Sportradar’s Brandt Iden: US states are taking a new approach to mobile betting
Brandt Iden, Head of Government Affairs at Sportradar, shares his perspective on how states that originally only legalized sports betting at the retail level are now starting to reverse the trend to include betting mobile/online. He expects this trend to continue as more and more numbers point to the dominance of mobile/online betting in the US market…
SBC: We are starting to see states like New York and Arkansas turn the tide and add mobile betting options to existing retail offerings. Do you see this trend continuing in other states and do you foresee other states starting to adopt mobile betting early on?
Brandt Iden: Yes, we are starting to see both, that more states are re-examining their originally enacted legislation, as well as states, which have been debating legislation for a few years, are leaning towards incorporating mobile betting into the legislation from the beginning. This year alone, in addition to New York and Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Dakota have all filed legislation or are working through their regulatory agencies to adopt mobile betting. Additionally, states like Minnesota, which have been dominated by tribal gaming and have been debating sports betting legislation for years, are now looking to embrace mobile betting from the start. This is in part due to state legislators and regulators now realizing that the mobile betting offering provides better consumer protection and helps shrink offshore gaming markets by providing consumers with competitive regulated options.
Although the inclusion of mobile betting might seem like an obvious choice to a foreigner, it’s not always that simple. The United States is essentially more than 50 different countries and each jurisdiction has its own unique gaming landscape and stakeholder dynamics. While some jurisdictions have existing physical casinos, others have no casinos or only a state lottery. Sports betting is the new frontier of gaming, which means it’s up to industry leaders like Sportradar to educate policy makers on advances in modern technology that ultimately increase consumer protection. and regulatory oversight of the market.
SBC: Of the states that are currently developing sports betting bills, how are the conversations evolving, if any, regarding the topic of mobile betting?
BI: It’s fantastic to see that the subject of mobile betting is now the starting point in states without any form of legal sports betting. This year, we’re excited about the prospects for expanding sports betting in states like Kansas, Missouri and Massachusetts, all of which offer some form of casino gaming but have yet to embrace sports betting.
We find that policymakers in these states are well aware of the multiple ways to place bets, whether across the border in a legal state or via easily accessible offshore websites. It may seem logical that mobile betting would improve consumer protection and generate additional revenue for the state, but the complexities surrounding mobile betting usually center on one major sticking point: who will have access to a license. Will it be commercial casinos, tribal casinos, lottery retailers, online operators, bars and restaurants or professional sports facilities? This is the question that often prolongs the negotiation process and can lead to legislation being debated over many legislative sessions. While it may seem like a never-ending turf battle, there are plenty of examples from states including Arizona, Louisiana, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, and Ohio, to name a few. a few, where the industry came together to come to an agreement. .
SBC: Other than creating a more convenient experience for consumers, what other benefits do states have that legalize mobile betting?
BI: Mobile betting has many benefits, but the ability of the state to implement strong consumer protections is paramount for all others. When I originally proposed the bill in Michigan, it was because I felt the people in my state needed protection. Using state-of-the-art technology like Sportradar’s Integrity Services, all legal bets can be closely monitored in real time. This intelligence can immediately detect market irregularities and therefore plays a vital role in consumer safety. This information is also an essential part of helping to ensure that consumers are betting responsibly. Even though there are some elements of this that exist in a retail environment, it’s much more closely monitored through technology.
Additionally, the absorption of previous offshore sports betting activity into the regulated market is actively promoted and more seamlessly integrated, when a state offers mobile betting. Absorbing as much betting activity as possible and funneling it under the microscope of regulators increases the likelihood of detecting and thwarting any attempt to fix or corrupt a sporting event.
SBC: One of the stories that sometimes gets lost in New York’s recent success is their sky-high 51% tax rate. Do you believe that other States will copy this model in their own legislation?
BI: It’s definitely something that I think the industry should be looking at, because yes, unfortunately other states are looking at success in New York and saying, “if they can do it there, we can do it here “. We have recently seen Hawaii drafting legislation mandating a 55% tax rate and other states discussing a concept of a 25% or higher rate. While there is no target to achieve, states must consider the long-term implications of these extraordinarily high tax rates and whether they will enable a competitive market. This ultimately comes down to the issue of consumer protection.
The idea is that if tax rates are too high, it will trickle down to sports betting and impact the odds and prizes they can offer consumers. While consumers can get dramatically better odds on offshore sportsbooks, which pay no taxes, legal sportsbooks will find it hard to compete. As an industry, there will be many issues that people will disagree on, but as a collective industry, we should all operate with a common goal: to bring consumers from illegal betting markets to the legal and regulated market. One of the most effective ways to do this is to keep tax rates reasonable.
SBC: As a former Michigan State Representative who helped pass the legalization of sports betting, what advice would you give to states going through this process right now?
BI: There is no magic potion to get legislation across the finish line. However, to any legislator who chooses to move this bill forward, I would recommend that they educate themselves as much as possible. Legislators should strive to be policy experts on the issue. To this end, I recommend adopting best practices from states that have implemented successful models. Legislation that prioritizes consumer protection, enables a competitive marketplace, incorporates the distinct dynamics of tribal gambling (where applicable), provides an appropriate tax rate, and has strong supportive policies for responsible gambling measures . Seeking this type of input from industry experts and promoting successful state models will set you up for legislative victory.