BOSA-Digital: Cathryn Lai on the future of US sports betting technology

Cathryn Lai, Scientific Games’ SVP and GM, US-Digital, joined SBC Managing Director Andrew McCarron at this week’s Betting on Sports America – Digital, to engage in a discussion dedicated to the “Future for Sports Betting technology in the US.

Expanding on that theme, Lai was quizzed on how technology can make a difference in a rapidly evolving new marketplace and in what ways SG might be able to leverage its best of breed technology developed in international markets with its comprehensive state by state knowledge.

On the pace of change towards more widespread legalization of sports betting, Lai stated: “In the US market for sports betting this is such an exciting time to be part of this journey. It’s going to be historical. After PASPA was repealed, if you think about how many states have come online just in the past two to two and a half years it’s pretty phenomenal. And then from our perspective we’re watching all the state-by-state regulations and we’ve got teams that are tracking all the different rules. Every day it’s changing.”

She added: “The potential for where this market is going to go is pretty significant. I think most exciting is that for us by the end of the year we know that Michigan is going to add digital sports to the market and we’re excited to be a part of that and be live on day one. And they’re also adding igaming too which is kind of a bonus for us.”

“And then you think about it from a landscape perspective, back in November there were three states that had some kind of sports legislation on their referendums and ballots (South Dakota, Maryland and Louisiana). Those are all new markets that we feel pretty confident that in 2021 will open up too. Every year it’s going to be more and more and it’s a very exciting time especially for us as a technology provider to be in it.”

Turning to the issue of the COVID pandemic and its impact on the business, Lai noted: “When we look at COVID in general and how the world has changed, one thing we’ve found is that there’s been a lot of acceleration of trends that I think we always thought were going to happen.

“For instance, retail. I don’t know if anyone’s going to go back to the mall but everyone’s got pretty comfortable shopping online. All of these things in other industries have been accelerated by COVID. And I think when you look into the gaming sector it’s no different, and actually if anything it’s been even more apparent.”

When questioned about the blurring of online and retail environments, Lai responded: “Being able to integrate online and retail – that’s a big piece. But as we start to watch the sports betting legislation open up, we think igaming’s going to follow behind in a lot of states and we’ve seen that with New Jersey and Pennsylvania and now with Michigan hopefully by the end of the month.

“And that’s the value from Scientific Games – we’re able to integrate all those systems together and then when you take a couple of steps back and look at the portfolio that we’re offering on the land based side we have player account management systems and back end systems. So being able to create that full omnichannel view for a player across every kind of channel is really powerful.

“I think also when we talk about innovation and where we’re going next, there’s a lot of things we’re looking at. Scientific Games is definitely a thought leader on all fronts of where we look at from a technology perspective.”

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