Global Gaming Expo Highlights Future of Legalized U.S. Sports Betting

The 2017 Global Gaming Expo opens today in Las Vegas, with a focus on legalized sports betting in the U.S.

Sports betting is front and center at the 2017 Global Gaming Expo

The Global Gaming Expo (G2E) brings the future of gambling to Las Vegas each year, and this year's event runs from Oct. 2 through Oct. 5 at the Sands Expo on the Las Vegas Strip. More than 25,000 people are expected to attend the event, including many iGaming companies.

The Global Gaming Expo is the world's premier casino-entertainment event where gaming executives and buyers meet in the Las Vegas to see the most in-depth source of new products, learn the latest information and network. First held in 2001 and presented by the American Gaming Association (AGA), G2E has become one of the world's largest gaming trade shows. More than 425 companies and organizations will display goods and services and showcase their products on the exhibit floor.

I'll be attending G2E, and covering the events with a focus on the sports betting and legalization panels which will be hot topics again this year at the Expo.

The G2E provides gaming education sessions with hundreds of gaming experts sharing insight through interactive panel discussions. Topics in sports betting include the legalization of sports betting, the growth and future of mobile betting, and the integrity, regulation and opportunity of sports betting. Also, Tribal interests along with eSports and iGaming within sports betting will be discussed. Las Vegas sports book directors will also discuss how legal and regulated sports betting works, as sports betting continues to explode in the U.S. with billions of dollars wagered illegally each year.

Ervin 'Magic' Johnson will be a keynote speaker and add his thoughts on the future of sports betting in America and the ramifications of legal sports betting.

G2E sports bettingThe discussion is timely, as the Supreme Court is reviewing the constitutionality of the law prohibiting sports betting across the country, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The AGA continues to lobby to repeal the law and legalize sports betting nationwide.

Last year, I talked with former NBA Commissioner David Stern at G2E following his key note forum and appearance. The longtime Commissioner had been a strict advocate against sports betting, but has changed some of his thoughts more towards current Commissioner Adam Silver's stance of legalization.

"There should be federal legislation that says, 'Let's go all the way' and have betting on sports. It's OK. It's going to be properly regulated," the former commissioner has stated.

The NBA's Philadelphia 76er's CEO Scott O'Neil also spoke out, "If you fast forward 10 years, I think we'll be betting on games live." When asked if there will be a time when fans can place a bet at an arena, he said 'Absolutely. You want there to be regulation, and it to be centralized and controlled, and I think there's an opportunity to improve fan engagement."

Many legislators, law enforcement and gambling advocates are pushing for the removal of PASPA, a 1992 federal law that restricts all but a handful of states (Nevada, Oregon, Montana and Delaware) from legalizing sports gambling. Of course, here in Nevada, the gaming capital of the United States, sports betting is legal and is the only state to offer single-game wagering.

With the help of gambling advisory boards, the American Gaming Association, law enforcement officials, the current New Jersey Supreme Court case supporters and other advocates, we're likely to see legal sports betting offered in states in the near future.

I was invited to attend another two-day sports betting session at UNLV last month as a media member and sports betting analyst. Robert Horgan, the Operations Director for the International Center for Gaming Regulation at UNLV, provided me the opportunity to attend, interact and learn more on sports betting from gaming law experts, special investigators from the Nevada Gaming Control Board and industry insiders. Greg Gemignani is a Las Vegas-based gaming law and online gaming expert who provided valuable insight. So did Chris Grove, a managing director at Eilers & Krejcik Gaming, LLC. Their firm tracks state-by-state gambling legislation. He says a new market would be worth more than $6 billion should legal sports betting be offered in more than 30 states, which is projected if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of New Jersey's quest to offer such gambling.

Estimates show that Americans are already betting up to $60 billion annually using offshore sites and bookies, Grove said. It's an industry that generates some $3 billion in revenue each year from U.S. customers.

"We estimate that a properly regulated market could be worth nearly five times that amount, resulting in a financial windfall for sports betting operators, sports leagues and media and state governments alike," Grove said.

Geoff Freeman, President and CEO of American Gaming Association (AGA) will again speak at G2E. He'll address the current state of the casino industry and also discuss sports betting and other topics.

In 2015, the American Gaming Association launched an initiative to expose massive illegal gambling market β€” $150 billion a year for sports gambling, it says β€” and that led to the formation of the advisory group. That group participated in a summit in Washington D.C. and other panels and discussions. The conclusions and recommendations are that individual states must play a central role and illegal sports betting fuels criminal enterprises.

In addition to sports betting and gaming, online poker could benefit from the G2E event as the skill versus luck debate continues. Skill-based casino games will again be a topic of discussion.

But the focus is on sports betting, as public opinion continues to shift and momentum builds in favor of a legal and regulated sports betting market. Let's hope that the federal law of PASPA is repealed, and that the states decide whether they will offer sports betting within a legal framework.

FairwayJay is a leading national sports handicapper and is recognized as one of the sports industry's most insightful analysts. Read more great insights from Jay here and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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