Will Las Vegas Be The Template For U.S. In-Stadia Sports Betting?

Posted By Chops on March 16, 2018 - Last Updated on March 19, 2018

When it comes to gambling, the United States doesn’t exactly have a track record of getting it right. Working in the industry has produced more of these moments than these.

However, domestic sports leagues are increasingly supporting the legalization of sports betting. So much so, that the inevitability of legalized sports betting seems, well, inevitable.

As previously discussed, betting on things makes it more fun. Las Vegas is in an immediate position to level up this with In-Stadia Betting.

What is In-Stadia Betting?

In short, In-Stadia is ultimately about increasing fan engagement with bets. An operator/team creates special social bets live at the event that you’re watching – that can be cashed out at the event – on stuff that may happen during the event. For football, the operator/venue may have a, “Will Derek Carr throw a touchdown pass in the red zone.” For soccer, “Will Carlos Alvarez receive a yellow card.”

The reality is the revenue may not equal the social and content marketing potential at first. However, as the sports viewing experience at home continues to improve, it’s becoming more critical to create unique experiences for fans at live events.

Golden Knights Fan Experience: Betting is Better

The expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights hockey team is making a name for itself both on the ice and in the arena. The team has been historically successful for an expansion team. And the fan experience is already noted to be among the best in the NHL.

Part of that reason seems to be that fans, both of the Golden Knights and of visiting teams, are betting on the games.

Hockey, like the NBA, has some progressive ownership with a more morally casual view of sports betting. Owners like the Washington Capitals’ Ted Leonsis own part of Sportradar. There’s a vested interest.

Las Vegas Lights FC Could Set In-Stadia Template

Las Vegas Lights FC is a new professional soccer league that began play at Cashman Field in February 2018.  They’re a member of the United Soccer League, a second division league with 35 clubs in the U.S. and Canada.  They claim Zappos as a sponsor and have what can best be described as the sport’s most interesting uniform choices.

The Golden Knights have demonstrated how the proximity of gambling can enhance the fan experience. European soccer certainly has provided a template for In-Stadia betting. Can the Lights integrate the two? Owner of the team, Brett Lashbrook, seems to think so.

“Without any doubt,” Lashbrook told TheLines. “Both myself and the entire Lights FC organization completely and fully believes that in-stadia betting enhances the overall fan experience. This is especially true now that the State of Nevada has approved mobile betting – it’s a true game changer. Every fan now can legally wager on the match without leaving their seat in the stadium.”

Issues Abound with In-Stadia

While the opportunity to create content and an enhanced fan experience are certainly drivers to launch In-Stadia betting, there are plenty of issues. A chronic problem all venues face is insufficient bandwidth. People be Snapchatting.  Outside of South Korea (more on this in a minute), it’s a regular issue for operators.

Lashbrook thinks it’s not an insurmountable obstacle though. “I am confident that solutions can be found if all third-parties are equally incentivized.  We are the greatest country in the world – do you really think we’re going to let a wi-fi issue at an outdoor venue stop us?”


Will the Leagues Work Together? Does it Matter?

Lashbrook said that while the Lights have sound relationships with the Golden Knights and Raiders, there haven’t been a concerted effort yet to band forces and work together for an In-Stadia solution.

However, one avenue that may make more sense is a Korean favorite: barbeque esports.

The Luxor Esports Arena opens on March 22. Caesars has plans to launch their own esports venture, potentially leveraging the in-house knowledge of their World Series of Poker as a model.

The infrastructure to support the activity and connectivity of a highly engaged and generally younger fan-base, like with esports, could prove a welcome model for the Lights (and eventually Golden Knights and Raiders).

Esports is open for action in Las Vegas. Live betting on esports has been a maturing market since iSeries Live first tried it back in 2012-13. In-Stadia is the next and most sensible evolutionary step.

The good news is professional sports league kumbaya-ing may not even matter. As Lashbrook noted, “The State and city [of Las Vegas] have been nothing but supportive of our efforts to increase in-stadia betting.  It’s yet another unique point of difference between us and the rest of the country.”

When will it happen? As Asia would say

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Steve “Chops” Preiss has 15 years of experience in the gaming industry. Chops began writing and producing content for digital media sites during the early poker-boom years. He has twice been voted by his peers as one of the 20 Most Influential People in Poker. Chops has also written and produced segments for a primetime gaming TV show on Versus (now NBC Sports Network) and distributed a poker program to over 160M global households.

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