There has been no shortage of industry events aimed at providing much needed insight into the forming U.S. sports wagering industry. ICE Sports Betting Conference USA, which took place this past November in New York City, was one such gathering. What follows are some speaker highlights from the conference portion of this show:
James Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, on integrity fees and dealing with sports leagues: “We are paying for league data. We sat down with the various leagues for several months… and evaluated what kind of partnership we could bring to the table that could be of benefit for both of us. Right up front we said we were not interested in paying an integrity fee, and that we are actually offended by that concept. It is disturbing to us because our whole business model is based on integrity… we don’t feel like we need to pay a fee for what we do every single day.
“But we are willing to pay—and pay well—for data, sponsorships and co-branding. So each of our three deals [with professional leagues] are slightly different, but all have these same concepts.”
Jason Robbins, CEO, DraftKings, on converting fantasy players to live sports bettors: “A little over 40 percent of our daily fantasy players in New Jersey have used the sports betting app since September 1 and made bets. This is actually lower than I thought it would be… but maybe my expectations were too ambitious. I thought there was more overlap, which I think there still is, but what I am learning is that peoples’ habits are still sticky. In addition, it is taking more time to convert people over from the black market then one might have thought.
“I personally like betting on both sports and fantasy, but prefer fantasy sports. It is like anything else… there are different entertainment activities that people chose. What we want is to have decent products that have good overlap among our customers so you get good crossover. We feel we have that, but there is absolutely a segment of the audience that prefers one versus the other and there is a segment that loves both and will continue to play both.”
Sharon Otterman, chief marketing officer, William Hill USA, on the value of data from sports leagues: “We think there is a lot of value in having the official league data, but we think there is a need for it not to be the only data source. The challenge for us is that if there is a monopoly in this space, it really hurts our pricing to consumers. Sports betting has a very low margin; a lot of big numbers get reported, but when you really do the math on how much a sportsbook makes, it is a very small margin. The more we take out of that due to unfair pricing across all the places we can get data, the consumer gets hurt at the end of the day.”