Not everybody is welcoming the new arrivals. There have been grumblings from local employees in the back rooms of Las Vegas casinos. “There’s a lot of animosity against European bookmakers that think they can come in and know US sports,” says a sportsbook employee in Vegas, who described the market entrants as “arrogant”. Another says that when Sport betting app in New Jersey it did not label football “soccer” or call the NFL “American football”. Changes have since been made.
This month, Flutter announced a £10bn tie-up with Stars Group that would, if allowed by regulators, create the world’s largest online gaming company. The prospect of owning two of the strongest brands in the US market was a major driver of the deal, says Flutter’s Mr Jackson.
Members of the Chicago White Sox baseball team who were accused of deliberately losing the 1919 World Series, one of the biggest betting scandals in US history
But the golden opportunity is complicated by what Mr Blandford, now chairman of marketing company Gambling.com, calls “a spaghetti nest of legislation” as each state sets its own idiosyncratic rules.
Mississippi, for instance, allows mobile betting but limited only within casino grounds. New York allows sports betting activities but limited in only three selected casinos. Tennessee, which has no casinos, will be online only but with an upfront licensing fee of $750,000. In Rhode Island, wariness of betting is such that gambling executives have to answer reams of questions including whether they own a gun or get along with their mother-in-law.
Then there are the varied tax rates across the states, from 6.75 per cent in Iowa to 36 per cent of gross gambling revenues in Pennsylvania.
“The [legislators] have recognised that this is a great opportunity to gain additional revenue for the state coffers,” says Bill Miller, president of the American Gaming Association, from his office near the White House, adding that the thriving offshore market is “a common enemy for all”.