basis for the optimum solutions to get sports-betting up and running. It is this type of battle that will need to be won if the sector is to make true progress.
But what both news items do demonstrate is that the road to expanded sports-betting opportunities in the US will be, as the song says, a long and winding road.
The direction of travel is clearly positive and, when seen from the perspective of this time last year, it is clear that progress has been made. Here I would also cite the unexpected news from Hawaii that it is looking at the potential for sports betting to become the first ever form of legalised gaming in the state.
But there will be road- blocks and these will be inextricably tied up with politics.


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