It’s safe to say that 2018 was about as good of a year for sports betting in the U.S. as it could get (Assuming you like sports betting, which if you’re reading this site, it is a safe assumption.).
Can 2019 be better?
Here are 10 bold predictions for the new year. In short, expect more of what made 2018 great.
10. No less than nine states pass sports betting legislation
Why not start with one of the biggest ones?
Of all the states that have introduced sports betting bills, no less than nine will pass legislation in 2019. New York, Massachusetts, and Kentucky (via a Churchill Downs push) will lead the way, and these states should follow.
9. But California won’t be one of them
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me 147 times, shame on me.
Whoever can finally get the competing California gaming interests to get on the same page needs to work on Palestinian-Israeli relations. The online poker push in California had many starts and stops thanks to card rooms, tribes, tracks and operators never getting on the same page.
The sports betting revenue pie exceeds online poker’s revenue greatly, and there’s real progress being made in the state legislature, but don’t expect California to pass a bill until 2020.
8. The next non-golf, made-for-betting event will be esports
The Match provided the template. Where can it go from there?
They’ll partner with an esports team, draw large viewing from a live stream and draw bettors in-house for real-time wagering on their mobile device.
7. ‘In-stadia’ betting gains momentum
On that note, “in-stadia” betting will gain steam. It won’t just be from whatever smart casino employs in-stadia betting for their esports event.
Las Vegas has shown the way, with the Knights and Lights bringing mobile betting into the arena/pitch.
As other states pass sports betting bills, teams will recognize the enormous potential for fan engagement with in-stadia betting. This won’t be a revenue mover for teams, necessarily, but will provide fans with new content and ways to interact during games.
6. Fiat-to-crypto onboarding solved
The single biggest impediment to crypto adoption on gambling platforms is the fiat-to-crypto onboarding process. There’s a bridge needed for the gap between gambling and crypto enthusiasts.
This issue will be solved in 2019, paving the way for holders to fund gaming accounts with cryptocurrency on a broader scale and more extensive adoption.
5. The NCAA takes a hardline stance
If there’s one potential glaring monkey wrench to trip up sports betting in the U.S., it’s in the college ranks.
The NCAA is rightfully concerned. While professional athletes have too much at stake, in most cases, to be persuaded in bribes or providing confidential information, that’s not the case with unpaid student-athletes.
Expect the NCAA to draw a line in the sand on this issue…
4. … and propose some form of revenue sharing
The model to use gambling as a means of subsidizing education isn’t new. The state of Georgia has used lottery proceeds to fund college scholarships going back to the early ’90s. While the NCAA should take a hardline stance, expect discussions around positive use of sports betting proceeds to further educational opportunities (via scholarships) this year.
3. But don’t expect athlete compensation to be discussed
OK; this isn’t very bold. But that’s not happening.
2. The NFL gets on the integrity fee wagon
The NFL is consistently progressive in making changes and adapting. That has not been the case when it comes to sports betting, as the NBA and Adam Silver have been real advocates and drivers there.
However, that will begin to change in 2019.
The NFL is ruthless in its efficiency in squeezing a dollar out of any and every opportunity, and it’s not going to let the sports betting rocket ship go into orbit without taking a seat in the cockpit with the other leagues. Look for the NFL to push for the most apparent monetization play, integrity fees, in 2019.
1. New Jersey eclipses Nevada in total wagers
We’re going super bold on the last one, as New Jersey has a ways to go still, but hear this out.
New Jersey has a unique pocket of singularly owning the northeast. The northeast is a sports fanatic hotbed, and the total population around New Jersey (when including just New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland and Delaware) is approximately 39.5 million. That equals the approximate 39 million visitors to Las Vegas a year.