Jeevan Jeyaratnam, COO at Abelson Odds, tells iNTERGAMINGi what elements he believes are the most exciting in the ever-evolving world of US sports and data technology
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What is new in the world of US Sports?
Currently, we have excitement over a potentially revolutionary, US designed betting app, Sporttrade, interest from an SG Digital platform/asset sale, evolution with the news that fixed odds horse racing wagering will debut in New Jersey, and exasperation at the lack of responsible gaming measures.
Sporttrade, led by the approachable Alex Kane, are promising to revolutionise how a US audience approaches sports betting. In an ambitious pitch they have revealed a stock market style trading approach to wagers, treating them like CFDs.
It is clear from the early promotional material that the UI and UX is very slick, as are promises regarding liquidity and market availability. A recent fundraising round has attracted $36M of new investment from some noteworthy trading and investment firms.
It’s been more than two-and-a-half years since the Supreme Court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, which states have you found to be the most responsive to the change?
With New Jersey revenues now exceeding those of Nevada, it is fair to claim that the state at the vanguard of the repeal of PASPA, is leading the pack. Colorado is another that seem to have evaluated the different approaches seen so far, and cherry picked many of the best ones.
Indiana is another state that is poised to do well from its fair and robust sports betting regulations. Indiana’s neighbour, Michigan, is a large state that is set to benefit from its adoption of online sports betting coupled with fair taxation rates.
Which currently untapped states do you feel have the most potential for incorporating sports betting and why?
The obvious ones are New York and Florida. New York has passed regulation, with the market set to launch before the end of 2021. New York’s adoption will likely hit revenues in New Jersey as that state has benefited greatly from New York’s transient business.
Florida is more complex and, arguably, more interesting. The big blocker, until now, has been the Seminole Native Indian tribe’s deal with the state. They have enjoyed exclusivity in offering sports betting in the Sunshine State but a new deal has been agreed with the tribe, which will provide opportunities for outsiders, it is awaiting federal review.
How are companies balancing the adherence to regulations while ensuring a smooth customer onboarding experience?
A number of states have taken rather outmoded approaches to customer signups. Illinois, being a good (bad) example; when the law was signed the rules stipulated that signups had to be done in-person. That regulation was only waived because of covid. It is bizarre to think but covid has actually boosted the state’s taxable revenue by millions of dollars by allowing online registration.
The result of each state deciding its own regulations has caused headaches for operators attempting to become compliant, each state must be treated as new territory or country, and the costs dictate that the potential addressable market for that state warrants the level of investment to get up and running.
Which elements of the industry do you think are progressing the fastest, and conversely, which do you feel are in need of speeding up?
Given the number of European-led operators in the US it is perhaps no surprise, but the speed of the evolutionary process of markets, from totals and handicaps to fully blown European-style bet builders is pretty startling. The industry in the US is getting closer and closer to the current European model, but in a fraction of the time.
Single game parlays (bet builders) and prop. bets are really starting to capture the interest of the recreational US punter. Conversely, this path will upset many of the old-school pros who want to be able to bet $25,000+ on a total; that simply isn’t the model that will prove most profitable.
Circa Sports is pretty much on its own in this regard. They are attempting to bring a high turnover/low margin approach by trying to accommodate winning punters, and buck the trend. They have had some success in Nevada and have recently pushed into Colorado. I very much hope they have success but it looks a tough model to replicate around the country.
I’m led to believe that much of the pain for operators is down to the payments side of transactions. I think a lot of work needs to be done, perhaps national infrastructure will be helped with cash from President Biden’s stimulus plan.
Where do you see US Sports in five years?
The offshore sports books that have traditionally prospered because of the country’s prohibition on sports betting are the bigger losers. Bovada, one of the biggest offshore books recently said it would stop taking bets from New York because of the regulations. The writing looks on the wall for many of these operations.
It’s impossible to gauge what the industry looks like in five years, such is the pace of progress but I predict that there will be a huge wake-up call with regards to responsible gambling. Some of the adverts/social media posts would be deeply frowned upon in the UK. America will wake up to this in the same way that UK operators have had to. The industry does not need a Sackler family style scandal.
I also believe that professional US sports teams are likely to have far more control over what happens with their betting data, and will begin to use their leverage to increase engagement, that is until realisation hits that the lack of concern for responsible gambling has forced the industry back underground as media and sports clubs look to distance themselves from the betting industry.
What are your company’s plans for innovation in the coming months and what products should customers be getting excited about?
Though not US focussed we have a very exciting product to launch into the market in the first few months of the new European soccer season. Player Incident Pricing & Settlement (PIPS) is our latest data feed. Designed in combination with sports intelligence firm, Twenty First Group, we are sure it will prove a very popular option for operators looking for a more refined player props solution for bet builders and sportsbooks.
Wagering on player shots/tackles/passes has become an exciting addition for operators and we believe our experience and skill in handling player markets puts us in a great position to be a market leader in this niche.