Over the past two weeks the CalvinAyre.com crew and I went from Las Vegas to San Francisco and covered US-facing iGaming conferences iGaming North America and GiGse, respectively.
The proximity of the dates of these two events was a concern for some and if two weeks was too long to spend out of the office, they were forced to make a choice. For us, the proximity was a convenience as it meant one long haul flight to the West Coast from London as opposed to two separate trips, so there were certainly some pros and cons with the timing.
Next year the organizers have put some space between the two conferences with iGaming North America scheduled for April 5-7 in Las Vegas and GiGse scheduled for April 27-29 in San Francisco, so enough time to go back and forth and back and forth again for everyone.
After attending these two conferences back to back I think its safe to say they both served different purposes and the overlap was not extreme. However, regardless of the different speakers, attendees and conference session structures, both events did inspire conversation touching on the same core hot topics in the US market.
Now that I’ve listened to and talked with iGaming professionals involved in the regulated US market for two weeks straight, here are my top five takeaways for you to enjoy. If you have anything to add, please do so in the comments section below- we would love to hear from you.
Its not all about Real Money Gaming anymore
Last year most of the chatter at these two conferences centered around current and future real money gaming opportunities in the regulated US market. The limited opportunities in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey were discussed at length along with other US states that were seen to have potential for opening their doors to iGaming in the near future.
While these topics were still covered this year, they were done so to a much lesser degree and rather the main focus was surrounding what is available right now for operators, suppliers and affiliates.
I think this shift has occurred because people are now starting to realize just how long it is going to take for the regulated US market to get going but they want to get involved in some way right now. Some examples of sectors that are ripe at present in the US are real money skill gaming, on-premise opportunities and of course, daily fantasy sports.
Daily Fantasy Sports is the new big thing
Without question, the latest and the greatest in the US market is Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS). Everyone is talking about it, whether they want a piece of it or not. DFS is booming, with industry giants DraftKings and Fan Duel paving the way as leaders and American major leagues such as the NBA and the MLB going for a piece of the pie as well.
The projections for DFS revenues are staggering and the fact that we’re only in the infancy stage right now has captured the attention of interactive sports betting professionals globally.
Investors have said they see room for innovation and start-ups in DFS as well, especially with the emergence of eSports and other verticals. Draft Kings themselves have some big plans too, namely to further integrate sports viewing experiences with their content.
Focus moving from Social Gaming to engaging “millenials”
For the last few years there has been a big focus on social gaming at US facing iGaming events and there were even some conferences set up by our industry’s organizers dedicated solely to social gaming. This year the iGaming North America and GiGse sessions touched on social gaming, but the emphasis was shifted from “social” to engaging the “millenials”.
“Millenials” for those of you who don’t know are the “young people”, or people who were born between the years of 1980 and 2000. One of the challenges the gambling industry faces today is how to appeal to the millenials as traditional casino games are familiar to and targeted towards the older generation (think slot machines).
Some of the keys to engaging “millenials” are to create social environments around the games they choose to play, offering digital environments, facilitating the social sharing of winnings, finding ways to make the games more fun and increasing entertainment value.
This is not to say traditional casino games are going anywhere, but operators will have to get creative with “spicing” up their games so they appeal to this younger generation as well.
Don’t hold your breath for California
Well I guess this isn’t really anything new, but after listening to a state politician panel at iGaming North America and a California panel at GiGSe
its now clear all the stakeholders in California are in agreement over one thing, at least- its unlikely anything will happen with online poker regulation in California this year.
The battle between racetracks and tribes in California continues and the disagreements between “bad actor” clauses have not yet been resolved. Who knows what it will take to get everyone on the same page, but we can only hope it will happen sooner rather than later or else we’ll all be missing out.
Legalized sports betting in America is a possibility…in 5-10 years
That or once the NFL gets on board.
The subject of regulated sports betting in America has been a hot one since Senator Lesniak began his fight for the right in the state of New Jersey. It seems we’re finally making some progress after the pro-sports betting comments coming from the NBA’s Adam Silver. The NBA’s point of view is Americans are going to find a way to gamble on sports regardless of its legality, so why not legalize it and regulate it to ensure integrity?
The big roadblock here is the NFL’s opposition to legalized sports betting in America, even though they have four games at London’s Wembley Stadium this year, a part of the world where legalized gambling on these games will be taking place with ease.
However hypocritical it may be, until we have the NFL on board, getting sports betting legalized throughout America will be an uphill battle. The good news is the other leagues are warming up to the idea but even so, according to the NBA’s Dan Spillane, this will be a process marked in years, not months or days.
Check out our daily coverage from iGaming North America and GiGse for more details: