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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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.