With the fifth anniversary of PASPA’s overturning mere days away, three of the leading executives in the sports betting industry took to the stage at SBC Summit North America in Secaucus, New Jersey, this week for a discussion about … the future of online casinos.
Adam Greenblatt, the CEO of BetMGM, Christian Genetski, the president of FanDuel, and Richard Schwartz, the CEO of Rush Street Interactive, were, to a man, bullish on the future of iCasino, despite it currently only being legal in six states (New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, West Virginia, and Delaware.)
“Look at the numbers — they don’t lie,” said Schwartz during a panel discussion moderated by Yaniv Sherman, the CEO of Bragg Gaming. “In all the markets we have casino and sports betting, about 75% of the revenue comes from online casino. It’s real, it’s not in the shadows, and there is clearly an opportunity to grow and to be profitable due to the benefits of that category.”
Genetski said the braintrust at FanDuel, which started strictly as a daily fantasy site, is thinking along the same lines.
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“Within our business, when we think about the future, we spend as much time on iGaming as we do sports betting,” he said. “We know longer term it’s going to be critical as to what we’re trying to achieve.”
As for Greenblatt?
“From the get-go, gaming was essential for us,” he said. “One doesn’t overshadow the other.”
Online casino expansion
Legalized online casino play in America is barely out of the newborn stage. With only six states on board, the runway is long – and it’s certainly not clear of dangers. But if you ask these three, it’s certainly a question of “when,” not “if,” state-sanctioned iCasino will expand its U.S. footprint.
“I think we’re getting to a point now where we’ll start seeing more expansion,” Genetski said. “There are a number of states where there is already legalized sports betting, states learning how to regulate gaming online, and they have land-based casinos and have seen the tax benefits. I think you’ll see those states start to come around. We’ve had good progress in Indiana, Iowa, even New York this year. We’re preparing for it, and think it’s coming in the next couple of years.”
On the #GambleOn podcast, @SenJoeAddabbo addresses online casino gambling legalization in New York:
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But even with that, Genetski concedes that the whims and whispers of state governments play an outsized role in whether online casino laws pass. And, in many cases, he believes it’s going to come down to the almighty dollar.
“The first and second priorities from states when they look at legalizing iGaming is the revenue picture,” he said. “In a time when state budgets are crunched and they are looking for new sources of revenue that don’t involve raising taxes on the individual taxpayers, iGaming becomes far more attractive than when state budgets are flush.”
He also noted the simple act of state legislative “sausage-making” may be responsible for the slow adoption of iCasino, noting that state legislatures generally work for a short amount of time and it can take years for any one lawmaker to get their pet bills across the finish line. In short, sometimes you just have to wait your turn.
Lead or get left in the dust
As for the gambling companies themselves, Greenblatt said some are being very proactive when it comes to the future of online casinos, while he believes those that aren’t will be left in the dust.
“It’s a tale of two halves, and they’re not halves,” Greenblatt said. “You have the more progressive, more forward-looking land-based gaming companies recognizing this is a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ and they’d rather get on the bus than get left behind. Will there be losers as we pursue a new technology-faced future? For sure. It’s going to happen.”
But Greenblatt is equally convinced the companies that are jumping in now will reap many benefits in the long run.
“I’m a free marketeer,” he said “I believe, long term, that free markets will prevail and distortions to that cannot persist. As long as we address concerns as an industry around prosperity, player protection, and responsible gaming, I think the macros will support the widespread adoption of iGaming, particularly because of tax benefits, which benefit the whole state.”
Photo: Jeff Edelstein