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ICE expanding into North America 'makes perfect sense', states Don Best, MD


Following the recent news that leading US provider Don Best has struck a deal with Scientific Games, driving enhanced focus on the North American sports data market, all eyes are on thought leaders who can open the door and provide insight into the myriad of possibilities and obstacles in US sports betting. Speaking ahead of this year’s sold out ICE Sports Betting USA (Convene, New York, November 27-28, 2018) at which he will feature as part of the Understanding the business of sports wagering and how it can complement your current operations panel, Benjie Cherniak, Managing Director of Don Best Sports explores why Clarion’s North America event will provide a key meeting point for the US gaming industry, where the economic growth points sit and how he believes sports betting is losing its taboo image with customers and media alike.
How can companies prepare for potential regulation approval in new states and what are the economic possibilities?
When it comes to the US market and sportsbetting, it is best to view each state almost as a separate country, each with its own legislation, tax regime, barriers to entry, etc. Given as such, it is important for market entrants to get ahead of the curve in positioning themselves for success in a given state. Depending on how proactive one wants to be, this can range from staying up to date with legislative changes, preparing for licensing requirements, or even participating in lobbying efforts so as to help shape legislation in a favorable manner. The key is to be prepared to hit the ground running as opportunities present themselves.   
In relation to this, what are the obstacles which both land-based and online need to overcome in terms of technology?
The obstacles are not strictly technical in nature. Rather, in a state by state approach, challenges relate to the differences in approach and legislation from state to state. It is difficult to formulate a multi-state strategy when some states remain single channel and/or retain prohibitive tax regimes. From a technology standpoint, whether online or retail, one of the challenges is to ensure that the platform and product offering are as Americanized as possible, particularly as much of the technology being used is coming from across the pond, where there is less familiarity with the core US sports. We are going to continue to see progress in this regard as the market matures and as we all gain more experience with the growing US customer base.
How significant is it that Clarion has confirmed the launch of ICE North America for May 2019?
The ICE conference in London remains a “go to” event for the global gaming industry that is circled on the annual calendar of everyone in the space. Expanding the scope to now include the US market makes perfect sense at this juncture as ICE is a brand with the credibility to attract a wide range of stakeholders including not only the usual suspects such as operators, suppliers, and platform providers, but also legislators, the investment community, and the professional sports leagues. 
The younger millenial market is a key focus for sports betting, how is Don Best targeting this part of the US population responsibly?
Our focus is exclusively American sports, which in and of itself is specific to US punters of all ages. The differentiation to the younger demographic comes down to product mix. We view the next generation of punters as analytics focused, player stats driven, and probably having a shorter attention span than their predecessors. To that end, our product development cycle is focused on in-play betting products, player props, and variations thereof that will appeal to that next generation of bettors.  
How do you see the Sports Betting sector impacting the wider industry in the coming years?
We view the emergence of legislated sports betting in the US as having massive cultural implications. Whereas sports betting was previously viewed as taboo, it is now gradually gaining social acceptance. As the big media companies inevitably become more entrenched in the space, so will the American public. This will lead to the iGaming industry as a whole gaining increased cultural acceptance, in conjunction with handle growth and increased distribution as more states come on board. The entire industry is well positioned to feed off the momentum of sports betting for collaborative benefit.
Benjie Cherniak, Managing Director of Don Best Sports, will take part in the Understanding the business of sports wagering and how it can complement your current operations alongside; Art Manteris, VP Race and Sports Operations, Station Casinos, Red Rock Resorts; Niall Connell, Senior Vice President of Commercial, Paddy Power Betfair US; Charles Cohen, Vice President, Mobile, PlaySpot and North America Sports Betting, IGT; and, Jack Davison, CCO, Betgenius, a Genius Sports Group company; at 1:45 (ET) on November 27th at ICE Sports Betting USA.

Image: Benjie Cherniak, Managing Director, Don Best Sports