Wrapping up bi-annual legislative meeting from San Diego
Legal Sports Report

NCLGS Wrap: ‘Mobile Is Money’ And Other Sports Betting Observations

Sports betting

The winter meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States attracted more than 40 legislators and 200 attendees to San Diego last week.

Four sports betting panels touched on hot topics including professional leagues’ latest attempts to make money from sports betting, as well as the necessity of mobile wagering.

One consensus seems clear from everyone involved in the panels: there are clearly preferred ways for states to advance as more legalized US sports betting is coming.

Best practices in sports betting: ‘mobile is money’

“Money is mobile, mobile is money,” said John Maloney, principal attorney at John K. Maloney Law.

Maloney and the other members of the best sports betting practices panel generally seemed to favor simplicity for new states.

Main consensus points focused on mobile and the need for an open market if states truly want to drive tax revenue. No mobile just leads to continued business for offshore operators, panel members agreed.

Create competition to make money

Competition equals innovation so remove exclusivity language and don’t try to placate special-interest groups, Maloney urged legislators. He asked legislators to give serious thought to whether their state should have sports betting because it is a “huge responsibility.”

Dan Reaser of law firm Fennemore Craig expects a lot of development this year. That doesn’t include California and Florida because of the politics around sports betting, he said.

Kyle Kirkland, president of the California Gaming Association, agreed with Reaser that California likely won’t happen this year.

There are two potential routes for California this year. One includes a tribal initiative that would ban mobile, which Kirkland called a shortcoming. The CGA represents the state’s cardrooms, which would be shut out by the initiative.

No federal sports betting regulations

Nobody on the five-member panel backed the idea of federal sports betting regulation, though there was discussion over standardized rules. States could get together and come to a set of standards so the federal government doesn’t have to, Sue Schneider of SBC suggested.

But that could lead to a “Frankenlaw” once too many people get their hands on it, Kate Lowenhar-Fisher of Dickinson Wright added. She’s more in favor of adopting the standards of states that are already successful with sports betting, such as Nevada.

It would also help if the federal government got rid of the “stupid Wire Act” so states can do what they want, Lowenhar-Fisher added.

The panel didn’t agree on everything. While Schneider pointed out in-person sports betting account registration as one of the main issues, Reaser suggested it helped with one-time customer confirmation.

Lotteries could work with casinos

It would be beneficial for lotteries and casinos to try to work together on sports betting, Missouri Lottery Executive Director May Scheve Reardon said.

It makes sense Reardon would say that, considering that’s currently a proposal in the state’ senate. SB 567 would give full sports betting operations to the state’s casinos while the lottery would get the right to sell parlays limited to the outcome of games.

The lottery would target the more casual customer at its more than 5,000 retail locations with sports betting kiosks. Conversations have already started with the state’s lottery vendors, IGT and Scientific Games.

Everything is local, right?

When asked about whether there was a concern over those casual bettors all betting on the local teams and winning big, Reardon added that was taken into consideration and is part of the conversation with the two suppliers.

IGT’s Stefano Monterosso was quick to add that parlay payouts are historically lower than single-game betting. Those parlays are less risky and will have less of a swing in payouts, he added.

Howard Glaser of Scientific Games admitted lotteries operating sports betting leads to less competition and diversity for customers. On the other hand, states will keep more of the sports betting revenue from those lottery operations, he said, though that point is debatable.

Mobile helping problem gambling

The amount of data collected by mobile gaming and sports betting can actually improve problem gambling protection, Neale Deeley of Sportradar suggested.

Gambling operators are collecting “everything” when it comes to data, down to the weather when someone placed a bet. But all of those data points means more data to protect gamblers as well, he said.

All the data available makes it easier to target not just the small percentage that actually are problem gamblers. It can help the larger segment of those who are at-risk, he added.

Sportradar’s customer tracking system can pinpoint what kind of gambler someone is within five bets with 95% accuracy. Within 20 bets, that improves to 99.5% accuracy, he added.

SBTech President Melissa Riahei stressed the need for baseline data when it comes to tracking problem gambling. That way gamblers can actually be watched and protected based on their needs instead of arbitrary standards, she said.

League perspective: Official league data helps

It wasn’t surprising to hear “official league data” come up at the panel concerning the leagues’ role in sports betting. That’s the latest spin from the leagues to find a way to get a piece of the sports betting revenue pie.

Some of the more interesting points came from Joe Briggs from the NFL Players Association. He expressed concerns over casinos potentially pushing their gambling business using a player’s likeness without their approval.

He also questioned who actually owns the player’s health data, like live biometrics that are already captured for each player. That could also come down to the trainer knowing specific player data and relaying that information to someone else to place a bet, he suggested.

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- Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.
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