Gambling operators have been considered some of the biggest winners of the coronavirus pandemic, as an increasing number of people have been trying to find a distraction from the anxiety and boredom associated with lengthy lockdowns. Although the cancellation of major sporting events and closure of brick-and-mortar casinos and betting shops have put some pressure on the sector, this has been tempered by the increasing number of customers choosing online gambling services.
Specifically, sports betting in the US has an extensive history of ups and downs, mostly because of the many changes brought to state laws, not to mention niche regulations that are sometimes overwhelming. With different US states able to make their own laws, including for gambling, sports betting fans have been pretty much confused whether or not they can gamble on sports, and if yes, where they are able to do that.
The situation changes a few years ago, as the US Supreme Court lifted the long-year ban on sports betting, clearing the way for the new form of gambling and allowing states to individually decide whether to add it to the list of the legal gambling services there.
On the other hand, the new era for sports betting in the US has appeared as a major opportunity for UK gambling companies that have been struggling under the weight of the tightening gambling regulation in the UK.
US Sports Betting Sector Provides UK Gambling Companies with Opportunity for Further Expansion
For years, the UK has been a country featuring quite liberal gambling legislation. However, lately, the local authorities have been reconsidering some of the rules regulating the sector, adopting a tougher stance on the services that have been among the most preferred types of entertainment in the country.
So, at a time when the UK Government and regulatory authorities have been imposing stricter clampdown on the gambling sector, a more relaxed stance of the country across the Atlantic has been seen as a chance for British gambling companies to generate further growth and reach new customers. Some major consolidations in the local gambling sector have taken place, as the operators have decided that joining forces will help them face the difficulties more successfully.
With an increasing number of businesses trying to deal with stricter regulation and fixed-cost increases in the UK, the 2018 decision of the US Supreme Court to open the country’s market to the new form of gambling has been recognized as an opportunity to expand their reach overseas.
According to some researchers, the US sports betting market is expected to more than double its size from $49 billion to $102 billion in the five-year period to 2025. Others doubt that, saying that the more realistic expectations would involve a 20% growth of the country’s sports betting market.
In any case, the market value of the sports betting sector across the Atlantic will continue to increase. But is it possible for UK gambling operators to become the drivers of the expected growth?
US Uses UK Gambling Regulation as Role Model for Future Development
The “maturity” of the UK gambling industry is one of the main reasons why the country is already ahead of the US as far as sports betting is concerned. In terms of the practice which is already a relatively new form of gambling for the US, UK could be used as a role model for American bookmakers.
According to historical data, horse racing has been serving as a major gambling inspiration ever since the 16th century. Then, in the early 18th century, the UK organized a lottery that turned out very popular among local people, and the 19th century brought a whole new level of gambling activities to the country. On the other hand, betting on sports has always been popular among British people, with the English Premier League (EPL) being the main driver in their betting activity since its launch, along with the establishment of online sportsbooks.
In comparison, sports in the US have been and still are highly divided in terms of popularity. Currently, there are four major sports leagues in the country – the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL). All of them have been financially powerful, but have still been unable to generate as much betting revenue as they want to because sports betting is still a relatively new gambling market.
On the other hand, the US has already been looking up to the gambling regulations in the UK, so the legalization of the new form of gambling is undoubtedly a major milestone for the future development of the American gambling market. The process, however, takes time as every state can make its decision individually, and some of them are still unwilling to adopt a more liberal approach to betting regulations.
British Gambling Operators Already Entering US to Establish Presence in the Sports Betting Sector
Sports betting was officially legalized in the US in 2018, which makes the sector basically a brand new market for gambling and sportsbook companies to set foot in. The US sports betting industry is still young but very promising, and the country needs to walk a long way in order to catch up with more advanced sports betting sectors such as the one in the UK, which has been beyond any doubt one of the most advanced, if not the most developed, sportsbook market on a global scale.
UK gambling companies, however, could turn out to be the future of the newly-established sector in the US, bringing not only considerable financial investments but also their long-time expertise to the table.
As mentioned above, with the UK Government and gambling regulators taking a tougher stance on gambling, an increasing number of British gambling companies are seeking expansion elsewhere. The coronavirus pandemic hit them hard, especially the ones that have been preliminary reliant on revenue generated by land-based operations, which made many of them either more oriented towards online gambling services or pushed them to seek further expansion overseas. Although there are still many uncertainties regarding the early-stage market that sports betting is in the US, a range of British gambling companies have already joined forces with some local sports leagues.
US gambling companies are quite inexperienced when it comes to sports betting and online gambling, so many of them are trying to use the experience of British gambling operators, believing it is cheaper to acquire their expertise and technology than develop it from scratch themselves. One of the most significant deals that have been completed in the sector recently was Ceasars Entertainment’s $4-billion acquisition of William Hill. The casino giant has already managed to dispose of the non-US assets of the British gambling operator by recently selling them to 888 Holdings.