America: the sports gambling gold rush (Part 1)

Estimation the size of this potential market vary wildly. Gambling Compliance, an research firm in gambling industry, values the market at up to $8bn in revenue during the term of 2024. If the American Gaming Association’s $155bn estimation of the illegal sports betting market is accurate, the valuation could be much bigger.

But as with any gold rush, the glut of fortune-seekers makes competition challenging and the depth of the mine is uncertain. European gambling companies last circled the US gambling market more than 15 years ago but had their fingers burnt when several executives being arrested for providing online sports betting into the US from entities bases in the Caribbean.

Mark Blandford, then chief executive of Sportingbet whose chairman Peter Dicks was one of those being captured in 2006, remembers being “totally shocked”. Sportingbet paid US prosecutors $35m to settle the case.

But for newcomers, it seems too good to be true. “It’s a once in a lifetime changing opportunity,” says Jason Robins, chief executive of fantasy sports company DraftKings, which owns the second largest share of sports gambling revenues in New Jersey. 
Since 1990s, Americans who wish to bet on sports in the US have had three options: go to the Las Vegas sportsbooks in Nevada, look for a local bookie in a bar, or bet via offshore websites.

The Supreme Court has fundamentally changed all that. Many in the industry say its 2018 ruling was the wonder work of one man: Dennis Drazin, a New Jersey lawyer who is also head of Monmouth Park racetrack in New Jersey. Looking to increase revenues in the state’s fast-failing horseracing industry, he found out that if Monmouth Park could host a sportsbook, punters would come. Mr Drazin fought a series of legal battles aiming to legalize sports betting in New Jersey on the basis that it should be a decision of the states, rather than the federal government.

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