First annual Sports Betting USA Conference is right on timeBy Justin Martin, CDC Gaming ReportsNovember 14, 2017 at 8:19 amIf sports are an elemental part of being human – and, considering the human urges toward achieving, competing, and winnning, it seems fair to conclude that they are, at least on some intrinsic level, then betting on sporting competitions probably is a cultural trait easily learned . At the very least, it’s difficult to consider one without the other, even if no money changes hands in a formal wager. It’s only natural, in a contest that can only have one victor, to be drawn in one direction or the other, and from there it’s a very short step to saying, “You want to make it interesting?”That short step is of intense interest to the gaming industry today, because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear, in December, New Jersey’s challenge (Christie vs. NCAA) to the quarter-century-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. PASPA was ostensibly created to preserve the fidelity and integrity of sports throughout the country and, per Wikipedia, “define the status of sports betting throughout the United States.”PASPA effectively restricted legal sports betting to a handful of states. Not that this did much to stop people from betting on sports, of course; the illegal sports betting market was estimated to be $46 billion in 2016, and Forbes speculated in September that legalized sports betting could bring in over $6 billion in gaming revenues annually by 2023.So the timing for the first annual SportsBetting USA conference could hardly be better. The two-day event kicks off tomorrow, November 14, at Convene New York in Midtown West, and is sold out. Panelists include Dan Spillane, Senior VP and Assistant General Counsel for the NBA; Michael McCann, Director of Sports and Entertainment Law at the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a legal analyst for NBA TV; Gabe Feldman, legal analyst for the NFL Network and the Associate Professor Director for the Tulane Sports Law Program; Rick Parry, former CEO of the Premier League and of Liverpool FC; and Scott Butera, commissioner of the Arena Football League. American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman will give the keynote address on Tuesday evening.Panels on offer include “The Legislative Path to Regulated Sports Betting: Congressional and State Approaches,” which will be lead by National Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS) executive director Michael Pollock; “Envisioning a Sports Betting Model That Would Work for the Sports Industry,” moderated by Yahoo Finance & Sports columnist Daniel Roberts; “Preparing for Launch: Optimal Routes to Market,” moderated by Cathy Beeding, VP and General Counsel for Island View Casino Resort; and “Extending the Sports Wagering Opportunity to the Indian Country,” moderated by Victor Rocha, President of Victor Strategies and publisher of Pechanga.net. Additional panels will deal with the lessons learned from daily fantasy sports and eSports, regulated sports betting’s potential to generate further revenue streams for the major US sports leagues, and ways to build a bridge between currently viable real-money options like DFS and eSports and the extant sports-driven consumer base.The gaming industry stands, depending on how the Supreme Court rules in Christie vs. NCAA, on the doorstep of a freer and potentially very lucrative future. Even if everything breaks the industry’s way legally, however, there will still be a huge amount of work ahead. It’s naïve to think that the inaugural Sports Betting USA conference will present all or even most of the answers to the long list of questions and issues that the industry might have to deal with. Still, the agenda shows that the conference is likely to be a strong starting point. We should count ourselves fortunate: these are exciting days for the gaming industry.