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Volume 27 No. 35
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SBJ Unpacks: Consultant Sara Slane On Sports Betting Impact

The sports betting industry’s rapid growth has been temporarily slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the revenue it generates could provide key relief to leagues and state governments once leagues resume play. On the most recent episode of “SBJ Unpacks -- Weathering COVID-19,” our Bill King is joined by sports betting consultant Sara Slane to discuss the impact the virus is having on the sports betting landscape.

On how the state-by-state spread of sports betting will slow or accelerate based on the impact COVID-19 is having on state budgets:
Slane: You do have some states that disproportionately rely on gaming revenue, like Nevada. I think about 50% of the revenue that goes in the state coffers every month is from gaming, and what’s happening right now is devastating. ... Be it sports betting or online casino, and the rapid pace at which that has been moving, I do think that this certainly will push states to move forward. While it may not be the panacea for solving any state budget, I think the incremental revenue certainly helps.

On what conversations leagues are having about the importance of sports betting once leagues restart without fans in venues:
Slane: Where are you going to make up that revenue if you’re not getting it through ticket sales, or you’re not getting it through slot machines in a brick and mortar location? I think the natural sort of transaction to occur then would be something that would happen through a mobile platform. Any team or any league that has not started to think about that will be behind the curve. … Sports betting has always been viewed as the greatest fan engagement tool out there for teams and leagues to take advantage of.

On the lasting impact betting on the NFL Draft will have between the league and gaming operators:
Slane: This will obviously set new records as far as the amount of money being wagered on the event. As far as the technical components are concerned, I’m sure there will be some hiccups. We’re all learning. We’re all trying to figure this out. What this does is it drives more of that partnership between the league and the gaming operators. The NFL has launched a couple of free-to-play games with their partners through ESPN, Caesars, DraftKings and Fox, so that’s a great opportunity to acclimate and acquire new customers while they’re watching the draft.