Casino industry betting on sports fans becoming sports gamblers |

Casino industry betting on sports fans becoming sports gamblers

Jamie Martines
Sports book at Monmouth Park racetrack in Oceanport, N.J.

The NFL could be looking at a $2.3 billion annual payout thanks to legalized sports betting, if all goes according to plan.

That’s how much the league stands to gain as states roll out sports betting operations, according to a Nielson Sports report released Wednesday. It was commissioned by the American Gaming Association, a trade group representing the casino industry.

“Sports betting is a way to increase fan engagement because most fans then have skin in the game, and they’re more interested in watching the entirety of the game,” said Sara Slane, AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs.

Increased fan engagement — which the report describes as increased consumption of the league’s content and products, like media rights, sponsorships, merchandise and ticket sales — could translate to about $1.75 billion in revenue.

An additional $573 million will come from betting operators and data providers for other sponsorships, advertising and product fees, according to the report.

The report assumes a best-case scenario: states will set up regulatory environments that allow legal sports betting spaces to compete effectively with black market bookies, and casual bettors and fans will become more interested in games if they have a few dollars on it.

Odds are that revenue bump won’t happen overnight. It will likely take until 2020 — possibly longer — for the national legal sports betting market to mature to the point where leagues like the NFL are seeing greater fan engagement and viewership, Slane said.

In addition to Nevada, states now offering sports betting include Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi and West Virginia. Pennsylvania has had a law on the books allowing sports betting since October 2017. Regulations to begin sports betting were approved in August. So far, two Pennsylvania casinos have applied for permits.

Slane suggested that an uptick in television ratings could indicate that sports betting is boosting interest in the NFL or other professional and amateur leagues. Checking in on how long consumers are watching games and whether they’re watching for longer could also offer insight, she said.

Increases in casino revenue from table games, hotels or restaurants could also be a clue that sports books are attracting more consumers, she said.

Though it’s hard to measure, it is also important to question whether legal sports betting operations have been successful in cutting into the illegal market, said David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

And as for fans, legal sports betting could change the way they support the home team, he said.

“Maybe it would make Steelers fans more interested in following other teams, as well as the Steelers,” Schwartz said. “It would give them a vested interest.”

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jamie at 724-850-2867, [email protected] or via Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.