Worldwide Lottery


 

The World Lottery Summit (WLS) is held once every two years.  That makes it the most highly anticipated event in the government-gaming industry.  This year was held in Singapore and once again raises the standard of excellence. The keynote speakers, moderators, panelists, the parallel sessions, were all so thoughtful, mind-expanding, and professionally produced.  Jean-Luc Moner-Banet, President of the World Lottery Association (WLA) and Team WLA produced an excellent program, as they do with WLA educational seminars as well.   Visit world-lotteries.org to see the upcoming WLA seminars that are held all around the world.  (also European-lotteries.org, Naspl.org, Asiapacific-lotteries.com, Cibelae.com, and The WLA’s newly appointed executive director Philip Springuel,  was a highly visible presence at the WLS.  It was the perfect venue for Philip to get to know his constituents, get immersed in the issues we face, and be a part of the event that shapes our future.  Welcome, Philip, and please know that we are a family who works together and is always there to support the efforts of everyone to make government-gaming be successful.  We all stand united – the WLA members, the members of all the regional associations, the commercial partners whose dedication is key to our success, media advocates like PGRI, and all stakeholders of government-gaming - in the role of advancing the interests of this industry.

Susan and I went on to visit the uniquely amazing and innovative Hong Kong Jockey Club before coming home to set the agenda for 2017. More on the HKJC, as well as a synopsis of the WLS, to be in the January issue of PGRI Magazine. Next on our international schedule is the Marketing Seminar and the ICE Gaming Show in London the first week of February. Of course, you will also want to check out the seminars that the industry Associations are holding between now and then.

There are a number of stories relating to changes in the whole sports-betting sector. Following focuses on the U.S. market and regulatory issues. But the ways in which new technology, consumer trends that redirect the channel of consumption away from TV and physical stadiums towards online streaming and Mobile, and new game styles like eSports and DFS that confound the whole definition for what constitutes “sports-betting”, are universal, applying everywhere in the world. For instance, it might appear that sports-betting is regulated and taxed in Europe. I would submit, though, that the regulatory frameworks are also becoming obsoleted in Europe by disruptive technologies, consumer trends, new game styles, and the lack of clarity that enables effective enforcement of the laws.

As Watergate source “Deep Throat” admonishes, “Follow the money”. As the amount of money that is illegally bet on sports in the U.S. increases to hundreds of billions of dollars a year, vested interests are under more pressure to regulate the industry and redirect the profits away from criminal elements and channel the proceeds to benefit their own stakeholders. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues being left on the table. And there is an even larger amount that could be harvested by the corporate interests affiliated with professional sports. The National Football League (NFL) is the most profitable sports franchise in the world. The viewership (and commensurate advertising revenues) have declined over the past year for the first time in memory. The powerful AGA (American Gaming Association) has been out-front in formulating and executing the efforts to lobby the federal government to repeal PASPA (the law which allows sports-betting in four U.S. states and prohibits it in the other forty six states).

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval announces that the establishment of William Hill’s eSports Book “is a major step toward ensuring Nevada becomes the e-sports capital of the world.” A sign of how fast the industry is moving, and why regulatory frameworks need to be updated yesterday, is that most of us are still unclear as to what exactly is “eSports”, how it is operated, and the role it is carving out for itself in the market-place! (eSports is the wagering on the outcomes of video-game competitions. Projected to be over $30 billion/year in 3 or 4 years.) We’re still trying to figure out the long-term impact of Daily Fantasy Sports. The two major operators themselves (FanDuel and DraftKings) are just feeling their way in waves of uncertainty that is revealed in the bizarrely vast fluctuations of advertising and record of losing large amounts of money (in 2015, it is estimated that FanDuel lost $137 million and DraftKings lost $280 million!).

Add to this the paradigm-shifting trend for how spectator sports are being ‘consumed’ in general. One reason that is cited for the decline of viewership of NFL games is the migration to digital formats. Less than a year ago, Facebook turned its juggernaut towards sports. For them, it’s not much more than flipping a switch: “With 650 million sports fans, Facebook is now the world’s largest stadium,” writes Steve Kafka, product manager for Facebook Sports Stadium. Rather bit of understatement - try world’s largest stadium times a thousand, world’s largest online connection to sports fans, and clearly able to be the world’s largest anything it chooses to be. With or without Facebook, the future of spectator sports is all about the Smart-Phone. Streaming online content has become the ubiquitous channel for younger sports fans. “Mobile is also where savvy sports marketers are engaging that (mostly) youthful audience, through targeted content and interactive capabilities.”

New Jersey is persisting with its state-sponsored challenge in the courts. So far, the federal courts have declined to over-rule PASPA. "The fundamental legal question presented by these petitions is whether a federal court can, consistent with federalism and dual sovereignty, enjoin a State from passing a law that neither violates the Constitution nor addresses any matter preempted by federal law.” Hopefully, the forces aligning from all different sectors to challenge these laws will produce a more rationale framework that allows states to regulate and tax the sports-betting industry.

And while he has much bigger fish to fry, the movement to regulate sports betting appears to have a fan in U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, whose comment (in years past) on sports betting regulation was ““I’m OK with it, because sports betting is happening anyway.  Regulation is vital to putting the bookies out of business.”




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Public Gaming /Paul Jason - pjason@publicgaming.com   / Susan Jason - sjason@publicgaming.com  /Office Phone - + 425-449-3000