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  5. Between the Lines – American Gaming Report – May 2024
Authored by Adam Candee

Catena Media is offering North America gambling industry insights via Adam Candee, Editor-In-Chief of Legal Sports Report. Catena will offer Candee's in-depth look at the US industry every month with trends and news in regulation, legalization and the companies involved in the space.

If you find yourself in a conversation about the US sports betting and iGaming industries, there should never be a shortage of discussion topics. Of course, you might need to choose your topics carefully if you want to keep the chat civil. Certain subjects will raise eyebrows and hairs on the back of necks, depending on your audience.

Here’s a quick tour through some of the talk around spicier topics right now:

Legal Sports Report: What's the Limit for Sportsbooks?

If you need a guaranteed social-media firestarter among sports bettors and industry insiders, start a discussion about limits.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission attempted to do just that - in real life, of course - Wednesday at a roundtable forum. But the wind quickly fell from its sails when all of the active sports betting licensees in the Bay State declined to take part, citing privacy concerns.

Some of the operators have discussed philosophies around limiting or banning certain players in the past. DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said in 2021,“This is an entertainment activity. People who are doing this for profit are not the players we want.”

As LSR reporter Mike Mazzeo observed after watching the meeting:

Bally’s was the only operator to attend. Granted, it has not yet gone live in the Bay State, with plans to launch in Massachusetts in late June.

One industry source summed up what transpired Tuesday to LSR.

“Probably a pretty good indication of how much clout the industry views the commission as having,” the person said.

The limits discourse rarely changes: sharper bettors bemoan their inability to get down the action they want and sportsbooks assert their right to take the wagers they want while turning down the rest. There are few divergences and even fewer neutral parties, as the MGC found out the hard way this week.

PlayUSA: Record iGaming Revenue, But a Broken Record on Expansion

Across the floor of this month’s SBC North America convention in New Jersey, sports betting talk gave way to raves and rants about iGaming and its stunted expansion beyond its current states in the US.

The most recent revenue figures released by the American Gaming Association highlight why the product many long saw as the endgame for operators pushing for legal online sports betting is so eagerly sought:

The $1.98 billion GGR from iGaming during the first quarter was a 26.1% increase from the first three months a year ago.

Rhode Island’s mid-March entry into the online casino market was good for $1.2 million in Gross Gaming Revenue (GGR). All six states that offered iGaming coming into the new year — New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Delaware, West Virginia, and Connecticut — set a quarterly revenue record during the first quarter.

Revenue from online casinos reached its largest share of the US commercial gaming market. During the first quarter, iGaming took a record 29.3% share of commercial gaming revenue.

Despite those lofty figures, iGaming legislation has made little progress to date in 2024. It appears none of the states considering expanding their casino markets into the online space will complete their journey this year.

That reality generated much-frustrated discussion at SBC, as industry observers noted the similarly barren field for new sports betting legalization in the US this year.

PlayNY: Sports Betting Ad Restriction Bill Getting a Tune-Up

Another certain talker among anyone with a TV and so much as a passing interest in sports is sportsbook advertising, which could face an uncertain future if a bill floating around Congress gains traction.

New York Rep. Paul Tonko continues to refine his SAFE Bet Act, a bill designed to curb sports betting advertising during live sporting events and restrict the use of artificial intelligence by US operators. The bill drew immediate reaction from industry lobbyists who noted its far-reaching consequences, reaction that Tonko seemed keenly aware would arrive after he revealed his initial draft:

“We put a framework out, now we are wordsmithing it,” Tonko said recently at an event in Saratoga Springs. “We are networking with folks to make certain we get (the SAFE Bet Act) exactly as we intended.”

Tonko went a step farther in attempting to assuage concerns from the sports betting industry, saying, “We’re not looking to outlaw gambling.”

The bill faces at best a challenging path through a divided House and generally paralyzed US Congress, a road made even more perilous by the looming 2024 election. It is highly unlikely the legislation receives serious consideration before 2025, but it certainly begs for attention and input from operators and problem gambling advocates with the knowledge and expertise to provide informed feedback.


About the author

Adam Candee

Adam Candee is the Editor-In-Chief of Legal Sports Report. He joined LSR in April 2018, just a month before the dawn of today’s US sports betting industry.

Adam earned national and regional awards as a newspaper reporter at the Las Vegas Sun and Arizona Daily Sun for breaking news, feature, and opinion writing. His team at KLAS-TV earned the Edward R. Murrow Award as the best television news website in the country in 2013. Adam also is a two-time Arizona sports columnist of the year and a Golf Writers Association of America honoree.

A proud graduate of Northern Arizona University, Adam also volunteers as an editor for Kiva, a non-profit that specializes in microfinance in underprivileged parts of the world.