When a New Jersey racetrack and a casino start taking bets on sporting events Thursday, they will be part of an industry primed for tremendous growth, much of it taking place on smartphones, according to a panel of national gambling experts.
Speaking Wednesday at the east Coast Gaming Congress at Harrah's casino in Atlantic City, a panel of sports betting and technology company representatives predicted the fastest-growing segment of sports betting will be bets made on smartphones as games are being played.
While bettors always will want to bet on the outcome of a game before it begins, many also want to predict particular plays or developments within a game, the panelists said.
So in addition to wagering on whether the New York Yankees would beat the Boston Red Sox, many gamblers also would want to bet on whether Yankee Aaron Judge would hit a home run just as he arrives at the plate, or how many batters Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale would strike out in a particular inning.
Such betting is the main element of growth in the European sports betting market.
"The growth of in-play has been a huge driver," said Neale Deeley, vice president of Sportradar US, a data company that works with more than 70 sports federations and leagues around the world on fraud detection, including the NBA, NHL and Major League Soccer.
"Mobile and in-play were absolutely made for each other," added Lee Richardson, CEO of Spectrum Gaming Group, a gambling consulting firm near Atlantic City. "It's what customers want to do."
The forum came a day before New Jerseyans were to begin placing their first legal sports bets. Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy was to place the state's first legal sports bet at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Monmouth Park, a horse racing track near the Jersey shore in Oceanport.
Thirty minutes later and about 70 miles to the south, Atlantic City's Borgata casino will start taking sports bets.
No other New Jersey racetrack or casino has announced plans to begin taking bets within the next few days, although most if not all are expected to do so eventually. The Golden Nugget casino and the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, near New York City say they'll have sports betting operations up and running by the start of football season in September.
New Jersey's Division of Gaming Enforcement issued its regulations for sports betting providers Wednesday, clearing the last major obstacle for it to begin.
The state won a U.S. Supreme Court case last month clearing the way for all 50 states to offer legal sports betting if they choose.
Experts at the conference cautioned against unduly optimistic projections of sports betting revenue and tax money for states; the activity accounts for about 2 percent of Nevada casinos' total winnings. In New Jersey, Moody's has estimated sports betting could initially bring in $108 million, or about 4 percent of the state's annual gambling revenue.
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