SPORTS BETTING OPERATOR
VOLUME 003 ISSUE 005
SPORTS WAGERING TOPS IN USA OPINIONS
F E AT U R E S
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eleased in time for G2E Las Vegas, the fifth issue of Sports Betting Operator brings you current and valued information on technologies, venues and industry leaders. This issue appropriately begins with David McKee’s profile of Park MGM’s reinvention, and how industry veteran Ann Hoff led a remodeling of this lifestyle property into an iconic attraction – turning the old Monte Carlo into the new Park MGM. Unique to Las Vegas is what they’ve done with NoMad, an extraordinary brand which serves as a hotel within a hotel at Park MGM. It provides a completely different experience. The eclectic property is just shy of 300 rooms on the top four floors. What’s really special about NoMad are its European touches. We follow-up on an interview we did in our inaugural issue with Jay Kornegay, Vice President of Race & Sports Book Operations at the SuperBook at the Westgate Las Vegas. The discussion covers the SuperBook’s expansion into other states, as well as how they coped with the ongoing covid pandemic. Dennis Cotto, a Principal at Bet on Gaming Holdings chats to Peter White on a dearth of topics ranging from investment and expansion in land-based gaming, digital sports betting and online gaming. Aside from growing their presence in the gaming landscape they also strive to make an impact by directing a portion of their gaming revenues to social programs in local communities. SBO catches up with industry visionary, Aaron Speach, CEO Esports Technologies (EBET) and discusses their involvement in cryptocurrencies and their global presence in esports and sports betting. EBET has been able to differentiate themselves in the esports gaming industry by expanding their sportsbettingoperator.com
ABOVE: Bill Healey, Editor, Sports Betting Operator
offering in esports predictive gaming and content, predictive consolidated data and data feeds, and bet matching engines. Victor Royer, President of Gaming Services & Research takes us deep into an analysis of American sports wagering, including the boom created when PAPSA (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) was overturned in 2018. Currently 30 states and Washington D.C. – have some form of legalized sports wagering, generating significant revenues for each jurisdiction. SBO was fortunate to chat with Rick Hutchins, SVP of Casino Operations at Resorts World Las Vegas. Our discussion covers a range of issues from their Dawg House, TITO processes and customer satisfaction – all tied into the advanced technologies RW implemented. As the only new resort property built on the Las Vegas Strip in ten years, they took advantage of technology to offer their customers something truly unique. Victor Royer provides us with an engaging article on why Cash is King in Sports. His analysis discusses that though cashless wagering is not the preferred method of betting on the casino floor, it’s always been a preferred option for Online Poker, Online Casinos, and now for Mobile and Remote Sports Wagering. 3
CONTENTS VOLUME 003 - ISSUE 005 3 Editor’s Letter 5 Hitting Home Runs Sports Betting Operator Magazine catches up with the SuperBook’s Jay Kornegay 10 Performance Is Key Interview with Robert Braubitz, MBA Vice President Finance at Boyd Gaming By: Peter White 17 Strategic Alliances Dennis Cotto chats to Peter White 21 Outwit, Outplay, Outlast Esports Technologies (EBET), Sports Betting Operator chats to Aaron Speach, CEO 25 Sports Wagering Tops in USA By: Victor H. Royer 32 Sports World Las Vegas Setting New Standards in Technology By: Bill Healey 36 Cash is King in Sports By Victor H. Royer 39 Sports Gambling Podcast Network (SGPN) Colby Dant provides the ‘College Football Experience’
CONTACTS Publisher – Peter White firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor – Bill Healey email@example.com North American Associate Editor – David McKee firstname.lastname@example.org International Editor – Victor H Royer email@example.com Designer – Stewart Hyde www.totaldesingworks.com Tel: 44 (0) 1892 740869 W: www.sportsbettingoperator.com Editorial Policy: The views and opinions expressed in Sports Betting Operator remain principally the views of contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of the editor or publishers. The publishers wish to avoid inaccuracies and, whilst every precaution has been taken to ensure that information contained in this publication is accurate, no liability is accepted by the editor or publishers for errors or omissions, however caused. Unless otherwise stated, articles appearing in this publication remain the copyright of the publishers and may not be reproduced in any form without the publisher’s written consent. Printed in the UK by Severn Print Ltd.
HITTING HOME RUNS Sports Betting Operator Magazine catches up with the SuperBook’s Jay Kornegay
Jay Kornegay, the Vice President of Race & Sports Operations at the Las Vegas Superbook sportsbettingoperator.com
ur inaugural edition of Sports Betting Operator in 2019 featured an interview with Jay Kornegay, the Vice President of Race & Sports Operations at the Las Vegas Superbook. In this issue we catchup with Jay to discuss the advances in sports betting, and the impact the Covid pandemic had within the industry. Since our discussion a couple years back (2019), there has been significant growth in Sports Betting in Las Vegas and around the States. What recent changes would have had the most significant impact on the Sports Betting industry? In the big picture these consummated deals we’re seeing are changing the landscape as we speak. The consolidation in this space is happening sooner than later. The next few years should be interesting with market access, intellectual property, and technology being the keys moving forward. Additionally, the top companies most likely will own their own platforms. The growth in sports betting has been tremendous and is surpassing most expectations across the country. Currently, other jurisdictions are realizing how much people enjoy wagering on sports. Certainly, technology makes it very convenient and plays a part. It’s a simple interest in this activity that the industry is now discovering. We just opened some doors and they’re knocking these doors down to wager on sporting events. As we move forward, the changes we’ve seen since PASPA was overturned in 2018 most revolve around technology. (PASPA is the Professional and Amateur Sports 6
Protection Act). The technology is going to continue to grow but I don’t think it will really mature or find its rhythm for another 3-5 years. The technology that’s out there right now is somewhat challenging for the operators, as the technology cannot keep up with all our thoughts, needs and wants. It will catch up very soon, and it will be polished within 3-5 years. Vegas is a little different. As people are beginning to experience sports wagering in other jurisdictions, they’re starting to come here and taking that newly discovered entertainment channel to another level. Even though they have sports betting in their own state, they cannot duplicate what we have here in Vegas. So, they’re coming here to enjoy one of their favorite entertainment options with all the other amenities Vegas has to offer. Nevada sports numbers have been tremendous and some are record setting during the last 12 months. Have there been updates or advances in the technologies at the SuperBook, for instance betting, payment or other technologies? SuperBook is its own separate entity outside of Nevada. The SuperBook here in Las Vegas is still operated by the Westgate. However, the SuperBook team runs all operations. Currently, we have two different systems in place. We utilize Stadium Technology within the state of Nevada, and we’re using IGT system outside of Nevada. When you cross over different platforms, it creates different levels of technology. Because of this, there are certain things we can do in Colorado that we’re unable to do here in Las Vegas and vice versa. Eventually we’ll all be molded into one and be able to offer everything to our patrons, despite what jurisdiction they’re located. Some of the biggest changes lately sportsbettingoperator.com
have been in the funding processes, where we’ve spent a lot of resources and time as other operators have, so patrons can fund their accounts and withdrawing from their accounts – making it an easier journey for them. This includes the verification process, where customers can be verified.
can only imagine what we’ll see in this space five years from now.
The processes and steps have been significantly upgraded from what existed a couple years ago. Also, if you compare the sports betting apps from a couple years ago versus what you see today, you can certainly see a significant upgrade in the user experience. That’s being improved every single day. Everybody’s taking steps to improve the process, including betting options, funding options and promotional offerings. These include promotions and odds boosts – all those types of offerings have been upgraded to make the experience better than it’s ever been. These technology upgrades take time and resources and a lot of effort. I
the progress we were all making in the industry. It limited a lot of our business practices to a point that we couldn’t complete some of our opportunities. With the restrictions on travel, it slowed down everything for us. When it first started and progress was shut down, the sports world was one of the first to re-invent itself, allowing consumers to get a taste of reality again. The sports world was able to offer sports like UFC, golfing events and some second and third tier sports – a great relief for many in the industry, operators and sports betting enthusiasts. For those who were cooped up in their homes, it really put sports and wagering in the limelight
What impact has there been due to the Covid pandemic? How has the Westgate weathered the pandemic? Well, the pandemic shook our world as it has everybody else’s. It hindered
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FEATURE: SUPERBOOK as there wasn’t a lot going on in the world. As the sports industry trickled back to life, so did sports wagering. Even though the consumer didn’t have a lot of entertainment options like going to games, concerts or shopping, in most jurisdictions they were able to sign up for a betting app from their couch. Sports that normally didn’t get a lot of attention from the bettors were on the forefront. Fans could put $20 on an event and suddenly they’d have an interest in it. Sports betting became one of the few entertainment options available. As the other sports returned during the pandemic, with the available apps, things began to snowball for the sports betting industry. We reached a point in recent months, that despite the uprising in Covid and its variants, sportsbooks have been setting numbers that we’ve never seen before. During the pandemic it was interesting to monitor the differences between unrestricted jurisdictions versus those with limited options. Bettors and operators benefited
ABOVE: Jay Kornegay and Bill Healey from Sports Betting Operator Magazine
from the ability to sign-up remotely and fund and withdraw remotely. They were able to make wagers conveniently – which led to a significant increase in those unrestricted states. In our past discussion, there was mention that you were looking to expand the SuperBook brand outside of Nevada. What has been progress on expanding the brand? Our SuperBook Sports brand opened in Colorado at the end of last year with our mobile offering. We followed that by opening our retail outlet at The Lodge Casino in Blackhawk Colorado this May. We’re also prepping our mobile channel for New Jersey, with four or five more states on deck. Our goal is to have 3-4 more states by this time next year. Sports Book Operator Magazine appreciates the time Jay has given us to follow-up on the profile in our inaugural issue – and to provide insights on what they’ve achieved during the pandemic.
FEATURE: VALLEY FORGE
FEATURE: VALLEY FORGE
PERFORMANCE IS KEY Interview with Robert Braubitz, MBA Vice President Finance at Boyd Gaming By: Peter White
FEATURE: VALLEY FORGE
oyd Gaming surprised
many when it took a chance on Valley Forge Resort, a newly converted casino in the Philadelphia suburbs. To say it has delivered would be an understatement. Not only has it outperformed for its size and location (directly across the street from George Washington’s military encampment) but a prescient alliance with FanDuel has made it dominant in Pennsylvania’s sports-betting and i-gaming spheres. We spoke with Vice President of Finance Robert Braubitz to get his take on the future. Could you give us a bit of your background in finance? I have been involved in finance and 12
financial operations for over 20 years. I have a diverse experience in various industries and an in-depth background in financial planning & analysis, budgeting, payroll, accounts payable/receivable, treasury, strategy implementation and general ledger oversight. How would you describe your work and your position within Boyd Gaming? I would describe my work and position as a diverse and eclectic blend of operations, financial leadership, strategy implementation and mentoring. What do you think are the sector’s biggest opportunities, post-Covid? sportsbettingoperator.com
FEATURE: VALLEY FORGE
With the changing landscape and the older demographic slow to return I think one of the biggest opportunities is the need to engage the younger guest. What have been amongst the biggest alterations to the casino gaming areas to cope with the challenge presented by Covid-19? I think one of the biggest alterations is the greater stress on health and safety protocols. What is the position on cashless at the casinos and will the resort in future look to include cryptocurrencies? I believe that cashless payments are really the future of the industry. It allows for the creation of a harmonious sportsbettingoperator.com
ABOVE: Robert Braubitz, MBA Vice President Finance at Boyd Gaming
experience for the guest and will potentially simplify key areas of casino operations and cash management. Do you see a difference in what younger and older guests expect from resort casinos? There are definitely differences - slots have always been the traditional main draw for casinos but younger guests seem to have a declining interest in traditional slots. Industry research shows that less than half of millennials play slots versus a clear majority of older generations. Younger guests are also opting to spend their casino dollars on more skill-based games and in other areas of the casino resort such as bars, fine dining, shopping and shows. 13
FEATURE: VALLEY FORGE
What have been amongst the changes that have been incorporated into the casinos in recent years that have impressed you most? I think the advent of i-gaming and online sports betting. It has opened a completely new market and it touches a customer base that might not have engaged in the traditional “brick and mortar” experience. For those of our readership that like to travel and enjoy the facilities of a resort casino what would you like to say to them as to why they should choose your Valley Forge Resort? I believe we have an incredible gaming floor that appeals to everyone from slot players to table games enthusiasts. We have an array of food and beverage outlets that appeals to the casual dinner or to someone seeking a fine-dining experience. Most of all what sets us apart though is our incredible staff. They strive to give an incredible experience every time they engage with guests and are passionate to always improve. 14
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FEATURE: DENNIS COTTO Dennis Cotto
STRATEGIC ALLIANCES Dennis Cotto chats to Peter White sportsbettingoperator.com
FEATURE: DENNIS COTTO
hen and how did you first become interested in the Gaming sector? My interest originated with a discussion amongst colleagues of the dearth of minority owners in the gaming space, both land based and online, while ethnic groups represent a significant portion of the gaming customer base. As a minority and investor, I saw the growing gaming landscape as an excellent business opportunity where, at the same time, I could make a social impact. The opportunity to direct a portion of gaming revenues to local communities is so important. While states establish and maintain funds for gambling addiction, there is a bigger issue, particularly with online gaming, where online gaming operators enter states generating significant revenue that will not positively touch local communities. As a minority investor, my goal is to redirect a portion of these revenues and direct and establish sustainable locally community based philanthropic initiatives where we hold licenses.
our license. This will provide numerous scholarships and financial support to students in need and provide a much needed financial safety net. What I’m most proud of is the Virginia Legislature later adopting our bid proposal program regarding minority participation and HSBCUs and amending the state’s gaming legislation to require future license applicants to include in their proposal minority\MBE participation and\or contributing to HSBCUs. I believe that our efforts are a model for other states and jurisdictions.
What is the history behind the bid for a Gaming Licence you explain to readers and how it benefits students and College’s? I was invited to partner with Golden Nugget in a bid for a Virginia mobile sports betting license. I credit Golden Nugget because there was no requirement for a MBE or minority equity partner. Golden Nugget simply thought it was good business, which it was. As part of this new partnership, I proposed that our bid include a percentage of our revenues to local minority groups including the Virginia Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Golden agreed and we developed a sustainable program that will benefit these HBCUs for the life of
Reinvestment Program to develop policies and programs to direct gaming revenues to local communities.
What is your role at Bet on Gaming Holdings, LLC and what are the services the organisation provides? I’m a Principal at Bet on Gaming Holdings, LLC and BOGH is an investor in land based and mobile gaming. Our backgrounds consists of over 40 years in real estate development, equity and debt financing, casino development and mobile gaming operations. We launched our Gaming Entertainment Fund in 2020 to identify gaming investment opportunities and, in addition, operate our Community
Can you explain to readers the partnership deal with the Golden Nugget and your new sports betting app in Virginia? Bet on Gaming Holdings, LLC is an equity investor and partner in the Virginia Mobile Sports License. What are the expansion plans for your organisations digital sports betting and online gaming provisions outside of the State of Virginia? We are looking at several states. Given that we are one of the first minority owned mobile sports license owners sportsbettingoperator.com
FEATURE: DENNIS COTTO
“OUR BACKGROUNDS CONSISTS OF OVER 40 YEARS IN REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT, EQUITY AND DEBT FINANCING, CASINO DEVELOPMENT AND MOBILE GAMING OPERATIONS.” in the United States, we believe that we are in a unique position with our experience and capital to enter similar partnerships in other states where minority participation will be a requirement in their bidding process. Your organisation also has a Global Gaming Entertainment Fund what are the plans and aspirations for this initiative? Our Fund is designed to identify investment opportunities in both land based and digital gaming opportunities. A core part of our company’s business model is providing sustainable and meaningful community reinvestment. sportsbettingoperator.com
Can you explain how will funds be distributed back into communities? Yes. We partner with local community groups and establish a percentage of our revenues committed to these groups for the life of our license. These groups include, but are not limited to, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Affordable Housing NonProfits, Public School Systems. And finally, how can readers find out more about the Bet On Gaming Holdlings? Everyone is welcomed to visit our website at www.betongamingholdings.com or email me at Dcotto@Betongamingholdings.com 19
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FEATURE: ESPORTS AARON SPEACH
OUTWIT, OUTPLAY, OUTLAST
Aaron Speach, CEO, Esports Technologies (EBET), chats to Sports Betting Operator
n recent years there has been significant interest in, and high growth in esports, wagering and cryptocurrencies. In this issue, we connect with Aaron Speach, CEO of Esports Technologies, a young and dynamic firm expanding rapidly into international esports online wagering. sportsbettingoperator.com
ABOVE: Aaron Speach CEO Esports Technologies
Give us a background on Esports Technologies / Gogawi. How it got its start and how it got to where it is today. Esports Technologies was founded with a vision to meet what I saw, as the future demand for online wagering. As a championship gamer myself, I 21
FEATURE: ESPORTS AARON SPEACH understood that a massive audience, primarily of Millennials and the upcoming members of Gen Z, would embrace this technology. At Esports Technologies, we have assembled a team of esports gaming enthusiasts and industry veterans who are passionate about the evolution in this sector. Our focus is the gap between the traditional sports wagering experience and the new generation of sports betting — an opportunity to deliver a much better betting interface with the best odds. Our focus on the digital natives creates bigger expectations for how we deliver our content and incorporate it into a larger media ecosystem. We are focused on creating this experience and building a business and a technology platform around this opportunity with the goal to become leaders in esports wagering.
an opportunity to work with some mentors in the online sports betting space and realized these two industries were inevitably going to collide in a huge way. You have been described by some as a visionary in the industry. What advances do you see for Gogawi in the coming years? We see a substantial opportunity to differentiate ourselves in the esports gaming industry by expanding our offering in the following areas – esports predictive gaming and content, predictive consolidated data and data feeds, and bet matching engines. These are expected to offer users expanded overall odds, expanded esports cash-out offerings, and expanded live-betting.
What is your background? How did you get into esports betting? It all started with Starcraft. My mom bought the game for me on sale and right after I started the first match I was hooked. I would come home and
Esports Technologies is expected to go public in the coming weeks. Could you provide some further information on this? Esports Technologies Inc. completed its initial public offering under the Nasdaq ticker symbol EBET. The esports market is growing
play for four hours a day after school. Ultimately, I was ranking higher on the leaderboards and when I saw the first KESPA event I realized that Starcraft was even bigger in Asia, particularly in Korea. Over time it became clear to me that this would appeal to a large global audience. Early in my business career, I had
and evolving growing quickly. We believe there is a real need for betting platforms that can serve the public with favorable value and a wagering experience tailored to Esports that this new generation demands. An IPO offers many advantages that we anticipate will increase our brand visibility and credibility in the
“IT ALL STARTED WITH STARCRAFT. MY MOM BOUGHT THE GAME FOR ME ON SALE AND RIGHT AFTER I STARTED THE FIRST MATCH I WAS HOOKED. I WOULD COME HOME AND PLAY FOR FOUR HOURS A DAY AFTER SCHOOL.” 22
FEATURE: ESPORTS AARON SPEACH esports industry as it continues to grow. The IPO allows us to accelerate our marketing and customer acquisition plans, innovate and expand geographically as well. What challenges have you run into with Gogawi, and how did you overcome them? The Esports community is in the early days of formation. We have spent the last 5 years trying to understand what the community wants and needs so we can build effective meaningful engagement. Secondly, as esports is in its early days, we have had licensing and regulation roadblocks to overcome. For example in the US, we are not currently licensed, but our goal is to partner with licensed operators and we intend to introduce a “free to play” online esports experience so we can build a community with deep engagement that will continue when we are free to operate in the US. Our “free to play” experience will allow users to predict esports match winners and outcomes without wagering real money. This allows us to showcase our technology to the esports community and offer a fun experience to competitive esports fans. Meanwhile, we believe there is still a strong demand for our new product offerings in Asia and Latin America with relatively fewer competitors, so we remain focused on growth in those regions. It seems to be a rapidly expanding industry. What growth and innovations do you see in the igaming and esports betting industry in the near future? It certainly is. Compared to traditional sporting events, the esports audience size is close to 500 million. By comparison, the NFL has an audience size roughly of 160 million globally, so you can see the massive potential sportsbettingoperator.com
in this category. We believe wagering in this sector may surpass that of the NFL in the medium term. Licensing and regulation of the esports betting market is at an early stage in Europe and North America and people are clearly excited about the potential legalization of U.S. gaming and the growth of esports globally. Once established, we believe the market for our innovative platform and technologies will increase. In the short-term, we anticipate esports wagering sites will start accepting cryptocurrency as a betting currency, especially now that crypto has gone mainstream. Esports Technologies is already ahead of this curve. Gogawi.com now accepts more than 40 different cryptocurrencies, including Dogecoin and Bitcoin. We want our customers to have the best experience possible and facilitating cryptocurrency payments makes Gogawi versatile and easy to use. What are the strongest markets for Gogawi Sports Betting around the world? Right now, we are operating primarily in Asia and Latin America where our license allows us to operate and where there is strong demand for esports 23
FEATURE: ESPORTS AARON SPEACH
wagering. As the esports industry continues to evolve and if legalization expands into Europe and North America, we will look to expand our operations globally. I notice your website offers Simplified and Traditional Chinese options. Are there games offered by Gogawi that focus specifically on the Chinese market? Are there plans for additional languages? Our Esports Technologies vision is that we are building product to support the esports industry worldwide, including China. As we already have a SE Asia footprint with Gogawi.com, we are exploring operation and partnership opportunities in the region, including China. We do have plans for additional languages in our current roadmap for 2021. Is Gogawi Sports Betting available in the USA? If not, when will it be? Currently, Gogawi is not available in the U.S. due to licensing and regulation restrictions. As we discussed above, we plan on offering a free to play experience to begin developing a community of competitive esports fans.
ecosystem, how is Gogawi different from the others in the market? We believe esports fans consume media differently than traditional sports fans. As such, our experiences need to be different. The esports market is growing but is an unconsolidated market with a lot of small players right now. We view our largest competitors as the sports betting operators who are focused on the more established 45 and older demographic. Esports Technologies, however, is focused on capturing the emerging 18- to 45-year-old customer, and our goal is to give this demographic the wagering experience and favorable value that they expect and deserve. Is Gogawi tied into a cryptocurrency? Crypto currencies are very important to gaming in general. We have historically accepted deposits via bitcoin and we will continue to allow customers to deposit bitcoin in their respective accounts. However, we also have arrangements with several established third-party merchant and payment providers to accept all forms of customer payments and deposits, including Mastercard and Visa, in more than 25 currencies. Are you a frequent gamer? If so, do you have favorites? I don’t game as much as I used to, but when I do I love playing Civilizations 6 or the odd game of Overwatch, although I will be the first to admit that I am trash. Sports Betting Operator would like to thank Aaron Speach for sharing his in-depth insights into esports online wagering.
With regard to the esports wagering 24
FEATURE: VICTOR ROYER
SPORTS WAGERING TOPS IN USA
By: Victor H Royer
merican Sports Wagering is booming. And that seems an understatement as of today. After the US Supreme Court overturned the much-hated PASPA Act of 1992 (the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act) – which was struck down in 2018 in a case brought about by the State of New Jersey – this opened the door to Sports Wagering by individual US States. Some States acted quickly, and as a result have experienced enormous proceeds as a result – and the very-much-needed sportsbettingoperator.com
Tax revenue Sports Wagering makes possible for them. And some States charge hefty taxes on Sports Wagering indeed! Currently 30 US States – and the District of Columbia (Washington D.C.) – have some form of legalized Sports Wagering. Among these most charge taxes below 10%, which is in line with the established “norm” for the industry, as standardized mostly in Nevada. But Nebraska and Maryland have taxes in excess of 15%, while Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island charge 50% on Sports Wagering! And Pennsylvania – just next to New Jersey 25
FEATURE: VICTOR ROYER – charges 34%. In New Jersey – the State that made all this possible – tax rates are 15% for online games, 8.5% for Sports Wagering in person in the casino – and 13% for Sports Wagering online. So, this makes Sports Wagering a lot better in New Jersey, as opposed to neighboring Pennsylvania – a fact not lost on that State’s haphazard legislation and legislators. Despite this, Pennsylvania’s revenue from Sports Wagering continues to break all expected records. In the latest report from the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission, the last fiscal year produced almost $3.9 Billion in gaming revenue, smashing the previous records. This despite competition from New Jersey, with lower taxes, and despite the Pandemic. Or, perhaps, because of the Pandemic, when most of the US States, and the country in general, were shut down, leaving players happily wagering online from their homes. But all this is still only within each State – and requires each State Legislature to approve Sports Wagering, and then additionally provide for Sports Wagering licenses
it’s ruling, throwing the entirety of the US Online Wagering business into a mess yet again. Naturally, the DOJ was challenged on this re-interpretation immediately, and – just last month – failed to meet the deadline for appeal. So – at least for now, and for Online Poker especially – the original 2018 DOJ interpretation of the Wire Act as applying only to “sports” continues to make in possible for US States to form Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreements, such as those now existing between Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, which allows them to “share” online poker players. But Online Casinos, however – as well as Interstate Sports Wagering – are an entirely different nut to crack, and one that’s not so easy. As of this time, only the State of New Jersey allows full online casinos and games, in addition to in-person and mobile Sports Wagering. This limitation to just the State of New Jersey – it is hoped – will soon change … provided, of course, that the DOJ won’t insist on further clouding its 2018 interpretation of the Wire Act. The new US Attorney General, Merrick Garland, is under
and operators, and operating systems. Although this is often cumbersome, and long-in-the-tooth as far as speed of legislation, the recent Pandemic – which is still ongoing, sadly, in the USA and UK and elsewhere in the world to varying degrees – contributed significantly to the speedy adoption of Sports Wagering by many US States, desperate for tax revenue and for business recovery in general. What’s still preventing Sports Wagering – and Online Casinos and, particularly, Online Poker – from being adopted across the USA, is the 1961 Wire Act. Although the Wire Act was ruled as applying only to “sports” in 2018, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) later backtracked and reversed
increasingly intense pressure to clarify this 2018 DOJ interpretation, and, perhaps even more so, to entirely vacate the 1961 Wire Act altogether. In 1961 the intent was to prevent Organized Crime from dominating the illegal wagering and Sports Wagering business, which even then produced enormous profits for the Mob, and no taxes for the government. Today, the Sports Wagering business in the USA alone clocks in at over $150 Billion annually! And while such enormous sums were unheard-of in 1961, the sums generated at that time from illegal sports wagering, horseracing, and illegal casinos, still produced staggering amounts of money for organized crime. And the enormity of
FEATURE: VICTOR ROYER
“IN 1961 THE INTENT WAS TO PREVENT ORGANIZED CRIME FROM DOMINATING THE ILLEGAL WAGERING AND SPORTS WAGERING BUSINESS, WHICH EVEN THEN PRODUCED ENORMOUS PROFITS FOR THE MOB, AND NO TAXES FOR THE GOVERNMENT.” these sums wasn’t lost on the goodytwo-shoes legislators in 1961, who realized they ain’t getting a piece of the action and so – nah-nah-nah-nah – they passed the 1961 Wire Act to make it even more difficult for the illicit trade in the second oldest profession of human kind – Sports and Horseracing bets. But in 1961 betting across State lines actually required a “wire” – because at the time there weren’t any such things as the Internet, or Wi-Fi, or anything like that. And no one at that time could have possibly foreseen the enormity of the technological advances which would make the 1961 Wire Act – as written – today so completely obsolete as it is now. Even ridiculously obsolete, and perhaps humorously so
Smart Phone is the speaker on the desk from the TV Series “Mad Men” – and whose combined understanding of the 21st century seems to be buried in re-runs of Leave It To Beaver. And, of course, we can throw in the religious zealots who think than everything is a Sin – unless, of course, it’s the funding drive for their coffers, when all of a sudden gambling is OK (as long as they get the cash). In all of this, of course, there’s one overriding principle for everyone – and that’s revenue. As the saying goes: Money Talks, BS Walks. And so it’s always been. Today, all US States, and the entirety of the USA itself, as well as the UK, Europe, and everywhere else in the world where gaming is possible – all of these concerns have
– if it wasn’t still being held up as the “standard” – keeping online and sports wagering hog-tied to an age long gone, and legalities, moralities, and policies so outdated that they seem truly ancient to everyone. Ask anyone under 30 what is a Telegraph, and they’ll look at you equally as confused as if you showed them a photo of a coin-operated Phone Booth, and asked them to identify it. While America leads the world in many ways, the speed of its Democracy is not one of them. And neither is the understanding by the powers that are – who seem to be mostly old white men who appear to think that a historical reference to a Blackberry is a breakfast Jam, and a
one concern in common, and that is money. Or, rather, the lack thereof. In terms of Tax revenue, of course. Cashstrapped States, and gaming industries in general, all collectively drool at the prospect of getting their share of the $150 Billion-plus annual US Sports Wagering market – with full interstate online poker compacts not so far behind – and full-suite online State-byState casino gaming soon thereafter. And the Pandemic has accelerated these concerns, and has indeed also so accelerated the respective State Legislatures into getting off their collectively dusty duffs, and onto the voting stools to pass the required laws to make all this possible for them as well, in their State.
FEATURE: VICTOR ROYER So – what is the State of the US States? Here is a list of those that currently have some form of legalized Sports Wagering, and what kind they offer: Name of the US State Nevada Delaware New Jersey Mississippi West Virginia New Mexico Pennsylvania Rhode Island Arkansas Iowa Oregon Indiana New Hampshire Illinois Michigan Montana Colorado Washington, D.C. Tennessee Virginia North Carolina
What they offer Everything (0f course) In-person and mobile In-person and mobile In-person only In-person and mobile In-person only In-person and mobile In-person and mobile In-person only In-person and mobile In-person and mobile In-person and mobile Mobile only In-person and mobile In-person and mobile In-person only In-person and mobile In-person and mobile Mobile only Online In-person only
Restrictions (if any) None None No College Sports Wagering* None None No College Sports Wagering* None No College Sports Wagering* No College Sports Wagering* No Props on in-State college sports Several ** No Props on in-State college sports No College Sports Wagering* No bets on minor-leagues and college* None None None No bets on college-games played in DC None No College Sports Wagering* Only two retail locations so far
Additionally, the following States are “almost there” with Sports Wagering in varying degrees and forms: Washington, Maryland, South
The Business of the Business of Sports Wagering
Dakota, Louisiana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Arizona, Florida, and Connecticut. And the following States are still dragging their feet, but have begun to at least consider Sports Wagering legislation: Oklahoma, Maine, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri,
the actual “business” that makes it possible. And that’s where the Suppliers and Operators come in. Among the Operators currently active in the USA are: DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, William Hill, FOX Bet, PointsBet Sportsbook, Unibet
Kansas, South Carolina, California, Ohio, Hawaii, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, Alabama, Alaska and North Dakota. Finally, Idaho and Wisconsin have yet to even begin considerations on Sports Wagering in their States. And, of course, Utah is unlikely to ever have it at all. Or any other gambling.
Sportsbook, BetRivers Sportsbook, theScore Bet Sportsbook, and Parx in Pennsylvania. Major International Corporations supply products and services to the online gaming and – specifically – Sports Wagering industry. The two biggest players are, of course, IGT and Scientific Games. IGT – International Games Technology – headquartered in Italy and the UK, along with its major manufacturing and systems base in
* No betting on games involving in-state college teams. ** None at Chinook Winds Casino Resort; Sportsbooks operated by the Oregon Lottery do not allow wagering on in-state college games.
Naturally the business of the business of Sports Wagering also requires
FEATURE: VICTOR ROYER Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada, USA – currently provide Sports Wagering support and suites to 17 US States. Similarly so, Scientific Games (SG) also provide their respective systems and support to 17 US States, as of the time of this writing.*** *** Since the writing of this original story for SBO magazine, Scientific Games has announced the sale of all of their Sports Wagering and Lottery assets. Reportedly for $1.3 Billion for their Sports Wagering assets, and $750 million for their Lottery assets. This information and figures are as yet unconfirmed as of the time of this update.
But let us also note that because of fiscal necessity changes in Sports Wagering legislation are happening quickly, and so it is with the providers and the companies making the Sports Wagering systems and support possible. As a result, some of the details in this article may have advanced by the time this reaches press, and thereafter as time goes on. However, the basis upon which this is being offered still remains as is, and as viable as always. In conclusion, Sports Wagering in the USA is here to stay. Notwithstanding any grumbling by anti-gambling foes – and other groups universally opposed to anything that makes living fun and worthwhile – it is now highly unlikely that any Government, be it State or Federal, will just throw away tax revenue from the current $150 Billion-plus annual cash-cow – growing ever-more-fat by the moment. Especially so given the circumstances of the Pandemic and its aftermath on each State’s economy, as well as the entirety of the USA itself. And, of course, the rest of the world. But American politics can be a strange fellow indeed. In 2006 all those religious zealots forced the UIGEA legislation on the entire country, and by so doing simply threw away tax revenue from the then $20 Billion annual Poker Boom revenue. sportsbettingoperator.com
Maybe they’ve learned their lesson, but who knows? Maybe some nitwit somewhere in the near future will cause so much fuss and ruckus that the politicians will once again fear their most terrible fear – that of not being re-elected – and will again cow-down to such forces of sheer stupidity. And should this happen – and truly hopefully not so – the bright star that is America today will perhaps again fade just a little bit, and descend yet again into the darkness of sectionalized isolationism which may once again bring about the Dark Ages of online and Sports Wagering, just as they so did when these zealots killed off the Poker Boom in 2006. And if this happens, then shame on all of us – because We The People let it happen. But, well...perhaps this conclusion is indeed merely a fable of possible horrors – those that never again shall be. Victor H Royer is President of Gaming Services & Research. He is a 38 year veteran of Las Vegas gaming, a 30+ year consultant to the gaming industry, author of 55 books, and more than 8,000 articles on casino games and gaming. In addition he has researched and authored hundreds of industry reports on the subject of player preferences, marketing, player development and customer relations. He can be reached at: DrVHR@aol.com 29
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FEATURE: RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS
SPORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS
Setting New Standards in Technology
resorts World Las Vegas, and their sportsbook, have opened to rave reviews earlier this summer, ushering a new era as the most technologically advanced integrated resort on the Strip. As the first significant resort opening on the Las Vegas Strip in ten years, we’re pleased to catch up with Rick Hutchins, SVP of Casino Operations at Resorts World Las Vegas. Could you give us a bit on your background. What led you into the casino gaming industry, and what brought you to Las Vegas and Resorts World? 32
I’ve been in the gaming industry for 35 years since moving to Nevada from Wyoming in 1986. I was looking for a change in my career, although I was not particularly looking for anything in gaming. Back then, the casino industry in Laughlin was booming, which is where I first got started. I later moved to Las Vegas to start a position at what was then Circus Circus Enterprises. The company was later purchased by Mandalay Resort Group, and then merged with MGM Resorts. It was fortunate that one interview led to 29 years with the organization. After working on some amazing things with the company, I decided I wanted something different. Scott sportsbettingoperator.com
FEATURE: RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS Sibella, who I previously worked with at The Mirage and Circus Circus, had just joined Resorts World Las Vegas as president and called me about an opportunity to join the opening team. I jumped at the chance to build something from scratch, hire a team of amazing people and be part of the newest resort development on the Strip in over 10 years. Resorts World Las Vegas is considered to be the most technologically advanced casino in the U.S. What advanced technology has been deployed in the property? It’s been over ten years since a major resort has been built on the Las Vegas Strip, so we knew we wanted to take advantage of the advancements in technology and bring new experiences to the property. We are very focused on using technology to enhance each touchpoint of the guest experience from check in to check out. Key features include the mobile check-in and digital key capabilities available through Hilton Honors. We also partnered with Grubhub to develop On The Fly at Resorts World, a firstof-its-kind mobile ordering experience that allows guests to conveniently order via the Grubhub app from many of the resort’s 40 food and beverage concepts, as well as select retail shops for pickup or delivery to guestrooms or the resort’s 5.5-acre pool complex. At Famous Foods, guests can conveniently order from any of the 16 food stalls at one kiosk. When their order(s) is ready, the guest is notified via text message. We also have Red, our AI-powered digital concierge, where the guest can text or chat for assistance with room reservations, housekeeping requests and provide information about the property at any time. With our casino technology, we sportsbettingoperator.com
really wanted to have an integrated technology solution that covered not only our slots, but our table games and loyalty program as well. Industry executives have said that we are really creating the path for other properties on the Strip and the industry as a whole to advance some of their own goals that they have been looking at for years. As a new resort, we had the benefit of building the infrastructure with new technologies and plans for the future. We believe we have the bandwidth to advance in the future as other products and advances are released. 33
FEATURE: RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS Knowing of the technology infrastructure and bandwidth of older properties, we know how hard it is to implement the newest technologies. We had the benefit to be able to implement the new technologies as well as plan for the future. The sportsbook is run “in-house”. What impact does that have on operations, and is there benefit to the customer? When we were building our sportsbook and putting the entire programming together, we researched third parties and various partners to understand how we wanted to move
forward and decided to bring this inhouse. We feel that we can create a more personalized experience with the consumer since we are responsible for setting the odds and managing the lines that guests are betting on at the retail counter or through the Resorts World mobile app. Additionally, we strive to provide the best guest experience throughout the property, including the sportsbook. By operating the sportsbook in-house, we are able to build on the existing employee culture and deliver friendly and engaging customer service in the sportsbook – and throughout the resort. RW had integrated Entertainment into the Sportsbook to offer a unique experience for guests. Could you give more details? With the advent of mobile betting and kiosks, we don’t need large retail counters or the stadium style seating. We wanted to do it differently with a completely engaged environment, which is why the sportsbook is situated inside Dawg House. Dawg House Saloon & Sportsbook is a 17,000-square-foot entertainment zone with dining, bars and a stage for live music. Within the venue is a 4,000-square-foot sportsbook, where guests can have a traditional viewing experience with couches, recliners and high-top seating. The sportsbook has a curved 15-foot LCD screen along the wall where they can view the game, the fight or whatever is going on in the Olympics. What is the demographic focus of Resorts World Las Vegas? We built the resort to compete in the Las Vegas market domestically and internationally. We do hope that once international travel opens that
FEATURE: RESORTS WORLD LAS VEGAS we can leverage the strength of our sister properties, because they have great customers. Genting Group has a long legacy in gaming in Malaysia, Singapore and across Asia. We plan to leverage that and take full advantage of our East Coast relationships in New York and Bimini to help drive customers to Las Vegas. We want Resorts World Las Vegas to be their choice when visiting the city. There are other facilities in Las Vegas that have large sportsbooks. How does Resort World’s Sports World fit into the mix? The sportsbook and sports-betting industry has really exploded nationwide. At Resorts World Las Vegas, we want our sportsbook to first and foremost cater to our guests. We have a lot of both gaming and nongaming customers who stay at the property and we want to provide them with the best sportsbook experience. There have been a lot of industry executives commending us for taking the leap and pushing the boundaries with technology. We have about eight gaming field trials going on with our casino technology, and it all begins with our Resorts World Las Vegas mobile app. The app provides the option for cashless wagering at slots and table games. We have our Smart Table and RFID technology which allows all the players’ winnings to be tracked with 100% accuracy at the table games. They do not have to visit the cage to cash out their chips, but rather will be given a TITO (Ticket-in-Ticket out) ticket that can be redeemed at a kiosk, or used at slot machines or another table game. This is the first Las Vegas resort that has really integrated slots, table games and a loyalty program into one ubiquitous solution. We’re proud sportsbettingoperator.com
of this! Though we understand we’re in the infancy stage, we believe we have created a path for Resorts World Las Vegas and the future of the gaming industry as a whole. The Technical Division of the Nevada Gaming Control Board has been very supportive in helping us as we worked through these integrations, and they’re holding us accountable to get it right. Sports Betting Operator Magazine would like to thank Rick Hutchins for sharing the significant advances they’ve made with Resorts World Las Vegas. 35
FEATURE: CASH IS KING IN SPORTS
CASH IS KING IN SPORTS
By: Victor H Royer
hile the rest of the gaming industry seems to push head-first into the maelstrom of cashless gaming – which is a Dead Duck upon arrival, and has always been a Dead Duck from its ridiculous inception – Sports Wagering is different. Somehow – seemingly against all possible odds and
any such things as Smart Phones, Tablets, Internet, or Wi-Fi, cash-inperson was the only way to make a bet on sports. And the same applied to the Billions of illegal sports bets made by people all over the US, and elsewhere in the world, with their local “bookies.” And even when Smart Phones, the Internet, and Mobile access became commonplace, old and ancient and out-of-date gaming regulations – even
expectations – Sports Wagering has managed to strike what seems to be the perfect balance between real-cash sports betting, and “virtual” or Mobile cashless wagering. But that’s really not that far-fetched. When Sports Betting was only allowed in Nevada, and there weren’t
in States like Nevada – still prohibited Sports Players to place bets remotely, using a “virtual wallet.” And then, in Nevada, came a relaxation, which at the time stipulated that Sports Players who set up a remote-access account in a casino Sports Book, in person, and deposit the required minimum
FEATURE: CASH IS KING IN SPORTS deposit of money – in cash, of course – would then be allowed to make Sports Bets remotely, first by phone – you know, those bulky old things with a cord – and then, later, with their Smart Phones. But it wasn’t until the 1961 Wire Act and the much-hated PASPA were “relaxed” or “re-interpreted” that the Sports Boom, as we see it today, truly exploded in the United States. And just like the Poker Boom of 2003, Sports Wagering is breaking all records and surpassing all expectations. But unlike the stupidity of the politicians in 2006 – when they passed the UIGEA, and by so doing killed off $20 Billion in annual taxable revenue (more than $40 Billion by today’s standards) – here, in 2021, cash-strapped States, and the Feds, are all agog over Sports Betting. It’s the cash-cow they’ve been panting for, not only to help them recover from the effects of the Pandemic, but also from horrendous budget shortfalls, many of which were – and continue to be – the inevitable results of earlier legislative stupidities. As of the time of this writing – August of 2021 – much has changed in the world of Sports Wagering, which continues to expand exponentially everywhere, and not just in the USA. In Canada, for example, single-game sports betting was just approved – although at this time no one is quite sure what that means. We all guess it means that Canadians will now be able to bet on single sports events – whatever such may be. Legislative, and perhaps legal, clarification is no doubt soon to come. And even in arch-conservative and “religious” States, like Tennessee, there are now a couple of Sports Books available, just in time for the American Football season (that’s “American” football, which really should be called “Toss-Ball” because the ball is always sportsbettingoperator.com
RIGHT: Victor H Royer
“tossed” and rarely actually “kicked” with a “foot”). And the spread of Sports Betting in America continues. Even the tribes in Connecticut have finally agreed with the State on how to run Sports Books. And major Sports Betting Operators, like BetMGM, Draft Kings, Fan Duel, and so on – many of which I have mentioned in my other recent article – continue to snap up relationships with Sports Teams and Sponsors, forever so firmly embedding Spots Wagering among the fiscal requirements of local and State Governments, and Federal Tax founds, that it’s now quite unlikely that any future local, State, or Federal change of government can, or will, 37
FEATURE: CASH IS KING IN SPORTS dislodge them – and waste all that nice, juicy, tax money. Like they did in 2006 with the UIGEA, which killed online and live Poker everywhere. And lost the government billions in taxable revenue as a result. And juicy money it is, indeed. By the end of 2020, while still in the midst of the Pandemic, US Sports Wagering revenue was around $3 Billion. Yes, that Billion, with a “B” as in “Big Bucks.” And by the beginning 0f 2021, that grew by almost 55% – and the end of that growth curve is nowhere in sight. Daily, it seems, new Sports Books, new Sports Wagering legislation, and new Sports Betting arrangements and options become more and more available. And that means more growth, and more of those “Big Bucks.” There are now even agreements, and permissions, for what’s called “Micro-
the local “bookie-joints” which still exist, and which can still take your action. In cash only, of course. Bottom line – while cashless gaming is a Dead Duck for real-world Casinos, it’s always been here for Online Poker, Online Casinos, and now for Mobile and Remote Sports Wagering. And that’s the logical progression – from an Online Poker Wallet, to the Online Casino Wallet, and now to a Mobile, Remote, or Online Sports Betting account (and wallet). But cashless gaming in a real-world casino? Why? What’s the point? If you can make a Sports Bet from your Phone, why would you spend thousands of dollars on a plane ticket to a casino, or a drive to a casino, and pay Hotel Fees with hidden “facility” and “usage” fees, and then pay to park your car for the privilege of
Wagering” – which means that players (or Punters) are now able to make their bets in-game, such as, for example, pitch-by-pitch in Baseball, and play-by-play in Football (that American version of it), and even playby-play-within-a-play. Some of that has already been available in Nevada, as long as you were sitting the Casino Sports Book and made your bets on the console in front of you, from an account you set up earlier at the Desk. And so – how is all that money being wagered? In cash about half the time, and by Mobile, or remotely, the other half. And, of course, this doesn’t count
losing your money in their casino – and then, when you get there – make your bets using a Cashless Kiosk? Why? What’s the point, then? You can do all this from home using your phone or your computer, and save all those thousands of dollars to make Sports Bets, instead of wasting them on a trip to a real-world casino – only to find it’s all cashless, and – hence – no different to your betting when using your Smart Phone from home. And that’s why Cash should always be King in the real-world Casino, and in real-world Casino Sports Books.
NEWS: G2E REED
SPORTS GAMBLING PODCAST NETWORK (SGPN) Colby Dant provides the ‘College Football Experience’
he exhaustive approach of Sports Gambling Podcast Network (SGPN) college football expert Colby Dant stands out in the blizzard of information available to growing audiences simply because Dant makes a call on every single game. A total of over 100 games are offered up by wagering platforms each week and Dant has a read on virtually all of them because he spent the summer doing a pre-season forecast sportsbettingoperator.com
on each of the 130 FBS football teams, including recommendations on over/ under regular season win total wagers for all. Each was posted and transcribed for www.sportsgamblingpodcast. com, home of the only independently owned and operated sports gambling media network that places a premium on entertainment value. The predictive podcasts are most readily available on the SGPN app, downloadable at Apple’s App Store, the Google Play 39 35
NEWS: G2E REED
“I BARELY HAVE TIME TO SEE MY WIFE. I FELL ASLEEP IN THE OFFICE THE OTHER NIGHT, JUST LIKE THESE CRAZED FOOTBALL COACHES WHO CAN’T GET AWAY FROM THE FILM,” STATED DANT. “MIKE LEACH, A FRIEND OF THE PROGRAM, IS KNOWN TO BE OFF THE WALL AND THAT’S THE WAY I’M FEELING NOW AS WE HEAD INTO WEEK FOUR.” Store, and from www.SportsGamblingPodcast.com. After immersing himself in college football since he first became aware of the excitement and prominence of the sports as a pre-teen, Dant, 38, has a knowledge base and confidence that serves his audiences well. His regularly scheduled podcast, the “College Football Experience” has charted in the top 100 multiple times on various platforms. He is now in his fifth year delivering free analysis and predictions on his favorite sport for SGPN. “I barely have time to see my wife. I fell asleep in the office the other night,
stated Dant. “Mike Leach, a friend of the program, is known to be off the wall and that’s the way I’m feeling now as we head into week four.“ Among Dant’s most assertive recommendations for this week are calls on the biggest games scheduled. He likes Arkansas plus 5.5 over Texas A&M, Notre Dame plus 5.5 over Wisconsin in Chicago and Cal plus 7 over Washington. His reasoning is available in depth on the website and podcasts.
just like these crazed football coaches who can’t get away from the film,” About SGPN Sports Gambling Podcast Network™ was established in 2011 as one of the first website/ digital media platforms to provide consumers with an entertainment experience featuring sophisticated insight and analysis plus definitive wagering recommendations and selections across the full spectrum of legally-available sports. Co-founded by sports and entertainment personalities Sean Green and Ryan Kramer, it is home to the Top 40 AllTime football podcast (per Chartable.com) Sports Gambling Podcast, one of 11 separate podcasts. The website, www.sportsgamblingpodcast.com, boasts over 45 contributors delivering editorial content and social media postings under the SGPN banner. The platform generates millions of unique page views and podcast downloads annually and remains a primary destination for the burgeoning population of sports fans across America and around the world. In addition to his stand-up comedy act, Green is an accomplished TV comedy and script writer with credits including MTV’s Ridiculousness and Nickelodeon’s Crashletes with Rob Gronkowski. He has also anchored several sports wagering and fantasy sports shows for SiriusXM and ESPN+. Kramer is a SiriusXM contributor and a sports wagering marketplace influencer who specializes in NFL game prop bet predictions. He has multiple top finishes in the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) Main Event. SGPN is a member of the Fantasy Sports Gaming Association (FSGA).
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