Apparently, foreign operators have been waiting for years to pounce on the stateside market. According to a 2018 Bloomberg News report,
William Hill had its eye on New Jersey as early as 2011, when state lawmakers starting challenging the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.
Bostonbased daily fantasy sports provider FanDuel was acquired by Paddy Power Betfair in May 2018, right after the Supreme Court ruling that nullified PASPA. And on May 14, 2018, the same day the ruling came down, Kambi CEO Kristian Nylen issued a statement saying the Swedish company had been planning “since its inception” a decade before to break into the new market.
“I cannot speak for other suppliers, but we were ready, we were diligent, and we had boots on the ground in the U.S.,” says Kambi U.S. Director Max Bischel. The global B2B sports book operator broke into New Jersey with Hard Rock and Rush Street Interactive’s PlaySugarHouse sports books and is looking to go coast to coast as more markets open.
Bischel dismisses claims that Nevada providers should have had first dibs on New Jersey.
“I think there’s a very large element of protectionism there,” he says. “We’ve been doing this for the better part of 10 years in Sweden, the U.K., Germany, South America, Africa—it’s something we’re used to doing, and we have the flexibility to meet local and regional regulatory needs. Companies in Nevada can’t say who’s an expert and who’s not.
The question is, who’s going to give the consumer what they need?” The speed of growth in New Jersey “puts it on par” with Nevada, Bischel says.
“We’re seeing a lot of very sharp people coming over to the U.S. who know what they’re doing to adjust and understand the American market and can do it with relatively little trouble.”
Tom Washington, head of communications for London-based Genius Sports and BetGenius, acknowledges the competitiveness,
“a sense that people are coming in and telling U.S. operators how to do things they’ve been doing for decades.
“I remember going to conferences five, six years ago and hearing stories of European companies going in and selling to U.S. casinos in the wrong way—it was probably overconfidence, a bit of arrogance, like, ‘Here’s how we do it over in the U.K. and Europe; we’re sure you’re going to do the same and we’ll show you how to do it.’ It didn’t go over very well, clearly.
What’s a no-brainer for companies like ours is to hire local expertise on the ground, which is what we’ve done.” The group now has more than 100 U.S.-based staffers.
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