G2E: Arizona Cardinals owner embraces sports betting David McKee, CDC Gaming Reports · October 7, 2021 at 6:30 pm “It’s been a lot of cheering,” said Arizona Cardinals President Michael Bidwill, apologizing for the hoarse voice with which he addressed a keynote session of Global Gaming Expo on Wednesday. Riding a 4-0 winning streak, the NFL team owner exuded exuberance in his remarks to G2E, noting that the league was the only one during the pandemic to play all of its games and hold its championship event on schedule. Reflecting on the lessons of the pandemic, Bidwill said “We needed to be more like a speedboat and less like an aircraft carrier. We needed to follow the best science and that’s what we did. A lot of organizations chose to lean back, because it was easy to do,” continued Bidwill, noting that his franchise conducted blood drives, testing sites, and — at State Farm Stadium — one of the largest vaccination sites in the nation. “Just do good because that’s one of the tenets of our league.” However, Bidwill was at G2E to discuss sports betting, a topic toward which American Gaming Association President Bill Miller gently steered him. A third-generation owner, Bidwill says his predecessors found sports wagering anathema, but that the league “took a long-term approach” toward wagering when the Bradley Act (which forbade it) came before the Supreme Court. The NFL, Bidwill recounted, began putting rules and enforcement proactively into place to protect the integrity of the game. Looking ahead, “We’d like to see it integrated into the overall business plan because that where we started three years ago.” In Arizona, the Cardinals are at the center of a tripartite sports-betting alliance among the Gila River Tribe and BetMGM, courtesy of new compacts that were the fruit of “a very delicate discussion and negotiation” with Gov. Doug Ducey, of whom Bidwill spoke in the highest terms. The result, he said, incorporated NFL best practices, as well as its responsible-gaming messaging as part of the state’s regulations. Describing Arizona’s 10-tribe, 10-franchise alliance of licensed sports betting providers, Bidwill called the regime the “best in class in the United States,” because it gives teams direct access to the marketplace. “We speak to our fans and those are the people who are betting.” The Cardinals owner theorized that states that were early movers in sports betting, possibly alluding to New Jersey and Pennsylvania, might revisit their enabling legislation to deal teams into the action directly. New FanDuel CEO Amy Howe made headlines on Tuesday by complaining that the sports-betting market was too saturated with providers and the cost of acquiring players was too high. Bidwill evinced no such concerns, even with a relatively wide-open, 20-skin system like Arizona’s. As for advertising, “That’s one thing I’d be careful about. In Washington, D.C., where I have a lot of friends, all they’re hearing about is sports betting and that can really backfire on you. Let’s not give (politicians) anything to hang their hats on.” This prompted Miller to reference, as many other G2E speakers had, the tremendous backlash against sports betting in Europe and Australia, due to the inescapability of advertising and promotions. Indeed, Bidwill said, the NFL was sequestering sports betting-oriented programming to apt channels, lest it reach the wrong audience, saying, “There are fans who are total rejectors. “Everybody wants to get to the youth, because they’re picking up video games instead of a football,” he continued. “We need to find healthy ways to get them involved [in the game] … but we need to make sure we’re not marketing to kids” where sports betting is concerned. The present already looks good for Bidwill. In addition to having an unbeaten team, his partner BetMGM tells him that Arizona betting action, nascent though it is, is growing faster than in any of BetMGM’s 14 other jurisdictions. “That’s one of the indicia of a mature market.” As for the future of U.S. sports wagering, “You’ll see it become what it is in Latin America and Asia, where it’s part of everyday life and people act responsibly around it,” he concluded.