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Wanted: A Quarterback for Legalization Of U.S. Sports Betting
August 12, 2015

Wanted: A Quarterback for Legalization Of U.S. Sports Betting

By: Jeff Ifrah

*This piece first appeared on the site on August 11, 2015

Welcome to one of the biggest business opportunities on Planet Earth: legalized sports betting in the United States, the land of the free and the home of 200 million sports fans.

It hasn’t happened yet, but odds are, it will.

And when it does, the overwhelming spoils will go to licensed and law abiding actors already in the United States, companies like Amaya and Unikrn.

The timing is right to tackle the legalization of sports betting in the United States. U.S. and state senators, including John McCain (R-AZ) and Ray Lesniak (D-Elizabeth, N.J.) are in support. Internet gaming is gathering speed in state-by-state legalization and the commissioner of a major league — the NBA — has come out in support of legalized sports betting.

The campaign to legalize sports betting will be successful if it is led by an industry insider who understands how to do legal betting well and who has experience working with legislators, leagues, players and opponents.

There are plenty of powerful interests in favor of sports betting — both inside the U.S. and out of it. What is needed now is a leader — a quarterback — to come onto the stage, to coalesce the players onto a strong team and then call the plays.

This game will play out primarily in the U.S. Congress, although buy-in from other major leagues will be critical to the ultimate legalization of sports betting.

My colleagues and I at our firm have been scouting for decades, looking for superstar operators and that phenom leader to successfully bring sports betting to the fans.

We’ve studied the game film and gone over the stats:

  • The legal sports-betting market in Europe alone was estimated at €4.0 billion(approximately $4.4 billion) in 2013, with the worldwide revenues for unregulated sports bets estimated at anywhere from $140 billion to $700 billion.
  • In 2012, wagering activities (i.e. sports betting) made up 53% of all online gaming.
  • Gross win from online sports betting reached about 15.5 billion U.S. dollars (11.5 billion euros) in 2012.
  • Estimates put the potential value of the sports betting industry at between 700 billion U.S. dollars and 1,000 billion U.S. dollars.
  • The burgeoning eSports industry, which is also not available in the U.S., has been valued at an incredible $612 million.

We’ve also thought about the winning plays. We know there needs to be the formation of an industry trade association made of up sports betting operators and affiliates who can promote and protect the industry.

What’s more, access by fans has to be both user-friendly and secure.

These plays, and others in our master playbook, are the keys to converting the majority of off-shore sports betting to the U.S. market and scoring a touchdown for operators, shareholders, regulators and, of course, the fans.

A lot of sports-minded Americans are looking for a leader — send us your nominations for the No. 1 draft pick via Twitter.

Jeff Ifrah

Jeff leverages his decades of experience in sports betting and gambling law to advise startups in the eSports space, including both real money and skill-based p2p competition sites, on compliance with both state and federal law. His clients in the sports betting arena include FanDuel, Delaware North, Sportradar, Bet365, Playtech, and Worldpay.