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Moving target: legal sports betting protects game integrity

By - 28 June 2019

Speaking exclusively with G3, Sara Slane, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs at the American Gaming Association, looks at the opportunities sports betting expansion offers US operators, but also addresses the challenges it creates for regulators, especially with the ongoing threat of federal oversight.

Over the past year, the expansion of legal sports betting across America has brought this popular American activity out of the shadows, increasing consumer protections and enhancing game and bet integrity.

Of course, protecting integrity is not a new priority for the gaming industry. For decades in Nevada, we have worked closely with our partners in the regulatory and sports communities to identify issues and stamp out illicit activity. This effort has successfully relied on cross-sector collaboration, and that’s just what we’re seeing in the new post-PASPA world.

The AGA has worked for years to educate stakeholders across the sports betting ecosystem about the opportunities legal sports betting can bring, and in the short 12 months since the SCOTUS decision, more than 35 commercial partnerships have been created among those companies.

As this trend continues along with the maturing of U.S. sports betting markets, we will remain vigilant in ensuring that this collaboration extends beyond deals and reflects a shared commitment to ensuring consumers engage in sports betting responsibly. That extends beyond gaming companies – whose track record on responsible gaming is long established – to include broadcasters who are now dedicating airtime to betting-focused content, and teams and leagues who have begun to monetise this new opportunity.

And while the country embraces legalised sports betting, we are already a mature market when it comes to oversight. More than 4,000 dedicated public servants regulate gaming across the United States, and legalised sports betting fits squarely into their areas of expertise.

At the time of writing, sports betting is legal in 13 states and the District of Columbia, and the vigilant management of these markets by experienced regulators will ensure that the protections envisioned in a hypothetical legal market just one year ago continue to be realised as the proliferation of legalised sports betting continues to spread across the country.

But that’s not an endorsement for anyone to rush into legalisation. Sports betting was never going to be a panacea to solve budget shortfalls or fan engagement issues. Nor will it, on its own, exponentially grow gross gaming revenues. There is opportunity for everyone – for fans, and sports franchises and gaming entities, too, but we all have a shared obligation to get this right the first time. To enact sensible policies that enable licensed, regulated business to first compete with the illegal market and then drive it out of business. Tremendous progress has been made in the short year of opportunity for states and sovereign tribal nations, and we’re just getting started.

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