Mobile Sports Betting to Reach $45 billion by 2017

I'll bet you don't know how big the mobile gambling market is.  In a word, huge.  And it's coming to America.  In the UK, mobile gambling has been around for a while.  With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, it's taking off.  A new report shows that 40% of online bets placed in the UK last year were from a mobile device, such as a smartphone or a tablet.  And 20% of all sports bets placed in UK were from mobile devices. This is big news for companies preparing for the mobile gaming revolution here in the US. Customers want mobile gaming, and whoever delivers first and best will gain market share in no time.

Just how much money are we talking about?

Last year, $13 billion in bets were placed via mobile devices worldwide, and that number is expected to increase to $45 billion by 2017. Much of that growth is expected to come from the US. Mobile gaming is currently only legal in Nevada.  Efforts are underway in New Jersey and Illinois to follow in Nevada's footsteps.  As these and other states open their doors to the smartphone betting (and subsequent state revenues), mobile betting dollars will grow.

Who’s getting in on the action?

William Hill, Ladsbrokes, and Paddy Power are three big wigs in the online gaming industry, and they’re already staking their claim in Nevada. William Hill acquired 3 sportsbooks for $55 million this year, Ladsbrokes bought 65% of a mobile gaming software supplier, and Paddy Power is up for review by the Nevada Gaming Control Board regarding their ability to do business in the state. These entities are keen on the forecasted $45 billion market and are prepping to capitalize on it.

Why should CLOs care?

Even if your company has nothing to do with gaming or gambling, if you lead the location agenda in your company, you should watch what is happening in the mobile gaming industry.  First, gaming is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country.  How regulators and state agencies (like the Nevada Gaming Control Board) treat mobile transaction is a harbinger for regulator considerations in other industries, such as banking and workforce management.  Second, in the gaming industry (not the Zynga type, but the Caesars type), each state is different.  Tax dollars drive decisions, and geofences define boundaries.  So if your business operates acorss state lines (as most do), watch how the various states tackle the opportunities and risks associated with smartphone wagering.  Third, network location (the kind provided by my company Locaid) is a requirement for authenicated, verified location.  This is also true in banking, workforce management, or in any location-enabled use case where the company's Chief Location Officer cannot rely solely on a GPS or WiFi location to make a decision.  (Locaid is a supplier of location data of mobile devices, including phones and tablets.  Locaid is the only network location service within the apps approved by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to provide secure and accurate location data.)

CLO take: Location data will be a key requirement for any wage-taking gaming app, as a user’s physical location within a state with legalized online gambling must be verified to allow them to take part.  What happens in Vegas will not stay in Vegas in smartphone wagering, but will influence state regulators and companies in many states and industries.  Chief Location Officers take note.  You can bet on it.