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揭密美國體育博彩業競,好多內幕不為人知

Rey Mashayekhi 2019年04月29日

每年美國人都要花數百億美元參與體育非法賭博。如今大聯盟也想分一杯羹,但魔鬼都藏在細節中。

美國人愛賭大學籃球賽由來已久,今年春天出手更是大方,一花就花了85億美元。

3月堪稱“3月瘋狂”,三個星期里,美國大學男子籃球錦標賽(NCAA)出現各種冷門和絕殺球。根據職業介紹公司Challenger,Gray&Christmas的數據,瘋狂3月里人們到處下注、填表,辦公室里也有很多賭池,員工生產力損失多達133億美元。

但今年情況有所不同。這是去年5月最高法院推翻聯邦體育博彩禁令的重大決定以來第一屆NCAA錦標賽。幾十年來,根據該禁令只有內華達州的賭場和體育博彩才能合法賭博,也意味著七個州首次迎來體育賭博合法,不必再偷偷摸摸下注,或者專門跑去拉斯維加斯。

美國體育聯盟和協會都很清楚該轉變的劃時代意義。體育博彩概念經歷了多年的抵制,現在各方都開始意識其中蘊含的經濟潛力。盡管NCAA官方繼續反對“各種形式的合法非法體育博彩”,今年1月美國職業體育協會主席馬克·埃默特還曾表示,“體育博彩從很多方面威脅到大學體育的誠信”,不過美國職業體育聯盟幾乎已完全接受新情況。

美國職業籃球賽(NBA)、美國職業棒球大聯盟(MLB)、美國曲棍球聯盟(NHL)和美國足球大聯盟受到商業前景鼓舞,紛紛與米高梅度假村建立官方合作關系,而美國橄欖球聯盟(NFL)則宣布了與凱撒娛樂簽訂的協議。此類商業協議對各大聯盟來說只是體育博彩游戲一小部分。如果被問到,他們會解釋說利用賭博吸引全國數百萬體育粉絲參與互動的機會更重要。

“不管過去還是現在,我們都認為體育博彩是吸引粉絲參與的機會,”NHL首席營收官基思·瓦赫特爾告訴《財富》雜志。“提升參與度是體育博彩的最終目標,追求的并不是短期(賭博)收入。”

簡單來說,體育博彩更多意味著收視率和比賽關注提升,也就等于更多錢流入各大聯盟金庫。根據美國博彩協會(AGA)10月委托進行的研究,合法體育博彩可能為北美四大聯盟(NFL、NBA、MLB和NHL)每年貢獻42億美元額外收入,其中大部分收入來自粉絲參與提升,而不是來自體育行業直接產生的收入。

“(聯盟)肯定認為博彩可以提升收視率和粉絲參與度。” 米高梅互動游戲公司總裁斯考特·布泰拉說。“他們認為這樣一來粉絲與比賽的關系更緊密,看比賽的理由也增加了。”

根據美國賭博協會的數據,每年美國人通過境外博彩網站或非法博彩公司非法下注超過1500億美元。隨著如此巨額資金即將納入合法渠道,就合法體育博彩業未來如何發展存在爭論也并不奇怪。除了聯盟本身還有很多利益相關方,各方都有自己的考慮。

有些賭場運營商在州層面具有重大影響力,州政府立法者正制定全國體育博彩法規。業內普遍認為,DraftKings和Fanduel之類移動博彩公司的數字平臺代表了行業的未來。當然,不少運動隊也已積極準備利用體育博彩帶來的商業機會和粉絲參與提升,有些則已付諸實踐。

通過采訪不同群體的十多人,直觀感覺是各方在美國體育博彩業成功合法化方面存在共同的利益。不過,這并非意味著分歧不存在,目前美國各州均有爭議,畢竟此舉將影響美國體育賭博業未來幾十年的發展。

This spring, Americans spent $8.5 billion indulging in a time-honored vice: wagering on college basketball games.

March brought with it “March Madness,” the three-week-long avalanche of upsets and buzzer-beaters that is the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. And with March Madness comes bets, brackets, office pools, and, of course, lost employee productivity—up to $13.3 billion worth of it, according to outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

But this year, things have been a little different. It was the first NCAA Tournament since the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last May to overturn the federal ban on sports betting, which for decades had largely restricted the activity to the casinos and sports books of Nevada. Which means that for the first time, bettors in seven states that have subsequently legalized sports gambling haven’t had to resort to under-the-table wagers—or a trip to Las Vegas—to get in on the action.

The nation’s major sports leagues and associations recognize just how epochal this shift is. After years of opposition to the notion of sports betting, they’ve virtually all now come around to its economic potential. While the NCAA continues to officially oppose “all forms of legal and illegal sports wagering”—which NCAA president Mark Emmert said in January “threaten[s] the integrity of college sports in many ways”—America’s professional sports leagues are almost entirely on board with this new state of affairs.

Buoyed by the commercial possibilities, the likes of the NBA, MLB, NHL, and Major League Soccer have each struck official partnerships with MGM Resorts, while the NFL announced its own deal with Caesars Entertainment. But these commercial agreements represent only a piece of the larger sports betting puzzle for the leagues. Ask them, and they’ll tell you that much more significant is the opportunity to use gambling as a vehicle to draw in, engage and interact with millions of sports fans across the country.

“We always saw, and we still see it, as a fan engagement opportunity,” Keith Wachtel, the NHL’s chief revenue officer, tells Fortune. “That’s the holy grail of sports betting; it’s not the short-term [gambling] revenue.”

Simply put, more betting on sports means more eyeballs watching and paying attention to those sports, and that equals more money flowing into the leagues’ coffers. According to an October study commissioned by the American Gaming Association (AGA), legal sports betting could result in an additional $4.2 billion in annual revenues for the four major North American sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL)—with the majority of that influx resulting from increased fan engagement with the product, rather than revenue coming directly from the gaming industry.

“I think [the leagues] absolutely view this as something that’s going to increase fan viewership and engagement,” says Scott Butera, MGM’s president of interactive gaming, who is spearheading the company’s sports betting strategy. “They see this as a way of letting fans have some skin in the game, and more reasons to watch a game now.”

According to the AGA, Americans illegally wager more than $150 billion on sports every year, whether through offshore betting sites or illegal bookmakers. With that kind of money potentially up for grabs via legitimate means, it’s no surprise that there’s a debate currently taking place about what the future of the fledgling, legal sports betting industry should look like. Beyond the leagues themselves, there are numerous stakeholders to account for, each with their own objectives.

There are the casino operators that hold significant influence at the state level, where legislators are crafting the nation’s sports betting regulations. There are mobile betting operators like DraftKings and FanDuel, whose digital platforms are widely considered to be the future of the industry. And, of course, there are the sports teams themselves, many of which are either preparing to, or already taking advantage of, the commercial and fan engagement opportunities allowed by sports betting.

Through interviews with more than a dozen people from these various groups, there is a clear sentiment that all parties have a shared, mutual interest in a successful legal sports betting industry in the U.S. But that’s not to say there aren’t disagreements, currently playing out across the country on a state-by-state basis, regarding issues that could shape the future of sports gambling in America for decades to come.

****

(州)政府總是贏家

去年,三大職業體育運動組織NBA、MLB和PGA巡回賽聯手游說美國各州立法機構,認為應監管體育博彩,該觀點與NFL和NHL截然相反,NFL和NHL在監管環境態度比較寬松。(瓦赫特爾表示,NHL的觀點是此時出手強制監管體育博彩“沒什么勝算”,而NFL并不打算采取類似游說,針對多次就本文評論的請求也沒有回復。)

“最高法院作出判決后,整體情況出現變化,”NBA高級副總裁兼助理總顧問丹·斯皮蘭表示, MLB和PGA巡回賽期間斯皮蘭負責聯盟游說工作。“我們發現不僅可以從商業角度,也能從誠信角度參與(體育比賽)行業。”

某些體育聯盟與AGA之類博彩行業團體立場一致,包括支持移動博彩,支持聯盟和博彩公司在偵測某些能反映比賽存在“誠信問題”的不規范博彩模式方面展開合作等。

其他提議則被博彩業斷然否決。最不受歡迎的概念當屬“誠信費”,因為“誠信費”可以讓聯盟從每場比賽下注收益里得一杯羹。最初NBA、MLB和PGA巡回賽提出了1%的費用,此后調整為每場賭注金額的0.25%。

“我們的球員投入大量時間和精力才能呈現精彩的職業棒球比賽,否則哪有機會去買博彩,” MLB高級副總裁兼副總顧問布賴恩·西利說。“所以應該分給我們一點錢。”

西利為了證明MLB的立場,還列舉了聯盟賭博監管工作的成本,以及接受體育博彩存在的固有風險。

“如果比賽出現誠信方面的丑聞,可能導致損失數億美元,”他表示。“棒球對抗體育博彩導致的問題上歷史悠久。但凡了解棒球的人都知道皮特·羅斯和黑襪丑聞。”

皮特·羅斯曾是球員和球隊經理,1989年被控賭博后禁止再加入大聯盟。(后來他在2004年的自傳中承認了不當行為)。“黑襪丑聞”是指芝加哥白襪隊的8名隊員,因在1919年世界系列賽中操縱結果而被禁賽。

The (State) House Always Wins

Last year, the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour teamed up on a lobbying effort targeting state legislatures across the U.S. The three pro sports organizations share ideas that they believe should govern sports betting and stand in contrast to the NFL and NHL, which have taken a more lax approach toward the regulatory environment. (Wachtel said the NHL does not consider it “a winning battle at this point” to dictate sports betting regulations, while the NFL is not pursuing a similar lobbying effort and did not return multiple requests for comment for this story.)

“There’s no question that the world changed after the Supreme Court decision,” says NBA senior vice president and assistant general counsel Dan Spillane, who is leading the league’s lobbying effort alongside the MLB and PGA Tour. “We saw that there is an opportunity to engage with the [gaming] industry, not just from a commercial standpoint but an integrity aspect as well.”

Some of the leagues’ positions are in line with casino industry groups like the AGA, including an embrace of mobile betting and support for cooperation between the leagues and bookmakers on detecting irregular betting patterns that could signal “integrity issues” with certain games and contests.

Other proposals have been flatly shot down by the gaming industry. Perhaps no stance has been less popular than the notion of an “integrity fee,” which would see the leagues get a cut of the revenue from each bet placed on one of their contests. While the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour initially floated the idea of a 1% fee, they’ve since revised their stance to 0.25% of every bet.

“There is no betting on Major League Baseball unless we put on the games and invest a lot of time and effort, as our players do, on putting on compelling contests,” says MLB senior vice president and deputy general counsel Bryan Seeley. “They should have to pay us something for that.”

Seeley also cites the costs of the league’s gambling oversight efforts, and the risks inherent to embracing sports betting, in justifying MLB’s position.

“If we have a scandal regarding the integrity of our game, that could cost us hundreds of millions of dollars,” he says. “Baseball has a long history of fighting against issues related to sports betting. Anyone who’s followed baseball knows about Pete Rose and the Black Sox scandal.”

Pete Rose, a former player and manager, was barred from the MLB in 1989 following allegations of gambling. (He later admitted to them in a 2004 autobiography.) The “Black Sox” refer to eight members of the Chicago White Sox who were banned for fixing the 1919 World Series.

辛辛那提紅人隊前球員和經理皮特·羅斯,1989年被控賭博后禁止再加入大聯盟。圖片來源:Karl Gehring—Denver Post via Getty Images

但博彩業幾乎無人理會,博彩業稱由于商業模式利潤低,不可能將收入分給聯盟。AGA公共事務高級副總裁薩拉·斯蘭表示,最初提議誠信費占每次下注金額1%,將導致博彩公司實際損失高達20%的利潤,因為據斯蘭透露,每1美元賭注要支付95美分的獎金。

即便將費用降低到0.25%,她也一樣反對。“說到底,博彩這行利潤很低,”她說。“刮走這筆錢只會影響正規博彩公司與非法博彩競爭的能力。”到目前為止,該問題方面似乎博彩游說團勝出。盡管全國范圍內幾項體育博彩立法(如上個月在康涅狄格州提出法案)都包括了誠信費用,但均未變成法律。

此外還有其他一些與比賽投注有關的問題,畢竟體育博彩市場龐大且不斷增長,而且背后有聯賽以及SportRadar和Genius Sports之類體育數據合作伙伴收集的大量數據支持。

“說到底,博彩這行利潤很低。”—薩拉·斯蘭,美國博彩協會

首先,NBA、MLB和PGA巡回賽都希望博彩公司為官方許可的數據付費。各聯盟聲稱,付費有利于提供最準確也最新的投注數據,也有助于保護花費數百萬美元建立的專有數據。

“周四和周五PGA巡回賽中,我們要從拍攝的每張(高爾夫)照片中抓取數據,每天要處理10000張以上照片,” PGA巡回賽副總裁兼助理總顧問大衛·米勒表示。“我們認為,在受監管的市場里,如果有人使用跟蹤工具或網絡抓取軟件將我們收集的數據以極低成本賣給博彩公司,這很不公平。”

此外,聯盟為了保護比賽誠信,希望對某些種類的博彩加以限制。“我們希望確保,賭注內容日漸精細時不要出現誠信問題,”西利表示,“一個人想操縱九局棒球比賽當然非常困難,但操縱一次擊球情況就容易得多,擊球手完全可以控制何時出局。”

米勒說,PGA巡回賽同意該說法,確實有“負面下注”情況,如“賭(高爾夫球手)會打空一桿或將擊球距離不到300碼”,尤其是“在級別比較低的比賽中”,此類比賽通常獎金池較小,選手也更傾向于操縱比賽。(出于類似原因,西利表示MLB反對小聯盟級別的體育博彩。)

不出所料,賭場游說團既不同意規定博彩者購買數據,也不同意就賭注類型施加控制。斯蘭說,如果對數據源采取強制將“使(聯盟)壟斷數據權”,限制博彩公司提供的賭注類型只會“讓(投注者)到海外非法(賭博)網站”下注。

她補充說,博彩業已經“投入大量資金”確保投注比賽的真實性不受影響。“如果把獎金給有內幕信息的贏家,博彩公司一樣會蒙受損失,”她指出。“發生可疑事件時,對體育聯盟不利,對我們同樣不是好事。”

Sportradar創始人兼首席執行官卡斯滕·科爾告訴《財富》雜志,雖然“(聯盟)想保護比賽的初衷很容易理解”,但強制規定博彩運營商獲取數據來源的想法“在自由市場里行不通”。在過去的20年里,SportRadar向世界各地的體育博彩公司提供數據,現在與大多數體育聯盟保持著類似合作關系。

關鍵之處在于,該公司也幫助聯盟和當局監控潛在的誠信問題,例如可能反映某種操縱比賽的違規博彩行為。“我知道,體育比賽干凈與否方面聯盟有利害關系,但博彩公司也一樣,不能容許有人利用小型附加賭注影響比賽的純潔性,”科爾說。

他補充說,關于使用官方數據的爭論“不太積極,因為會延緩”許多州啟動體育博彩的進度。“希望(聯盟和博彩公司)向同一個方向游說。”

與誠信費問題一樣,聯盟授權使用官方數據并限制某些類型賭注的努力尚未在國家層面形成影響。不過聯盟確實已推進到法案層面,該法案去年12月由參議員查爾斯·舒默(紐約州)和時任的參議員奧爾林·哈奇在國會提出。

該法案將成為美國聯邦立法管理合法體育博彩業的第一步。不過看起來博彩業會反對,斯蘭表示博彩公司將為已在州一級受到嚴格管制的基礎上“多應付一級官僚管制”。事實上,不管是體育聯盟、數據提供商、移動博彩公司還是其他行業參與者,基本上都同意這一觀點。

But that position garners little sympathy from the gaming industry, which cites its own low-margin business model in ruling out the leagues getting any cut of betting revenues. Sara Slane, the AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs, says that the originally proposed 1% integrity fee on each bet would amount to bookmakers effectively sacrificing up to 20% of their profits—given how bookmakers pay out 95 cents in winnings for every every $1 that is bet, according to Slane.

She also shoots down the notion of a more limited 0.25% fee on bets. “At the end of the day, this is a low-margin business,” she says. “Taking that money off the top hurts our ability to compete with illegal operators.” So far, it appears that the casino lobby is winning on this issue. While integrity fees have been included in several proposed pieces of sports betting legislation across the country (such as a bill introduced in Connecticut last month), they’ve yet to make it into law anywhere.

Then there are other issues that relate to in-play betting—a massive and ever-growing piece of the sports betting market that’s enabled by the vast amount of data collected by the leagues and sports data partners like Sportradar and Genius Sports.

“At the end of the day, this is a low-margin business.” —Sara Slane, American Gaming Association

On the first count, the NBA, MLB, and PGA Tour want bookmakers to be required to pay for their official, league-sanctioned data streams. They claim this is important to provide the most accurate, up-to-date betting data for wagers, and also to protect the proprietary data collection operations that they’ve spent millions of dollars to establish.

“We capture data from every single [golf] shot at a PGA Tour event—on a Thursday and Friday, that’s 10,000-plus shots a day,” according to David Miller, a vice president and assistant general counsel for the PGA Tour. “We don’t think it’s fair, in a regulated market, for someone to be able to use a tracking tool or web-scraping device and turn around the data we collected to bookmakers for a fraction of the cost.”

Additionally, as part of their efforts to protect the integrity of their games, the leagues want to see restrictions on certain kinds of wagers. “We want to make sure that, as we get into more granular bets, we don’t encounter integrity issues,” Seeley says. “It’s very difficult for an individual to fix a nine-inning baseball game. It’s a lot easier to fix the next at-bat; a batter is in complete control of when he strikes out.”

Miller says the PGA Tour agrees with that stance when it comes to “negative bets,” such as “a bet that [a golfer will] miss a putt or drive it less than 300 yards”—and particularly “at the lower levels of our sport,” where the winnings are smaller and players are potentially more prone to manipulation. (Likewise, Seeley said MLB is against sports betting at the minor league level.)

Unsurprisingly, the casino lobby is at odds with both a mandate on where bookmakers can buy their data from and what kinds of bets they can take. Slane says such a mandate “enables [the leagues] to have a monopoly over data rights,” while restricting the types of wagers that operators can offer would simply “drive [bettors] to offshore, illegal [gambling] websites” to find certain bets.

She adds that the gaming industry has “just as much invested” in ensuring that the integrity of the contests it takes bets on are not comprised. “When we’re paying out to winners who have insider info, that hurts us just as much,” she notes. “If there’s something suspicious happening, it’s bad for the leagues but it’s also bad for us.”

Carsten Koerl, the founder and CEO of Sportradar, tells Fortune that while it’s “very understandable that [the leagues] want to protect the sport,” the idea that they can dictate where gambling operators can obtain their data from “is not going to work in a free market.” Having provided betting data to sports books around the world over the past two decades, Sportradar now has similar partnerships with most of the major American sports leagues.

Crucially, the company also helps leagues and authorities monitor potential integrity issues, such as betting irregularities that may indicate a contest is fixed in some way. “I understand the leagues have an interest, but betting operators have the same interest that the sport stays clean and nobody is using these small side bets to influence it,” Koerl says.

He adds that the debate over the use of official data “is not very positive, because it will slow down the process” of getting sports betting up and running in many states. “I would like to see that [the leagues and gambling operators] are both lobbying in the same direction.”

Like the integrity fee issue, the leagues’ efforts to mandate the use of official data and restrict certain types of bets have yet to gain much traction at the state level. But they did make it into a bill, proposed in the U.S. Congress in December, by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and then-Sen. Orrin Hatch.

That bill would represent the first piece of federal legislation governing the legal sports betting industry in the U.S. While the gaming industry appears to be against such legislation—Slane said it would “add another level of bureaucracy” for gaming operators already heavily regulated at the state level—the idea is met with virtually unanimous approval among leagues, data providers, mobile betting operators, and other industry participants.

****

要么雙倍要么輸光

在新澤西州紐瓦克市保誠中心,前去觀看新澤西魔鬼隊比賽的球迷可以參觀威廉·希爾運動休閑室,買杯飲料,面前幾塊屏幕顯示著各項體育賽事的最新賠率。雖然沒有投注窗口可供個人下注,因為根據新澤西州法律,開班實體博彩店面仍然受到限制,但只要點開博彩公司威廉·希爾的移動體育博彩應用(或根據個人喜好點開任何博彩應用),用手指輕敲下注即可。

“重點是確保球迷來看比賽時享受到獨特的關聯體驗,體育博彩只是補充,” 哈里斯·布利策體育娛樂公司(HBSE)總裁休·韋伯表示,新澤西魔鬼隊和保誠中心均在該公司旗下,(公司還有費城76人隊和英超水晶宮隊)。韋伯指出,如果球迷想下注,連休息室都不用特意去,“在球場座位上就能完成”。

Double or Nothing

At Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., fans attending a New Jersey Devils game can visit the William Hill Sports Lounge, buy a drink, and survey several screens that list the most up-to-date betting odds for any number of sporting events. While there are no betting windows available to take wagers in person—New Jersey law still restricts where you can establish a brick-and-mortar betting operation—all one has to do is flip open bookmaker William Hill’s mobile sports betting app (or any other sports betting app, if they like) and place a wager with the tap of a finger.

“We’ve made it a priority to make sure that when our fans come to the games, they are getting a unique and connective experience, and we saw sports gambling as additive to that,” says Hugh Weber, the president of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE), the company that owns both the Devils and the Prudential Center (as well as the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the English Premier League’s Crystal Palace F.C.). As Weber notes, his patrons don’t even have to visit the lounge if they want to place a bet; they can “actually place bets from their seats in the arena.”

2018年12月14日,哈里斯·布利策體育娛樂公司總裁休·韋伯在新澤西州紐瓦克市保誠中心的威廉·希爾運動休閑室發言。圖片來源:Dave Kotinsky—Getty Images for William Hill

雖然體育博彩在賓夕法尼亞州已經合法,但移動體育博彩尚未合法,也就是說目前在76人隊的主陣地費城還不能通過手機下注。不過,哈里斯·布利策體育娛樂已在保誠中心與凱撒娛樂和體育公司Fanduel達成商業協議,在不管博彩何時何地實現合法,必將在美國各種運動隊老板中率先接受。

擁有NHL華盛頓首都隊和NBA華盛頓奇才的泰德·萊昂西斯最近宣布,2月華盛頓特區市政委員會投票批準體育博彩合法后,將在球隊共享的華盛頓市中心賽場里開設現場博彩站。實時交易軟件企業家維微克·拉納迪夫旗下的薩克拉門托國王隊,已在官方應用程序上為球迷提供比賽預測平臺。同時,作為相對年輕的企業,大聯盟足球由于球迷參與,可能從體育博彩中受益最多。MLS副專員加里·史蒂文森稱,目前公司正與新合作伙伴米高梅“開發一款免費游戲”。

盡管全國各地的州級博彩游說團體都表示反對,但體育博彩業大多數人認為,即便目前尚不完善,未來也會是移動體育博彩的天下。一些博彩公司對移動博彩能否推動賭場的流量持保留態度,但一致認為如果合法市場希望多搶占一些非法黑市的份額,此舉很有必要。

“這方面我們與聯盟觀點基本一致,因為他們已經意識到移動是未來發展方向,” 幻想體育公司Fanduel的總裁兼首席運營官基普·萊文表示,最近公司在距費城半小時車程的Valley Forge賭場度假村開設了一家零售體育博彩店。萊文說,預計賓夕法尼亞州將成為“另一個將零售和移動體育博彩結合的州”。

“移動是未來。”—幻想體育公司Fanduel的總裁兼首席運營官基普·萊文

Fanduel和Draftkings掌控了附近新澤西州的移動體育博彩市場,而移動博彩已占據新澤西體育博彩市場的主要市場份額。不過為了順利開展業務,兩家公司都要按法律要求與現有賭場運營商簽訂許可協議,或者說“搭上聯系”。Draftkings對接大西洋城度假村賭場酒店,Fanduel則對接梅多蘭賽道和賭場。

對兩家以日常幻想體育運營商出名的公司來說,此舉只是在長期以來由實體賭場壟斷的監管環境中開展業務的成本。

“在任何州,通過賭場發放許可證都沒有確鑿的理由,”Draftkings的首席風險官兼聯合創始人馬特·卡利什表示。他指出,公司總部所在的馬薩諸塞州已提出體育博彩法,允許移動運營商“直接獲得許可證,不用通過賭場。”但卡利什指出,公司對新澤西州的體育博彩法規“相當滿意”,并表示“不管通過什么框架只要能開展業務就可以”。

跟FanDuel一樣,Draftkings也開設了體育博彩實體店,位于密西西比灣海岸的紅寶石賭場度假村。但兩家公司也都希望能率先搶占美國移動博彩市場。Draftkings最近宣布與凱撒娛樂達成協議,如此一來在凱撒經營業務的州即可確保Draftkings獲得許可證。去年Fanduel與賭場運營商Boyd Gaming達成了類似協議。

對各家由幻想體育轉型體育博彩的公司,圍繞合法體育博彩具體應如何開展的討論并不是非黑即白。盡管每家公司都與專業體育聯盟建立了合作關系,但并不代表體育博彩必須從聯盟購買數據(“我們認為不應寫在法規中,應該通過商業談判達成協議,”萊文表示),也不應通過“誠信費”上交一定比例收入(“我認為大家都不會同意,”卡利什指出)。

但這些公司相信,與美國對體育博彩應如何運作用有發言權的各方一樣,共同利益便是讓體育博彩業走出黑暗,進入主流。

“他們已經意識到,如果非法市場規模如此之大,那么誠信問題已然存在,而且實際上更糟,”萊文談到體育聯盟為何支持體育博彩時表示。“他們手上有數據,如果發現奇怪的情況,就可以打電話問我們。如果他們遇到問題或者有顧慮,也可以找人幫忙。我們都站在一條船上。”

盡管如此,爭論仍將繼續。在22個州,體育博彩法案仍懸而未決。

“6月(州)立法會議結束時的局面會非常有趣,”斯蘭表示。“屆時能看清準確的情勢。”(財富中文網)

譯者:馮豐

審校:夏林

While sports betting is now legal in Pennsylvania, mobile sports betting is not, which means that similar offerings are not yet on the cards for the 76ers at their home in Philadelphia. But HBSE, which has also struck commercial deals with Caesars and FanDuel at Prudential Center, is among American sports team owners who are ahead of the curve in embracing the possibilities of sports betting, wherever and whenever they’re available.

Ted Leonsis, who owns both the NHL’s Washington Capitals and the NBA’s Washington Wizards, recently announced that he will open a physical on-site sports book at the arena his teams share in downtown Washington, D.C., after the District’s city council voted to legalize sports betting in February. The Sacramento Kings—owned by real-time trading software entrepreneur Vivek Ranadivé—have offered fans predictive gaming platforms on the team’s official app. Meanwhile Major League Soccer, as a relatively fledgling enterprise, has perhaps the most to gain from sports betting as a fan engagement tool. It’s currently “developing a free-to-play game” with new partner MGM, according to MLS deputy commissioner Gary Stevenson.

Despite opposition from state gaming lobbies across the country, most people in the sports betting industry agree that mobile sports betting is the way of the future, if not the present. While some gaming operators have expressed reservations about whether mobile betting will drive traffic to their casinos, the consensus is that it’s necessary should the legal market wish to capture the bulk of the illegal, black market’s share.

“We are largely aligned with the leagues around this—they realize that mobile is the future,” says Kip Levin, the president and COO of FanDuel. The fantasy sports company recently opened a retail sports book location at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, located a half-an-hour’s drive outside Philadelphia. Levin says he expects Pennsylvania to be “the next big state with combined retail and mobile” sports betting.

“Mobile is the future.” —Kip Levin, COO, FanDuel

Both FanDuel and DraftKings have dominated the mobile sports betting market in nearby New Jersey, and mobile betting itself has come to represent a majority market share of the overall sports betting market in the Garden State. Yet, in order to do business there, both companies are required by law to agree licenses, or “skins,” with existing casino operators—Atlantic City’s Resorts Casino Hotel, in DraftKings’ case, and Meadowlands Racetrack and Casino, in the case of FanDuel.

For both companies, which made their names as daily fantasy sports operators, it’s simply the cost of doing business in a regulatory environment that has long been dominated by the brick-and-mortar casinos.

“There’s no firm reason why any state has to run licensing through the casinos,” according to Matt Kalish, the CRO and co-founder of DraftKings, who noted that the company’s home state, Massachusetts, has proposed a sports betting law allowing mobile operators “direct licensing [that] wouldn’t run through a casino.” But Kalish notes that, in New Jersey, the company is “pretty happy” with the state’s sports betting regulations and is “making it work with whatever framework” is provided.

Like FanDuel, DraftKings has also established a physical sports book presence, in its case at Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast. But both companies are also looking to be ahead of the curve as far as opening up the national mobile betting market; DraftKings recently announced a deal with Caesars that could allow it to acquire licenses in states where the gaming company has a presence, while FanDuel struck a similar agreement with casino operator Boyd Gaming last year.

For each daily fantasy sports-turned-sports betting operator, the issues surrounding the debate over what legal sports betting should look like are not black and white. Though each operator has partnerships with professional sports leagues, it is not tied to the notion that sports books should be mandated to buy data from those leagues (“We don’t think it should be written in a statute; we think it should be a commercial negotiation,” Levin says) or required to hand over a percentage of their revenues via an “integrity fee” (“I don’t think anyone loves the idea,” Kalish notes).

But these companies do believe that, along with all the various parties that are having a say in how sports betting should operate in the U.S., they have a shared interest in bringing the industry out of the darkness and into mainstream.

“They’ve realized that if the illegal market is as big as it is, the integrity issue actually exists today, and it’s actually worse,” Levin says of the sports leagues’ embrace of sports betting. “They have access to the data; if they think there’s something is weird, they can pick up the phone and call us. If they have an issue or a concern, they can reach out. We’re all aligned.”

Nonetheless, the debate will rage on: There are active sports-betting bills pending in 22 states.

“I think it’ll be really interesting to see what happens at the closeout of the [state] legislative sessions in June,” says Slane. “Then we’ll really see what the map looks like.”

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