Atlantic City Gaming Panel Talks US Smartphone Betting Apps

US Smartphone Sports Betting Apps

The East Coast Gaming Congress meets each year in Atlantic City, but involves video game or eSports gaming as well.

A panel of sports betting and tech executives met at Harrah’s Atlantic City Casino on Wednesday to discuss the future of sports gambling in the United States. The group discussed a number of bookmaker-related topics, including smartphone betting apps.

The Wednesday discussion was part of the of East Coast Gaming Congress, which meets yearly in Atlantic City. Their discussion of live/in-play betting gained a lot of attention from the online gaming media.

For generations, bettors have made traditional sports bets before a sporting event, usually on the winner of the game or the score’s over/under. With live betting apps on smartphones and tablet computers, mobile sportsbooks allow players to wager on in-game events.

How Does Smartphone Sports Betting Work?

If Aaron Judge comes to the plate, the bet might involve whether Judge will get a hit, strike out, or hit a home run. If the New York Giants line up on offense, a live bet might involve whether they run or pass on the next play. Live/in-play betting might involve how many points an NBA star scores during the 2nd Quarter of the game.

Lee Richardson, CEO of Spectrum Gaming Group and a member of the panel said, “Mobile and in-play were absolutely made for each other. It’s what customers want to do.”

Why Is Live/In-Play Betting Popular?

Because smartphone betting possibly involves dozens of individual wagers during a game, it keeps sports bettors more involved in the game. Live betting apps also are a potential windfall for US online sportsbook operators.

The panel arrived at a conclusion about smartphone sports betting: it will be the area of the US sportsbook niche with the largest growth over the next few years. Each state will devise its own laws and regulations involving live/in-play betting. Panel members urged smart lawmaking, so smartphone betting apps remain fun and lucrative, but uncontroversial.

Sportradar Exec on Smartphone Betting

Neale Deeley, VP of Sportradar US, also was involved in the panel discussion. Sportrader is a sporting event data company which collects and distributes key in-game statistics to 70 international and US sports federations and leagues, including the NBA, NHL, and Major League Soccer. Sportradar not only helps leagues collect data quickly, but the company uses that data to provide fraud detection and anti-match-fixing services in real time.

Mr. Deeley agreed with Lee Richardson on the key aspects of smartphone betting, saying, “The growth of in-play has been a huge driver.”

Are Smartphone Betting Apps Legal in the US?

If sportsbook operators and pro-gaming lawmakers are not careful, in-play betting apps on smartphones could become controversial. In Australia, companies like Ladbrokes and William Hill exploited a loophole in the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 (IGA 2001) to get around a ban on online sports betting. IGA 2001 allowed players to place bets over the phone, so smartphone betting became a lucrative part of the business for offshore bookmaker sites.

Eventually, Australian problem gambling groups and parents groups spoke out about smartphone betting apps. Politicians like Andrew Wilkie and Nick Xenophon, who each has made a career in Aussie politics as anti-gambling crusaders, began to call for a law which would ban live in-play betting.

After several Australian states passed bans on smartphone betting apps, the campaign worked at the national level. The Coalition government of Malcolm Turnbull passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016 (IGA 2016) in August of 2017. Besides banning poker, it assured smartphone betting apps were banned throughout Australia.

Are Online/Mobile Sportsbooks Legal in the US?

Thus, it would be wise for American sports betting executives advise US lawmakers on measures to curb excesses. Of all western countries, Australia has taken the most similar stance to the United States on online gaming issues. US gaming executives should take Australia as a cautionary tale.

Readers might be confused on whether online and mobile sportsbooks are legal in the United States. The 1961 Wire Act makes sports betting illegal over phone lines, if those lines cross state lines. The Wire Act has been used to prosecute organized crime members for decades, when standard racketeering charges were hard to prosecute.

New Jersey Mobile Sportsbooks

The 2006 UIGEA made it illegal to conduct gaming over the Internet, if that same form of gaming was illegal under the Wire Act. Since sports bets placed over the interstate phone lines are illegal, the UIGEA makes it illegal to make interstate online and mobile sports bets, too.

The Wire Act and UIGEA do not apply to intrastate (in-state) sports bets, so New Jersey could legalize in-state online and mobile sportsbooks. In fact, it just did. Any land-based sportsbook can launch an online and mobile sportsbook site 30 days after the land-based operations begin taking bets — in July 2018.

East Coast Gaming Congress

Sports betting dominated the talk at the East Coast Gaming Congress this year. It is a timely subject. On Thursday at 10:30am, Monmouth Park will open its sportsbook operation in Oceanport. Thirty minutes later, Borgata will become the first Atlantic City casino to open a sportsbook.