The United States will become the world’s top legal sports-betting market within five years, and online wagering will be a major reason for that, a panel of experts agreed Monday at the Global Gaming Expo.

“This will be the biggest game in town, and there won’t be a second,” said Randy Haynes, senior adviser for Miomni, a developer of online sports-betting software headquartered in England.

David Henwood, director of the Manchester-based H2 Gambling Capital, said online sports-betting worldwide is growing at 10 times the rate of retail.

Both spoke at “Sports Betting: A Way Forward in the U.S. and How iGaming Fits In,” a panel discussion which opened the gaming industry’s first sports-betting symposium in the kickoff of G2E 2018 at the Las Vegas Sands Expo and Convention Center.

Other panel members were Art Manteris, vice president of race and sports book operations for Station Casinos, and Keith O’Loughlin, senior vice president for sportsbook and platforms for SG Digital, a division of Scientific Games Corp. Sue Schneider, editor of Gaming Law Review, moderated the discussion.

Henwood said that the amount Americans spent on illegal sports bets in 2017 was even higher than the American Gaming Association’s stated estimates. H2 Gambling Capital took a deeper dive into the numbers and concluded that the illegal U.S. market surpassed $196 billion in bets, and $10 billion in revenue, last year. Illegal sports wagers added up to 40 percent more than all forms of legal gambling on the Las Vegas Strip and were comparable to Apple’s worldwide revenue, H2 found.


Legal sports books will be able to capture only about 43 percent of the illegal market over time, Henwood predicted. The offshore market typically pays no taxes, has few, if any, regulations to follow, and in some cases is operated by organized crime. That can mean the ability to offer better odds and amenities, such as the opportunity to bet with credit cards, he explained.

Over-taxation and over-regulation might make legal sports-betting uncompetitive, Manteris warned.

H2’s analysis predicts that by 2023, legal betting in 20 states will total $4.9 billion, surpassing England, the world’s current leader. Half of that total will come from just three states: California, New York and New Jersey.

The total will grow to $7.6 billion from 25 states by 2030, H2 estimates. If all 50 states offered sports betting, regulated betting would total $24.7 billion.

Schneider noted that sports bettors fall into two broad categories: the mass market and professional gamblers.

Haynes told of running a Greek sportsbook “you’ve never heard of” that had a $1 billion market with a margin of 30 percent.

“It was an indication of how different levels of this market can co-exist,” he said. “The market is very, very big and very interchangeable.”

O’Loughlin said operators must understand what their customers want in order to be successful. Customers might sometimes want the equivalent of fine dining and, at other times, crave something more akin to fast food.

“You’ve got to provide a full experience for your customers,” he said. “Make it easy for them to come back.”

Station’s Manteris, who has been involved in sports book operations for more than 40 years, said the adoption of in-play betting in the United States will differ from the European market because of the pace of play. American football, for example, is faster than cricket or soccer.

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