Last month’s annual G2E show—as usual—offered something for everyone.
On the conference side of things, there was no shortage of high-profile perspective on where we are headed in the all-important areas of sports betting, mobile gaming and customer-facing technology. Here’s a sampling of views:
Ernie Stevens, chairman, National Indian Gaming Association
We continue to analyze sports betting and monitor it. I don’t think there’s anyone here who thinks it’s going to make or break our industry. It’s important that people understand that tribal gaming needs to be a part of this industry as sovereign nations, whether it’s sports betting, Internet gaming or wherever it goes. We’ll never operate as individual businesses; we are governments and were governments long before there was ever a U.S. government.
Mark Macarro, chairman, Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians
Whatever comes next in gaming, we need to be part of it and we need to have a sense of control about it so that it doesn’t overtake us. We need to be in the mix… I agree that sports betting won’t make or break us, but what happens to any game that becomes mobile? In the quest to legalize that game, if the legislation isn’t careful enough, putting tribes in the forefront, it could evolve quickly into mobile gaming. If that happens, it could potentially be a disaster. We have a lot of tribal leaders in California who worry about that and are insisting on language that will prevent that from happening.
Melanie Benjamin, chief executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Indians
Any time there’s talk of expansion, that’s something of concern to us. Through the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, the tribes got together and said we would not support any expansion of gaming in the state of Minnesota and we have since reinforced that resolution. Currently, we do not believe the state of Minnesota should legalize sports betting. When you think about it, there are many stakeholders. There are not only tribes, you have the state, some racetracks, pulltabs… what kind of revenue is that going to bring to the state of Minnesota and to the tribes? We’re looking right now at data that says it will result in a 4.5 percent increase in gaming revenue and we don’t to see benefits from that. We’re waiting and seeing what will happen in the next year.
Bill Miller, president and chief executive officer, American Gaming Association
We pushed hard to overturn PASPA because we understand the benefits of the legal, transparent, regulated sports betting market and the dangers of the pervasive, predatory, illegal offshore market. These criminal enterprises fund other criminal activity, taking advantage of the vulnerable, creating massive problems for law enforcement. We will continue to work closely with our partners in the law enforcement and regulatory communities to identify bad actors, hold illegal operators accountable and stamp out illegal gambling. But we want to raise the bar even higher. We’re going to make sports betting the showcase of our industry’s commitment to responsible gaming... Since the Court’s ruling, more than 60 commercial partnerships have been formed between gaming companies and newcomers to our business: leagues, teams, arenas. All of these partners understand there’s a great opportunity. They do not fully appreciate the responsibility that they have, but we’re going to make sure that they do.
Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor, who led the fight to overturn PASPA
Mobile is the future. I’ll just tell you about my 26-year-old son [and his friends]… They literally do not carry cash; they do everything digitally in their lives. They know no other way. They do their banking digitally. They don’t have ATM cards, they use a debit card and have Apple Pay. And if you don’t make mobile easy and accessible, they will not bet. To give you an example, in New Jersey, we put no barriers up for mobile participation except this one, which was to protect our brick-and-mortar casinos: If you wanted to run a mobile sports betting operation, you needed to partner with an existing casino licensee. That way you make sure that your existing casino licensees that have invested billions of dollars in Atlantic City for 40 years are going to be in this for sure and they are going to have access to some great new cutting-edge technology if they don’t want to develop it themselves.