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揭密美国体育博彩业竞,好多内幕不为人知

Rey Mashayekhi 2019年04月29日

每年美国人都要花数百亿美元参与体育非法赌博。如今大联盟也想分一杯羹,但魔鬼都藏在细节中。

美国人爱赌大学篮球赛由来已久,今年春天出手更是大方,一花就花了85亿美元。

3月堪称“3月疯狂”,三个星期里,美国大学男子篮球锦标赛(NCAA)出现各种冷门和绝杀球。根据职业介绍公司Challenger,Gray&Christmas的数据,疯狂3月里人们到处下注、填表,办公室里也有很多赌池,员工生产力损失多达133亿美元。

但今年情况有所不同。这是去年5月最高法院推翻联邦体育博彩禁令的重大决定以来第一届NCAA锦标赛。几十年来,根据该禁令只有内华达州的赌场和体育博彩才能合法赌博,也意味着七个州首次迎来体育赌博合法,不必再偷偷摸摸下注,或者专门跑去拉斯维加斯。

美国体育联盟和协会都很清楚该转变的划时代意义。体育博彩概念经历了多年的抵制,现在各方都开始意识其中蕴含的经济潜力。尽管NCAA官方继续反对“各种形式的合法非法体育博彩”,今年1月美国职业体育协会主席马克·埃默特还曾表示,“体育博彩从很多方面威胁到大学体育的诚信”,不过美国职业体育联盟几乎已完全接受新情况。

美国职业篮球赛(NBA)、美国职业棒球大联盟(MLB)、美国曲棍球联盟(NHL)和美国足球大联盟受到商业前景鼓舞,纷纷与米高梅度假村建立官方合作关系,而美国橄榄球联盟(NFL)则宣布了与凯撒娱乐签订的协议。此类商业协议对各大联盟来说只是体育博彩游戏一小部分。如果被问到,他们会解释说利用赌博吸引全国数百万体育粉丝参与互动的机会更重要。

“不管过去还是现在,我们都认为体育博彩是吸引粉丝参与的机会,”NHL首席营收官基思·瓦赫特尔告诉《财富》杂志。“提升参与度是体育博彩的最终目标,追求的并不是短期(赌博)收入。”

简单来说,体育博彩更多意味着收视率和比赛关注提升,也就等于更多钱流入各大联盟金库。根据美国博彩协会(AGA)10月委托进行的研究,合法体育博彩可能为北美四大联盟(NFL、NBA、MLB和NHL)每年贡献42亿美元额外收入,其中大部分收入来自粉丝参与提升,而不是来自体育行业直接产生的收入。

“(联盟)肯定认为博彩可以提升收视率和粉丝参与度。” 米高梅互动游戏公司总裁斯考特·布泰拉说。“他们认为这样一来粉丝与比赛的关系更紧密,看比赛的理由也增加了。”

根据美国赌博协会的数据,每年美国人通过境外博彩网站或非法博彩公司非法下注超过1500亿美元。随着如此巨额资金即将纳入合法渠道,就合法体育博彩业未来如何发展存在争论也并不奇怪。除了联盟本身还有很多利益相关方,各方都有自己的考虑。

有些赌场运营商在州层面具有重大影响力,州政府立法者正制定全国体育博彩法规。业内普遍认为,DraftKings和Fanduel之类移动博彩公司的数字平台代表了行业的未来。当然,不少运动队也已积极准备利用体育博彩带来的商业机会和粉丝参与提升,有些则已付诸实践。

通过采访不同群体的十多人,直观感觉是各方在美国体育博彩业成功合法化方面存在共同的利益。不过,这并非意味着分歧不存在,目前美国各州均有争议,毕竟此举将影响美国体育赌博业未来几十年的发展。

This spring, Americans spent $8.5 billion indulging in a time-honored vice: wagering on college basketball games.

March brought with it “March Madness,” the three-week-long avalanche of upsets and buzzer-beaters that is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And with March Madness comes bets, brackets, office pools, and, of course, lost employee productivity—up to $13.3 billion worth of it, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

But this year, things have been a little different. It was the first NCAA Tournament since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last May to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, which for decades had largely restricted the activity to the casinos and sports books of Nevada. Which means that for the first time, bettors in seven states that have subsequently legalized sports gambling haven’t had to resort to under-the-table wagers—or a trip to Las Vegas—to get in on the action.

The nation’s major sports leagues and associations recognize just how epochal this shift is. After years of opposition to the notion of sports betting, they’ve virtually all now come around to its economic potential. While the NCAA continues to officially oppose “all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering”—which NCAA president Mark Emmert said in January “threaten[s] the integrity of college sports in many ways”—America’s professional sports leagues are almost entirely on board with this new state of affairs.

Buoyed by the commercial possibilities, the likes of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and Major League Soccer have each struck official partnerships with MGM Resorts, while the NFL announced its own deal with Caesars Entertainment. But these commercial agreements represent only a piece of the larger sports betting puzzle for the leagues. Ask them, and they’ll tell you that much more significant is the opportunity to use gambling as a vehicle to draw in, engage and interact with millions of sports fans across the country.

“We always saw, and we still see it, as a fan engagement opportunity,” Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief revenue officer, tells Fortune. “That’s the holy grail of sports betting; it’s not the short-term [gambling] revenue.”

Simply put, more betting on sports means more eyeballs watching and paying attention to those sports, and that equals more money flowing into the leagues’ coffers. According to an October study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA), legal sports betting could result in an additional $4.2 billion in annual revenues for the four major North American sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL)—with the majority of that influx resulting from increased fan engagement with the product, rather than revenue coming directly from the gaming industry.

“I think [the leagues] absolutely view this as something that’s going to increase fan viewership and engagement,” says Scott Butera, MGM’s president of interactive gaming, who is spearheading the company’s sports betting strategy. “They see this as a way of letting fans have some skin in the game, and more reasons to watch a game now.”

According to the AGA, Americans illegally wager more than $150 billion on sports every year, whether through offshore betting sites or illegal bookmakers. With that kind of money potentially up for grabs via legitimate means, it’s no surprise that there’s a debate currently taking place about what the future of the fledgling, legal sports betting industry should look like. Beyond the leagues themselves, there are numerous stakeholders to account for, each with their own objectives.

There are the casino operators that hold significant influence at the state level, where legislators are crafting the nation’s sports betting regulations. There are mobile betting operators like DraftKings and FanDuel, whose digital platforms are widely considered to be the future of the industry. And, of course, there are the sports teams themselves, many of which are either preparing to, or already taking advantage of, the commercial and fan engagement opportunities allowed by sports betting.

Through interviews with more than a dozen people from these various groups, there is a clear sentiment that all parties have a shared, mutual interest in a successful legal sports betting industry in the U.S. But that’s not to say there aren’t disagreements, currently playing out across the country on a state-by-state basis, regarding issues that could shape the future of sports gambling in America for decades to come.

****

(州)政府总是赢家

去年,三大职业体育运动组织NBA、MLB和PGA巡回赛联手游说美国各州立法机构,认为应监管体育博彩,该观点与NFL和NHL截然相反,NFL和NHL在监管环境态度比较宽松。(瓦赫特尔表示,NHL的观点是此时出手强制监管体育博彩“没什么胜算”,而NFL并不打算采取类似游说,针对多次就本文评论的请求也没有回复。)

“最高法院作出判决后,整体情况出现变化,”NBA高级副总裁兼助理总顾问丹·斯皮兰表示, MLB和PGA巡回赛期间斯皮兰负责联盟游说工作。“我们发现不仅可以从商业角度,也能从诚信角度参与(体育比赛)行业。”

某些体育联盟与AGA之类博彩行业团体立场一致,包括支持移动博彩,支持联盟和博彩公司在侦测某些能反映比赛存在“诚信问题”的不规范博彩模式方面展开合作等。

其他提议则被博彩业断然否决。最不受欢迎的概念当属“诚信费”,因为“诚信费”可以让联盟从每场比赛下注收益里得一杯羹。最初NBA、MLB和PGA巡回赛提出了1%的费用,此后调整为每场赌注金额的0.25%。

“我们的球员投入大量时间和精力才能呈现精彩的职业棒球比赛,否则哪有机会去买博彩,” MLB高级副总裁兼副总顾问布赖恩·西利说。“所以应该分给我们一点钱。”

西利为了证明MLB的立场,还列举了联盟赌博监管工作的成本,以及接受体育博彩存在的固有风险。

“如果比赛出现诚信方面的丑闻,可能导致损失数亿美元,”他表示。“棒球对抗体育博彩导致的问题上历史悠久。但凡了解棒球的人都知道皮特·罗斯和黑袜丑闻。”

皮特·罗斯曾是球员和球队经理,1989年被控赌博后禁止再加入大联盟。(后来他在2004年的自传中承认了不当行为)。“黑袜丑闻”是指芝加哥白袜队的8名队员,因在1919年世界系列赛中操纵结果而被禁赛。

The (State) House Always Wins

Last year, the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour teamed up on a lobbying effort targeting state legislatures across the U.S. The three pro sports organizations share ideas that they believe should govern sports betting and stand in contrast to the NFL and NHL, which have taken a more lax approach toward the regulatory environment. (Wachtel said the NHL does not consider it “a winning battle at this point” to dictate sports betting regulations, while the NFL is not pursuing a similar lobbying effort and did not return multiple requests for comment for this story.)

“There’s no question that the world changed after the Supreme Court decision,” says NBA senior vice president and assistant general counsel Dan Spillane, who is leading the league’s lobbying effort alongside the MLB and PGA Tour. “We saw that there is an opportunity to engage with the [gaming] industry, not just from a commercial standpoint but an integrity aspect as well.”

Some of the leagues’ positions are in line with casino industry groups like the AGA, including an embrace of mobile betting and support for cooperation between the leagues and bookmakers on detecting irregular betting patterns that could signal “integrity issues” with certain games and contests.

Other proposals have been flatly shot down by the gaming industry. Perhaps no stance has been less popular than the notion of an “integrity fee,” which would see the leagues get a cut of the revenue from each bet placed on one of their contests. While the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour initially floated the idea of a 1% fee, they’ve since revised their stance to 0.25% of every bet.

“There is no betting on Major League Baseball unless we put on the games and invest a lot of time and effort, as our players do, on putting on compelling contests,” says MLB senior vice president and deputy general counsel Bryan Seeley. “They should have to pay us something for that.”

Seeley also cites the costs of the league’s gambling oversight efforts, and the risks inherent to embracing sports betting, in justifying MLB’s position.

“If we have a scandal regarding the integrity of our game, that could cost us hundreds of millions of dollars,” he says. “Baseball has a long history of fighting against issues related to sports betting. Anyone who’s followed baseball knows about Pete Rose and the Black Sox scandal.”

Pete Rose, a former player and manager, was barred from the MLB in 1989 following allegations of gambling. (He later admitted to them in a 2004 autobiography.) The “Black Sox” refer to eight members of the Chicago White Sox who were banned for fixing the 1919 World Series.

辛辛那提红人队前球员和经理皮特·罗斯,1989年被控赌博后禁止再加入大联盟。图片来源:Karl Gehring—Denver Post via Getty Images

但博彩业几乎无人理会,博彩业称由于商业模式利润低,不可能将收入分给联盟。AGA公共事务高级副总裁萨拉·斯兰表示,最初提议诚信费占每次下注金额1%,将导致博彩公司实际损失高达20%的利润,因为据斯兰透露,每1美元赌注要支付95美分的奖金。

即便将费用降低到0.25%,她也一样反对。“说到底,博彩这行利润很低,”她说。“刮走这笔钱只会影响正规博彩公司与非法博彩竞争的能力。”到目前为止,该问题方面似乎博彩游说团胜出。尽管全国范围内几项体育博彩立法(如上个月在康涅狄格州提出法案)都包括了诚信费用,但均未变成法律。

此外还有其他一些与比赛投注有关的问题,毕竟体育博彩市场庞大且不断增长,而且背后有联赛以及SportRadar和Genius Sports之类体育数据合作伙伴收集的大量数据支持。

“说到底,博彩这行利润很低。”—萨拉·斯兰,美国博彩协会

首先,NBA、MLB和PGA巡回赛都希望博彩公司为官方许可的数据付费。各联盟声称,付费有利于提供最准确也最新的投注数据,也有助于保护花费数百万美元建立的专有数据。

“周四和周五PGA巡回赛中,我们要从拍摄的每张(高尔夫)照片中抓取数据,每天要处理10000张以上照片,” PGA巡回赛副总裁兼助理总顾问大卫·米勒表示。“我们认为,在受监管的市场里,如果有人使用跟踪工具或网络抓取软件将我们收集的数据以极低成本卖给博彩公司,这很不公平。”

此外,联盟为了保护比赛诚信,希望对某些种类的博彩加以限制。“我们希望确保,赌注内容日渐精细时不要出现诚信问题,”西利表示,“一个人想操纵九局棒球比赛当然非常困难,但操纵一次击球情况就容易得多,击球手完全可以控制何时出局。”

米勒说,PGA巡回赛同意该说法,确实有“负面下注”情况,如“赌(高尔夫球手)会打空一杆或将击球距离不到300码”,尤其是“在级别比较低的比赛中”,此类比赛通常奖金池较小,选手也更倾向于操纵比赛。(出于类似原因,西利表示MLB反对小联盟级别的体育博彩。)

不出所料,赌场游说团既不同意规定博彩者购买数据,也不同意就赌注类型施加控制。斯兰说,如果对数据源采取强制将“使(联盟)垄断数据权”,限制博彩公司提供的赌注类型只会“让(投注者)到海外非法(赌博)网站”下注。

她补充说,博彩业已经“投入大量资金”确保投注比赛的真实性不受影响。“如果把奖金给有内幕信息的赢家,博彩公司一样会蒙受损失,”她指出。“发生可疑事件时,对体育联盟不利,对我们同样不是好事。”

Sportradar创始人兼首席执行官卡斯滕·科尔告诉《财富》杂志,虽然“(联盟)想保护比赛的初衷很容易理解”,但强制规定博彩运营商获取数据来源的想法“在自由市场里行不通”。在过去的20年里,SportRadar向世界各地的体育博彩公司提供数据,现在与大多数体育联盟保持着类似合作关系。

关键之处在于,该公司也帮助联盟和当局监控潜在的诚信问题,例如可能反映某种操纵比赛的违规博彩行为。“我知道,体育比赛干净与否方面联盟有利害关系,但博彩公司也一样,不能容许有人利用小型附加赌注影响比赛的纯洁性,”科尔说。

他补充说,关于使用官方数据的争论“不太积极,因为会延缓”许多州启动体育博彩的进度。“希望(联盟和博彩公司)向同一个方向游说。”

与诚信费问题一样,联盟授权使用官方数据并限制某些类型赌注的努力尚未在国家层面形成影响。不过联盟确实已推进到法案层面,该法案去年12月由参议员查尔斯·舒默(纽约州)和时任的参议员奥尔林·哈奇在国会提出。

该法案将成为美国联邦立法管理合法体育博彩业的第一步。不过看起来博彩业会反对,斯兰表示博彩公司将为已在州一级受到严格管制的基础上“多应付一级官僚管制”。事实上,不管是体育联盟、数据提供商、移动博彩公司还是其他行业参与者,基本上都同意这一观点。

But that position garners little sympathy from the gaming industry, which cites its own low-margin business model in ruling out the leagues getting any cut of betting revenues. Sara Slane, the AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs, says that the originally proposed 1% integrity fee on each bet would amount to bookmakers effectively sacrificing up to 20% of their profits—given how bookmakers pay out 95 cents in winnings for every every $1 that is bet, according to Slane.

She also shoots down the notion of a more limited 0.25% fee on bets. “At the end of the day, this is a low-margin business,” she says. “Taking that money off the top hurts our ability to compete with illegal operators.” So far, it appears that the casino lobby is winning on this issue. While integrity fees have been included in several proposed pieces of sports betting legislation across the country (such as a bill introduced in Connecticut last month), they’ve yet to make it into law anywhere.

Then there are other issues that relate to in-play betting—a massive and ever-growing piece of the sports betting market that’s enabled by the vast amount of data collected by the leagues and sports data partners like Sportradar and Genius Sports.

“At the end of the day, this is a low-margin business.” —Sara Slane, American Gaming Association

On the first count, the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour want bookmakers to be required to pay for their official, league-sanctioned data streams. They claim this is important to provide the most accurate, up-to-date betting data for wagers, and also to protect the proprietary data collection operations that they’ve spent millions of dollars to establish.

“We capture data from every single [golf] shot at a PGA Tour event—on a Thursday and Friday, that’s 10,000-plus shots a day,” according to David Miller, a vice president and assistant general counsel for the PGA Tour. “We don’t think it’s fair, in a regulated market, for someone to be able to use a tracking tool or web-scraping device and turn around the data we collected to bookmakers for a fraction of the cost.”

Additionally, as part of their efforts to protect the integrity of their games, the leagues want to see restrictions on certain kinds of wagers. “We want to make sure that, as we get into more granular bets, we don’t encounter integrity issues,” Seeley says. “It’s very difficult for an individual to fix a nine-inning baseball game. It’s a lot easier to fix the next at-bat; a batter is in complete control of when he strikes out.”

Miller says the PGA Tour agrees with that stance when it comes to “negative bets,” such as “a bet that [a golfer will] miss a putt or drive it less than 300 yards”—and particularly “at the lower levels of our sport,” where the winnings are smaller and players are potentially more prone to manipulation. (Likewise, Seeley said MLB is against sports betting at the minor league level.)

Unsurprisingly, the casino lobby is at odds with both a mandate on where bookmakers can buy their data from and what kinds of bets they can take. Slane says such a mandate “enables [the leagues] to have a monopoly over data rights,” while restricting the types of wagers that operators can offer would simply “drive [bettors] to offshore, illegal [gambling] websites” to find certain bets.

She adds that the gaming industry has “just as much invested” in ensuring that the integrity of the contests it takes bets on are not comprised. “When we’re paying out to winners who have insider info, that hurts us just as much,” she notes. “If there’s something suspicious happening, it’s bad for the leagues but it’s also bad for us.”

Carsten Koerl, the founder and CEO of Sportradar, tells Fortune that while it’s “very understandable that [the leagues] want to protect the sport,” the idea that they can dictate where gambling operators can obtain their data from “is not going to work in a free market.” Having provided betting data to sports books around the world over the past two decades, Sportradar now has similar partnerships with most of the major American sports leagues.

Crucially, the company also helps leagues and authorities monitor potential integrity issues, such as betting irregularities that may indicate a contest is fixed in some way. “I understand the leagues have an interest, but betting operators have the same interest that the sport stays clean and nobody is using these small side bets to influence it,” Koerl says.

He adds that the debate over the use of official data “is not very positive, because it will slow down the process” of getting sports betting up and running in many states. “I would like to see that [the leagues and gambling operators] are both lobbying in the same direction.”

Like the integrity fee issue, the leagues’ efforts to mandate the use of official data and restrict certain types of bets have yet to gain much traction at the state level. But they did make it into a bill, proposed in the U.S. Congress in December, by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and then-Sen. Orrin Hatch.

That bill would represent the first piece of federal legislation governing the legal sports betting industry in the U.S. While the gaming industry appears to be against such legislation—Slane said it would “add another level of bureaucracy” for gaming operators already heavily regulated at the state level—the idea is met with virtually unanimous approval among leagues, data providers, mobile betting operators, and other industry participants.

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要么双倍要么输光

在新泽西州纽瓦克市保诚中心,前去观看新泽西魔鬼队比赛的球迷可以参观威廉·希尔运动休闲室,买杯饮料,面前几块屏幕显示着各项体育赛事的最新赔率。虽然没有投注窗口可供个人下注,因为根据新泽西州法律,开班实体博彩店面仍然受到限制,但只要点开博彩公司威廉·希尔的移动体育博彩应用(或根据个人喜好点开任何博彩应用),用手指轻敲下注即可。

“重点是确保球迷来看比赛时享受到独特的关联体验,体育博彩只是补充,” 哈里斯·布利策体育娱乐公司(HBSE)总裁休·韦伯表示,新泽西魔鬼队和保诚中心均在该公司旗下,(公司还有费城76人队和英超水晶宫队)。韦伯指出,如果球迷想下注,连休息室都不用特意去,“在球场座位上就能完成”。

Double or Nothing

At Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., fans attending a New Jersey Devils game can visit the William Hill Sports Lounge, buy a drink, and survey several screens that list the most up-to-date betting odds for any number of sporting events. While there are no betting windows available to take wagers in person—New Jersey law still restricts where you can establish a brick-and-mortar betting operation—all one has to do is flip open bookmaker William Hill’s mobile sports betting app (or any other sports betting app, if they like) and place a wager with the tap of a finger.

“We’ve made it a priority to make sure that when our fans come to the games, they are getting a unique and connective experience, and we saw sports gambling as additive to that,” says Hugh Weber, the president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), the company that owns both the Devils and the Prudential Center (as well as the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace F.C.). As Weber notes, his patrons don’t even have to visit the lounge if they want to place a bet; they can “actually place bets from their seats in the arena.”

2018年12月14日,哈里斯·布利策体育娱乐公司总裁休·韦伯在新泽西州纽瓦克市保诚中心的威廉·希尔运动休闲室发言。图片来源:Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images for William Hill

虽然体育博彩在宾夕法尼亚州已经合法,但移动体育博彩尚未合法,也就是说目前在76人队的主阵地费城还不能通过手机下注。不过,哈里斯·布利策体育娱乐已在保诚中心与凯撒娱乐和体育公司Fanduel达成商业协议,在不管博彩何时何地实现合法,必将在美国各种运动队老板中率先接受。

拥有NHL华盛顿首都队和NBA华盛顿奇才的泰德·莱昂西斯最近宣布,2月华盛顿特区市政委员会投票批准体育博彩合法后,将在球队共享的华盛顿市中心赛场里开设现场博彩站。实时交易软件企业家维微克·拉纳迪夫旗下的萨克拉门托国王队,已在官方应用程序上为球迷提供比赛预测平台。同时,作为相对年轻的企业,大联盟足球由于球迷参与,可能从体育博彩中受益最多。MLS副专员加里·史蒂文森称,目前公司正与新合作伙伴米高梅“开发一款免费游戏”。

尽管全国各地的州级博彩游说团体都表示反对,但体育博彩业大多数人认为,即便目前尚不完善,未来也会是移动体育博彩的天下。一些博彩公司对移动博彩能否推动赌场的流量持保留态度,但一致认为如果合法市场希望多抢占一些非法黑市的份额,此举很有必要。

“这方面我们与联盟观点基本一致,因为他们已经意识到移动是未来发展方向,” 幻想体育公司Fanduel的总裁兼首席运营官基普·莱文表示,最近公司在距费城半小时车程的Valley Forge赌场度假村开设了一家零售体育博彩店。莱文说,预计宾夕法尼亚州将成为“另一个将零售和移动体育博彩结合的州”。

“移动是未来。”—幻想体育公司Fanduel的总裁兼首席运营官基普·莱文

Fanduel和Draftkings掌控了附近新泽西州的移动体育博彩市场,而移动博彩已占据新泽西体育博彩市场的主要市场份额。不过为了顺利开展业务,两家公司都要按法律要求与现有赌场运营商签订许可协议,或者说“搭上联系”。Draftkings对接大西洋城度假村赌场酒店,Fanduel则对接梅多兰赛道和赌场。

对两家以日常幻想体育运营商出名的公司来说,此举只是在长期以来由实体赌场垄断的监管环境中开展业务的成本。

“在任何州,通过赌场发放许可证都没有确凿的理由,”Draftkings的首席风险官兼联合创始人马特·卡利什表示。他指出,公司总部所在的马萨诸塞州已提出体育博彩法,允许移动运营商“直接获得许可证,不用通过赌场。”但卡利什指出,公司对新泽西州的体育博彩法规“相当满意”,并表示“不管通过什么框架只要能开展业务就可以”。

跟FanDuel一样,Draftkings也开设了体育博彩实体店,位于密西西比湾海岸的红宝石赌场度假村。但两家公司也都希望能率先抢占美国移动博彩市场。Draftkings最近宣布与凯撒娱乐达成协议,如此一来在凯撒经营业务的州即可确保Draftkings获得许可证。去年Fanduel与赌场运营商Boyd Gaming达成了类似协议。

对各家由幻想体育转型体育博彩的公司,围绕合法体育博彩具体应如何开展的讨论并不是非黑即白。尽管每家公司都与专业体育联盟建立了合作关系,但并不代表体育博彩必须从联盟购买数据(“我们认为不应写在法规中,应该通过商业谈判达成协议,”莱文表示),也不应通过“诚信费”上交一定比例收入(“我认为大家都不会同意,”卡利什指出)。

但这些公司相信,与美国对体育博彩应如何运作用有发言权的各方一样,共同利益便是让体育博彩业走出黑暗,进入主流。

“他们已经意识到,如果非法市场规模如此之大,那么诚信问题已然存在,而且实际上更糟,”莱文谈到体育联盟为何支持体育博彩时表示。“他们手上有数据,如果发现奇怪的情况,就可以打电话问我们。如果他们遇到问题或者有顾虑,也可以找人帮忙。我们都站在一条船上。”

尽管如此,争论仍将继续。在22个州,体育博彩法案仍悬而未决。

“6月(州)立法会议结束时的局面会非常有趣,”斯兰表示。“届时能看清准确的情势。”(财富中文网)

译者:冯丰

审校:夏林

While sports betting is now legal in Pennsylvania, mobile sports betting is not, which means that similar offerings are not yet on the cards for the 76ers at their home in Philadelphia. But HBSE, which has also struck commercial deals with Caesars and FanDuel at Prudential Center, is among American sports team owners who are ahead of the curve in embracing the possibilities of sports betting, wherever and whenever they’re available.

Ted Leonsis, who owns both the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards, recently announced that he will open a physical on-site sports book at the arena his teams share in downtown Washington, D.C., after the District’s city council voted to legalize sports betting in February. The Sacramento Kings—owned by real-time trading software entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé—have offered fans predictive gaming platforms on the team’s official app. Meanwhile Major League Soccer, as a relatively fledgling enterprise, has perhaps the most to gain from sports betting as a fan engagement tool. It’s currently “developing a free-to-play game” with new partner MGM, according to MLS deputy commissioner Gary Stevenson.

Despite opposition from state gaming lobbies across the country, most people in the sports betting industry agree that mobile sports betting is the way of the future, if not the present. While some gaming operators have expressed reservations about whether mobile betting will drive traffic to their casinos, the consensus is that it’s necessary should the legal market wish to capture the bulk of the illegal, black market’s share.

“We are largely aligned with the leagues around this—they realize that mobile is the future,” says Kip Levin, the president and COO of FanDuel. The fantasy sports company recently opened a retail sports book location at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, located a half-an-hour’s drive outside Philadelphia. Levin says he expects Pennsylvania to be “the next big state with combined retail and mobile” sports betting.

“Mobile is the future.” —Kip Levin, COO, FanDuel

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have dominated the mobile sports betting market in nearby New Jersey, and mobile betting itself has come to represent a majority market share of the overall sports betting market in the Garden State. Yet, in order to do business there, both companies are required by law to agree licenses, or “skins,” with existing casino operators—Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, in DraftKings’ case, and Meadowlands Racetrack and Casino, in the case of FanDuel.

For both companies, which made their names as daily fantasy sports operators, it’s simply the cost of doing business in a regulatory environment that has long been dominated by the brick-and-mortar casinos.

“There’s no firm reason why any state has to run licensing through the casinos,” according to Matt Kalish, the CRO and co-founder of DraftKings, who noted that the company’s home state, Massachusetts, has proposed a sports betting law allowing mobile operators “direct licensing [that] wouldn’t run through a casino.” But Kalish notes that, in New Jersey, the company is “pretty happy” with the state’s sports betting regulations and is “making it work with whatever framework” is provided.

Like FanDuel, DraftKings has also established a physical sports book presence, in its case at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. But both companies are also looking to be ahead of the curve as far as opening up the national mobile betting market; DraftKings recently announced a deal with Caesars that could allow it to acquire licenses in states where the gaming company has a presence, while FanDuel struck a similar agreement with casino operator Boyd Gaming last year.

For each daily fantasy sports-turned-sports betting operator, the issues surrounding the debate over what legal sports betting should look like are not black and white. Though each operator has partnerships with professional sports leagues, it is not tied to the notion that sports books should be mandated to buy data from those leagues (“We don’t think it should be written in a statute; we think it should be a commercial negotiation,” Levin says) or required to hand over a percentage of their revenues via an “integrity fee” (“I don’t think anyone loves the idea,” Kalish notes).

But these companies do believe that, along with all the various parties that are having a say in how sports betting should operate in the U.S., they have a shared interest in bringing the industry out of the darkness and into mainstream.

“They’ve realized that if the illegal market is as big as it is, the integrity issue actually exists today, and it’s actually worse,” Levin says of the sports leagues’ embrace of sports betting. “They have access to the data; if they think there’s something is weird, they can pick up the phone and call us. If they have an issue or a concern, they can reach out. We’re all aligned.”

Nonetheless, the debate will rage on: There are active sports-betting bills pending in 22 states.

“I think it’ll be really interesting to see what happens at the closeout of the [state] legislative sessions in June,” says Slane. “Then we’ll really see what the map looks like.”

 

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