The Future of Sports Gambling in the Hospitality Industry

The Aftermath of Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association

By Elizabeth DeConti Shareholder, GrayRobinson, P.A. | December 30, 2018

The Nature of Sports Gambling and The Public Policy Debate

Sports gambling by nature is not a lottery or a game of chance; rather, the activity involves the bettor making conscious selection of a team or a play based on a skilled analysis of various pieces of information, including but not limited to team standings/scores, rosters, injury lists, weather, and location of play. One definition is:

"[C]ommercial sports betting means wagering money or anything of value on the outcome of a sporting event, or a portion of a sporting event, for the chance of a monetary gain or an item of value, where the bettor has the opportunity to exercise skill in selecting the wager. This includes, among other activities:

  •        betting on the winner of a sporting event, such as a college basketball game, or a series of sporting     events, such as a college basketball tournament;
  •        betting on the difference in points participating teams will earn in an event, such as the 'point spread' in a     professional football game;
  •        betting on the outcome of a portion of a sporting event, such as a quarter of a basketball game or a down     of a football game."

 State of Colorado Formal Opinion No. 18-02 (Aug. 2, 2018)

 In an environment where sports betting is legal, it is easy to imagine how numerous types of hospitality businesses could see opportunities to draw new customers and increase the spend of existing customers. Any premises with some tie in to sports could create a correlation. Golf clubs, sports bars, hotel lounges, and other businesses could develop programming. Add in the online components on the guests' smartphones, and the possibilities are almost overwhelming. Nevertheless, there are two sides to the argument of whether sports gambling is a societal benefit.

The American Sports Betting (The American Sports Betting Coalition is an arm of the American Gaming Association, which is the leading trade group for the United States casino industry) has developed goals for a legal sports betting market. These goals are: (1) to protect integrity (by creating a national repository for betting data); (2) to destroy the illegal market (by establishing reasonable tax rates, as well as platforms that are attractive to consumers at a reasonable price); (3) to protect consumers (with rules and responsible advertising); and (4) to generate revenue.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.